“Well, how ‘bout you, Miles? You don’t look like you have much goin’ on. Care to join us for a round o’ pool?”
“Leave off, Del,” said Willie from the far side of the pool table. “He ain’t hurtin’ nobody.” Del dismissed him with a wave of his hand.
“You jus’ sit here every night, drinkin’ by yo’self. Don’choo got any friends, bud?”
“You leave him alone,” said Willie, insistently. “He’s crazy.”
“I’m just havin’ a little fun,” said Del, ignoring his brother, “Whatsa matter, boy? You really crazy, that it?”
Miles turned to stare into Willie’s face, his pale eyes blazing. His face was thin and hollow, and in the darkness he resembled a jack-o-lantern, with two burning candles shimmering from inside.
“If I’m crazy,” Miles said slowly, deliberately. “What’s that say about a grown man who fantasizes about little boys?”
Del stiffened, like an unseen puppet-master had just yanked several strings and pulled him upright. “Hey, fuck you!” he snapped.
“Fuck me?” asked Miles, eyes ablaze. “Aren’t I a little old for your tastes?”
Del regained his composure and leaned towards Miles in a menacing stare. “I will fuck you up six ways to Sunday, boy,” he growled under his breath.
Miles stared back, his face showing no signs of intimidation.
“Careful,” said Miles. “I bite.”
Del steadied his gaze against Miles, and the two of them stood locked in a battle of willpower: a wiry viper against an overweight sewer rat. Miles slowly opened his mouth into a toothy grin and hissed – a wet, guttural sound.
Del broke their gaze with a shake of his head, crossed the room and threw the pool cue onto the table with a crash.
“Fuck this action, Willie. That boy’s outta his mind,” he said with a snort. “Settle our tab. We’re the fuck out of here.” Del stormed out, leaving his brother to look uncomfortably around the bar before pulling a wad of bills from his pocket and handing them to Doc Brown. Willie looked over at Miles nervously, but Miles had turned his attention back to his drink, staring back to an empty spot in space, and he did not acknowledge Willie’s furtive glance. Willie pulled a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket, tapped it in his hand and left the bar and joined his brother.
Doc Brown worked his way down the bar with a towel, wiping down the surface of the counter. He picked up the half-poured pint, and sipped it as he cleaned. He paused when he reached Miles. “One of these days, boy, you gonna start something you won’t be able to finish.”
Miles looked up at him, unconcerned. “Another double,” he said. “And mind your business.”
Doc Brown wandered away, continuing to wipe down the counter, and reached for a fresh rocks glass. He looked around at the near empty bar. “This is my business,” he said under his breath.
Outside, Del paced angrily, sucking frantically on his cigarette. Next to him on the porch, Willie sat lost in thought, taking deliberate drags off his, exhaling the smoke slowly into the cool night air.
“That sonuvabitch,” said Del, his voice laced with venom. “That sonuvabitch, I’ll kill ‘im. You heard what he said. I’ll fucking kill ‘im.”
“Don’t pay him no mind,” said Willie. “He don’t know nothing.”