"Covered the center of my palm."
"Running out of patience, boy," your father says.
You nod. "I'd guess you would be."
"Never my strong suit."
"This has been nice," your father says, and sniffs the air. "Like old times, reconnecting and all that."
"I told her that night to just go, just put as much country as she could between you and her until I got out. I told her to trust no one. I told her you'd stay hot on her trail even when all logic said you'd quit. I told her even if I told you I had it, you'd have to cover your bets—you'd have to come looking for her."
Your father looks at his watch, looks off at the sky again.
"I told her if you ever caught up to her, to take you to the fairground."
"Who's this we're talking about?"
"Gwen." Saying her name to the air, to the flapping tarps, to the cold.
"You don't say." Your father's gun comes out now. He taps it against his outer knee.
"Told her to tell you that's all she knew. I'd hid it here. Somewhere here."
Your father turns so you are facing, his hands crossed over his groin, the gun there, waiting.
"The kinda money that stone'll bring," your father says, "a man could retire."
"To what?" you say.
"To what, though?" you say. "Mean old man like you? What else you got, you ain't stealing something, killing somebody, making sure no one alive has a good fucking day?"
The old man shrugs, and you watch his brain go to work, something bugging him finally, something he hasn't considered until now.
"It just come to me," he says.
"You've known for, what, three years now that Gwen is no more?"
"If you like," your father says. "Dead."
"Three years," your father says. "Lotta time to think."
You give him another nod.
Your father looks down at the gun in his hand. "This going to fire?"
You shake your head.
Your father says, "It's loaded. I can feel the mag weight."
"Jack the slide," you say.
He gives it a few seconds and then tries. He yanks back hard, bending over a bit, but the slide is stone.
"Krazy Glue," you say. "Filled the barrel, too."
You pull your hand from your pocket, open up the knife. You're very talented with a knife. Your father knows this. He's seen you win money this way, throwing knives at targets, dancing blades between your fingers in a blur.
You say, "Wherever you buried her, you're digging her out."
The old man nods. "I got a shovel in the trunk."
You shake your head. "With your hands."
Dawn is coming up, the sky bronzed with it along the lower reaches, when you let the old man use the shovel. His nails are gone, blood crusted black all over the older cuts, red seeping out of the newer ones. The old man broke down crying once. Another time he got mean, told you you weren't his anyway, some whore's kid he found in a barrel, decided might come in useful on a missing-baby scam they were running back then.