Brad swatted at the colony of flies that bombed his head when he rang the doorbell.
“Don’t pay any attention to them, and they won’t bother you.”
Brad jumped when he saw the old man standing inside the open doorway.
“I’m sorry, sir.” Brad said. “I’m Brad. Are you Sam?”
“Reckon so.” Sam turned and shuffled into the darkness. “C’mon in.”
Could this old coot really be Brad’s cousin?
“So your great grandpappy was Tom Franklin, eh?” Sam said when they were in the kitchen.
“That’s what the family tree says.” Brad had spent the last year piecing together his lineage.
“Granddad was a hard man. But a good one.”
An old woman with a bun hairdo appeared from a dark corner of the kitchen and placed a cookie in front of Brad.
“Oh, thank you,” he said.
“I said granddad was a good man, not you,” Sam said. “I don’t even know you.”
“Oh, right.” Brad was confused. “So, did you know my dad, Frank ?”
“Sure, when we was kids. His daddy Larry was my uncle. Damn fool, if you ask me.”
Brad smiled, then started again when another old man plopped down in the chair to his left. He wore a wide-brim hat.
“Who names their boy ‘Frank Franklin’?!” Sam exclaimed.
The second old man reached across the table and grabbed Brad’s cookie, ate it in one gulp.
“Anyways,” Sam went on, “here’s a picture of my grandparents.”
He slid an ancient tintype across the table. It showed an old woman with a bun haircut, and her wrinkled husband, wearing a wide-brim hat.
Brad looked to his left. The old man was gone. There were cookie crumbs on the table.
“Like I said,” Sam said, “don’t pay them no mind, and they won’t bother you.”