The shack quaked under the weight of heavy, urgent footsteps. Parker Stanton barely had time to look up from his ledger before a hulking figure blotted out the orange sunset slashing through the westward door.
He smiled as his young right-hand man stormed to a stop in front of the desk. Diego slammed an old photo down on the oak surface.
Parker’s face turned serious. He didn’t even have to look at the picture. He knew it would come to this, someday.
“What’s on your mind, Diego?” Parker asked, hoping he could forestall the conversation somehow.
“Dígame la verdad!” Diego barked. He only spoke Spanish when he was angry, or scared.
Parker leveled his gaze at the young man and relaxed his face. “What is it you need to know, son?”
“Why do you have a picture of my mother?” Diego planted both hands on the desk, glowering at Parker. “Did you kill her?”
The words cut into Parker’s heart, and the sting brought a hint of tears. Part of it was guilt — he had killed Cayetana, in a fashion. If she hadn’t been bringing him lunch at the mine that day so many years before, the landslide couldn’t have claimed her.
“No, I didn’t kill her, Diego.” Parker turned the picture toward Diego. “Now, you tell me the truth.”
“What do you mean?” Diego was confused.
“Does that man look at all familiar?” Parker ran his fingers through thick golden locks, peppered gray. “How many other blond fellas named Diego you met out here?”
He tapped the photo.
Diego studied the image, eyes shifting between his mother and the strapping blond man on her arm. Diego might as well have been peering into a mirror.
“Tell me about her,” he said, and gazed into his father’s eyes.