When you are put in a situation where someone tells you he is your father, even though you had never seen him your life growing up, you would probably stare at him for a long time, not sure how to act. I didn’t. Instead I laughed. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I laughed so hard that it took me a couple minutes to calm myself down. He was clearly lying.
Larry waited patiently, his demeanor unchanged.
“You’re serious?” I asked him.
He said nothing.
“Yeah, okay,” I brushed it off. “I suppose you’re going to tell me my real name is Luke.”
“Huh?” he asked.
“I am your father, Wes.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Let me ask you something: what do you remember before the age of six?”
“Lots of things.”
I thought about it for moment and to be honest I couldn’t remember anything. That’s not that crazy, though. It was a long time ago.
“What’s your point?” I asked him.
“I was once a paladin,” he began.
“How can you be a phoenix, then? Paladins can’t be turned into monsters.”
“Let me finish.” He took in a breath. “You were five years old and there were stories of a horrible monster terrorizing the Amazon. At the time there were more of us and we were formed into a group with a council, as it always had been. I was selected by the council to investigate. When I got down there it was more than I had bargained for. I discovered the monster that was living deep within the jungle.”
He backhanded me. “I said let me finish.”
“Right,” I said, rubbing my face.
“I discovered the phoenix and it was fierce,” he continued. “In the end I was able to defeat it but not without suffering many burns and bites. At first there was no change. I flew home, my wounds healed; I continued to live my life. Over the next year I started to notice changes: my body temperature rose, I became stronger and faster, and many other things. It didn’t take me long to realize I was becoming the thing I had hunted.
“I realized that I really knew nothing about the phoenix. So, I did some research. I found that they are ancient creatures, first of all monsters. I learned, not only through experience, that it is the only monster that can change a paladin. I started to feel different, emotionally.”
“They have people you can talk to about that,” I suggested.
He raised his hand to strike me.
I put my hands up. “I get it, I’ll shut up.”
He put his hand back down.
“I began to hate my own kind,” he told me. “Humans, too. Your mother began to see the change.”
“Was she a paladin?” I asked him, playing along.
“Did she know you were?”
“I killed all of the paladins.”
“Except for Drake.”
A look of hatred washed over his face. “Yes. He was quite elusive.”
“After I killed all of the paladins your mother took you and hid you from me. She gave you to someone from her past that I had never met before. She had Drake erase your memory—you were young enough that he was able to do that—so you would have no idea that she or I existed. It wasn’t until you were 11 that I was able to find you again.”
He looked at me, waiting for some sort of response.
“That is such a load of shit,” I blurted. “Do you really expect me to just sit here and believe that?”
He finally took off his hat and coat, allowing me to see his face. My jaw nearly dropped. He was clearly a few years older, or at least looked like it, phoenixes probably don’t age, but he looked exactly like me. He really was my father…