by Collie

Every evening, Bill sharpens his knives.

He has done so, by moonlight and candlelight, for countless years, and he shall continue to do so until his dying day - which may or may not come very soon.

The established routine is soothing for him. A patch of calm in the whirlwind of his life. A bit of solace at the end of a harried day. The eye of the hurricane, if you will.

Peace. Calm. Rhythm. Routine.

Run the smaller blades along the steel sharpener. The metallic clink and ring and hiss like music to his aging ears. Arms and hands moving faster than an eye could follow - And Bill should know, having but one himself.

Tonight, however, he pauses, holding up one of the smaller butcher knives.

There is still pig's blood staining the mirrored steel. This blade has not been washed. Bill frowns and dunks it into a nearby bucket of water, then slides the flat sides along his bloodrust-stained apron to dry.

The blood stays on the blade. A tradition amongst warriors. He never picked up on its origins, but he assumed it had to do with the ancient warriors drinking the blood of their enemies; a practice they believed would imbue them with the strength of the fallen.

Or perhaps it was just a statement, written in gore.

Either way, suffice to say, this slaughtered beast was not his enemy, nor was his blood worthy to stay on this knife. And so, it was cleansed.

There had only ever been one blade worthy of bearing the blood of his enemy, and that very same blade had been hurled at him this very night, in a pathetic attempt to cut him down. A display of spinelessness so odious, that Bill couldn't even bring himself to kill the boy. No, he would wear his shame like a badge - and a scar. The hand that had wielded that blade flowed with the same blood that had stained the knife: Vallon.

That ungrateful whelp of Irish scum wasn't worthy of such a name.

Tonight, Bill sharpens his knives to keep his sanity.

The routine and rhythm are a distraction. A familiarity to set his mind on. A nice place that he remembers fondly. He must not go raging into the night to cut Amsterdam Vallon down in the streets, like the counterfeit, lice-ridden dog that he is. No - he would do it with honor. The way of a warrior.

He would bide his time. Wait until the boy was ready, and then call him out and finish this like men - in the streets. Ending him as he had ended the Priest; but this churl would be given no honor in death. He would carve up the boy like a side of beef, and leave his steaming carcass for the carrion birds. He would take no piece with him, for once he was done with Amsterdam Vallon, he would want no gruesome reminder to haunt the rest of his days.

The boy was not worthy of such a father, nor was he worthy of Bill's affections. Not any longer. He was a lying deceiver of the lowest sort, and a coward besides. How that vile wretch could have ever been of the Priest's get, Bill would never know.

Bill uses a grindstone for his cleaver, on nights when he is feeling particularly agitated. It is an exhibit of willpower. Discipline. An angry man would abuse the cleaver and press it down much too hard, grinding the blade to powder. But not Bill. His hand is steady, even as the white-hot anger courses through him. He is calm and keen-edged, just as his weapon of choice must be.

Tonight he imagines grinding Amsterdam's face into a mess of raw and bloody tissue. White bone and sinew. Grey matter and fluid. He would steep his hands in it, and they would not be washed clean.

Bill despises himself for being deceived. He starts to feel his age. His senses have failed him, and he sets his teeth, eyes flashing dangerously in the dim light.

There were times when Bill regarded Amsterdam as fondly as he would his own flesh and blood. As close to a son as the scum could have ever hoped to be. Bill should have known better. He should have learned his lesson in Jenny. You children will always turn on you.

Especially when they're a second-rate pick-picket whore, and a revengeful, shit-licking, waste of space Mick.

So, Bill estimates that half of his anger is turned towards himself for being so swindled. But, soon it won't matter. Soon it will be over and done with.

Bill finds tranquility in the action of honing his blades, but finality and conclusion in sheathing them and sliding them into his belt. Each to their proper place. Fitted and secure. It is the ending of a day. The ceasing of rhythm, and then he can rest. But one of these blades shall not be stowed away this night.

The next place it will be sheathed is in the gut of Amsterdam Vallon.

This is a kill.

Tonight, Bill does not find peace. His knows that his mind will rest only when he has destroyed the boy who has set out to cut him down. Or, if he should fail and the boy does best him... well... either way, Bill's mind will be at rest.

And then the calm.


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