The Cowboy And Vampire Epilogue

’’Being a father, now that's hard work,’’ Dad said, adjusting the impromptu sling that kept his broken wrist immobilized. He and Tucker were walking through the remains of the compound, Rex and Alexandra close behind, as the sun struggled up over the horizon.

’’You did a pretty good job of it.’’

’’That's 'cause your mother made sure of it.’’

’’How d'you think I'll do?’’

’’I always figured you'd be real good at it. Plus, you got a good woman to help you along.’’

The ground was covered with spent cartridges and a layer of ash that swirled around their feet as they walked. The ash was all that remained of those who had died the night before. The occasional limb sheltered by the shade they kicked out into the pale sunlight where it quickly dissolved. In the center of the courtyard, the crucifix that had felled Lazarus lay gleaming. Tucker picked it up and shined it on the bandages around his shoulder. The motion, since it pained him, was slow and deliberate.

’’Ain't much left of him and his dreams.’’

’’That ain't true. There's you and Lizzie. And your kid. That's enough.’’

’’Hard to believe something good can come from all this.’’

’’At least you got the girl.’’

They sat down on the steps. ’’Wouldn't have if it hadn't been for you.’’

’’Glad I could help. It's just a real good thing Lenny showed up.’’ Dad scuffed his heel in the sand. ’’Where is he?’’

’’Calling June, I imagine.’’

’’And Sully?’’

’’He made it back just a little bit ago. He's in his coffin, sleeping like a baby now that Julius is gone.’’

’’He's for sure gone?’’

Tucker nodded, remembering Lizzie's half-crazed look when she had returned, her mother's pendant clutched in her hand and blood smeared all over her face.

They were silent for awhile, listening to the wind.

’’Love sure is a funny business,’’ Tucker said at last. ’’Reckon I'm gonna head back in, check on Lizzie.’’ He stood up. ’’Comin?’’

’’Directly,’’ Dad said. ’’The sun feels nice on my face.’’

’’Well, c'mon, Rex.’’ Rex watched curiously as Tucker stood and started off. He made it halfway across the courtyard, the ash drifting around his boots and already disappearing into the desert. Abruptly, he turned and rejoined Dad on the steps. Rex pushed his head into his lap and Tucker petted him, smoothing his fur down.

’’Maybe I will sit a spell. I always did like the sunrise,’’ he said.

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