“I am an old man, son” said Petharic to young Jonny Dawkins as the boy watched the man check his weapons before strapping on a second belt of cartridges. “How old I cannot say. I don’t seem to age, at least not as other men do. As far as I recall I have always been this finely chiseled specimen of manhood you see before you… rugged, handsome…”
“But you must have been an urchin once,” interrupted little Johnny, “everyone was an urchin once upon a time.”
Petharic regarded the boy not unkindly. “You would think that to be a fact. But the truth is I recall no childhood. Forty years ago I appeared in all the youthful glory you see before you today. And yet…” Petharic trailed off looking skyward for but a moment before lowering his voice, “I feel I cannot go on living forever. Someday I will die the real death from which there will be no earthly resurrection.”
“And you don’t fear it.” said Johnny with a look of awe upon his face.
“Oh no son, it scares the Hell out of me. But I compartmentalize it and try not to think about it too much.” Petharic made sure the Colts were secure, one holstered on each hip. “I do not know why I should fear death… I who have died so many times at the hand of my bungling adversary, but that fact tells me something, Johnny.” Johnny remained silent as if he missed his cue. “Do you know what it is that it tells me?” Petharic prompted.
“That your adversary is not as bungling as people think?” offered the boy.
“No.” Petharic shook his head looking momentarily perturbed. “It tells me that I am a man. Prick me and I bleed; tickle me and I laugh; teach me to belly dance and I fall in love. Wrong me and I seek revenge.” Petharic drew both Colts and mimed shooting motions at an imaginary foe before holstering the pistols once again.
“Come on son, my fast is done.”
“Where are we going?” asked the boy.
“To Clockhaven.” His eyes narrowed as his face took on a steely countenance. “Today is the day I finally kill Emerson Lighthouse.”