From the road, half of which is paved, the other half unpaved, Billy Thompson and Annabelle Withers watched the cabin for life. Annabelle pushed her blond hair out of her eyes and climbed on the cattle gate to get a better view.
“What do you see,” Billy whispered.
Billy climbed the gate and stood next to Annabelle. Billy didn’t want to be here; he came only because Annabelle had called him chicken.
“I want to know about the old man that lives here,” Annabelle whispered to Billy. “There are so many stories about him.”
“Yeah. He carries a kill stick.”
“It’s a cane, dummy.”
“Yeah, but one that has kill marks scratched on it.”
“Whatever. I don’t believe that story.”
Billy shrugged in exasperation. “Whatever,” he muttered softly. He turned his attention to the cabin that was shrouded by overgrown shrubbery and tall pines. No lights burned within the house.
“He needs to take care of his yard,” Annabelle whispered. “Everything is grown up. It looks like a jungle.”
“Yeah, but my daddy said he fought in the desert.”
“What desert? There’s only like ten of them in the world.”
“I dunno. My daddy didn’t say.”
Annabelle leapt from the cattle gate onto the other side. Billy’s eyes grew large as he watched Annabelle march down the driveway.
“What are you doing?”
“I wanna see if he is home. He must be lonely.”
Billy leapt down and raced down the hill to catch up. He punched Annabelle on the shoulder.
“Are you nuts! He killed hundreds of children in the war. He is going to kill us, and nobody knows we are here.”
From the house a shadowy figure watched as the children drew closer. When they got close to the porch, the figure stepped out onto the porch.
“Are you lost?”
Annabelle and Billy stopped in their tracks. The old man wasn’t old, he was no older than fifty. They stopped and stared at the man. He stared back.
“I asked you a question. Are you lost?”
“No sir,” Billy stuttered.
“That’s weird. I don’t you. Yet here you are on my property. I am pretty sure I didn’t send out invitations to town.”
“I am Annabelle, and this is Billy.”
“I am not interested in your names. What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to know if the stories about you are true,” Annabelle said. Billy shook his head. “I didn’t want to know anything. She called me chicken.”
A small grin tugged at the man’s lips. It quickly disappeared and he leaned on his cane. “What stories?”
“You know. The ones that say you killed hundreds of children in the war. Or that you are a cannibal, and you like tender flesh.”
Billy shook his head again and repeated his earlier statement. “I don’t want to know.”
“That’s what people say is it, Missy.”
“My name is Annabelle. Yes, that’s what they say.”
The man nodded his head and sat down on a rocking chair. He leaned the cane against the rocker. There were no marks on it.
“Is that a new cane,” Billy asked.
Billy looked at the stick. “Because people say you carry a kill stick. You know, you make a mark every time you kill someone.”
“I see. No, I don’t have a ‘kill stick.’ My kills are marked here.” He rolled up his sleeves and his forearms held marks on the top and bottom of each arm.
“You’re gonna kill us….Oh God, you’re gonna kill us…” Billy squealed. His eyes rolled back into his head and he fainted straight away.
Billy came to in a blue recliner with a damp cloth on his forehead. He looked around the room. Books were shoved into shelves; the blinds were drawn, and a dim lamp burned in the corner. An American flag hung from the wall. A shadow box filled with medals and ribbons hung underneath it.
There were few pictures on the wall. Most of it was paintings and sketching’s by relatively unknown artists. Billy could hear Annabelle’s voice coming from a room further down the hall.
“I like your library,” she said. There was no response. Billy climbed out of the recliner and walked down the hall to where Annabelle’s voice came from. The blinds were drawn in this room too. Bookshelves were filled with books. A desk sat in the corner with a black leather chair beside it.
Annabelle sat in the black chair, she looked up when Billy came in. “Look who’s up,” she said to the man.
“He looks fit to travel. You should head home.”
Annabelle nodded her head; her blond curls shook with the motion. “Yes sir. Thanks for taking care of Billy.”
“You’re welcome.” Billy though had questions.
“You didn’t kill us.”
The man motioned with his free hand and the children followed him down the hall. He opened the door and walked them onto the porch.
“Be careful heading out.”
Billy looked at the man. He was not the monster he had been told about. Most of his features were bland but what got Billy was his eyes. He had kind eyes.
“We don’t know your name.”
“Do you need to know my name?”
“I guess not,” Billy stuttered.
The man watched as Billy and Annabelle crawled across the cattle gate. They turned and gave him a wave, he nodded back. Then, they turned and disappeared from view.
This small encounter would make a lasting impression on Davy Walker.