The Legend of the Half-Handed Man - Epilogue

Thomas stood there, arms crossed over his chest, looking down at the suddenly nervous men.

"Mister, we didn't mean no disrespect," Larry started.

"No offense was intended," Old Man Quin said diplomatically. "But I'm sure you can understand that you're... a person of interest, in this community."

Thomas was quiet a moment, and the air was electric, thick with tension. Finally, he spoke. "Wanting to know the truth is no crime. And those are interesting stories. There's a bit of truth in all of them. But there's a whole lot of lies, too." He turned, and began to walk away.

"But, Thomas..." Terry said.

Thomas turned back, surprised at the sound of his own name. "Yes?"

"If none of those stories are the truth... what is?"

Again, Thomas was quiet, contemplative. "The truth, son, is that I haven't always been as careful as I should be. And sometimes, that carelessness has cost me a great deal." He turned, apparently done with the conversation, and walked away.

But when he reached the door, he turned back, and fixed Terry with a hard stare. "But you should see the other guy," he said, and then he was gone.

Terry stood to his feet. "Leave it be, boy," Old Man Quin said, but Terry ignored him, and followed the stranger out the door.

"Thomas, wait!" he cried. The big man stopped, and it was a long moment before he turned around.

"Thomas, really, what happened?"

Thomas looked at him for several long seconds, and Terry felt an overwhelming urge to turn away, to hide himself from the piercing blue eyes. But when Thomas saw that the younger man wasn't going to run, he relented.

"From what I gather, the umbilical cord wrapped around my hand while I was being delivered, cut off the circulation. Took two of my fingers. Almost took a third." He glanced down at his wrist. "Almost took the whole thing. That would have sucked. Be awful hard to type with one hand."

"That's... that's it? No malfunctioning robots? No secret agents? Nothing?"

Thomas chuckled, but there was little humor in the sound. "No, son. There isn't always some grand story, some greater reason. Sometimes things just happen, because they happen."

"So why all the mystery? Why all the secrets?"

The big man was quiet for a moment, contemplating. "I live my life, son. It's been more interesting than some, more boring than others. I do what I have to do. And they," he raised his chin in the general direction of the bar, "tell their stories. I don't know why. Maybe they're bored. Maybe they really believe them. But it's not my place to take their stories away."

"Besides," he said as he walked into the sunset, "I'm sort of a drama queen."