The frogs in the lake at the end of the road sang their droning song. Edward stood in the dark, under an oak tree dripping with dew-covered moss. Across the street was her house. He could hear her laughter, talking with her sister, as they played a jazz record. Her bedroom was at the front of the house. The light of a oil lamp shone through lace curtains. Her shadow draped the window. Edward flexed his fingers then balled them into fists.
The front door of the house opened. Her father stepped out into the night. He lit a pipe then sat in the rocking chair on the porch. A muscle in Edward's cheek flinched. He adjusted his suit coat, then stepped off the curb and crossed the wet road. His new patent leather shoes clacked against the cement. Her father stood up, setting the chair to rock by itself.
"Who's there?" asked her father, removing the pipe from his mouth.
Edward opened the picket fence gate and walked up to the porch.
"Little Eddy Smith," said her father. "You shouldn't be here."
"It's Edward now, sir," said Edward. "I've come to call on Adela."
"No, I don't think so Edward. You go on back home now. Don't be bothering Adela."
"But sir," said Edward, taking off his hat and holding it to his chest, "I love her."
Her father looked at Edward, narrowing his eyes.
"That may be," he said, "but she don't love you. Do you understand?"
"No," said Edward calmly. Adela's father stared at Edward.
"Who's at the door Franklin?" said a voice from inside the house. It was Adela's mother.
"Little Eddy Smith," said her father, not taking his eyes off Edward. A dish dropped. The Victrola upstairs stopped with a scratch. Footsteps. Her mother ran to the screen door. She twisted a dish towel in her hands.
"What's he doing here?" she asked her husband.
"I've come to call on Adela."
"She don't want to see you," said her mother, voice trembling. "You get now. Or I'll call your mother."
"She won't answer," said Edward.
"What? Why not?" asked her mother.
"She's dead," said Edward. He put his hat back on and and lifted his hands to show them the dried blood on his palms.
"Franklin!" gasped her mother, tottering backwards into the hall.
"What did you do Eddy?" asked her father, dropping his pipe to the painted floorboards of the porch.
"I just shut her up," said Edward smiling. "She was on my back all the time."
"Oh my God," said her father. He stumbled and opened the screen door. Edward grabbed his arm and pulled him back. He shoved him into the rocking chair, breaking it to pieces. Then he stepped on her father's neck. Her father grabbed his leg, trying to wriggle free. Edward stomped down hard, again and again. He father beat his feet on the porch floor. Her mother started screaming. He stomped again, this time on her father's face. Her father coughed up blood, spattering a bit on Edward's pant leg. Edward stopped and looked down at the red dot.
"You got my pants dirty," he said. "How dare you."
Edward furiously kicked her father in the head. He stopped moving. Just then, her mother burst through the screen door with a fire iron. She swung at Edward's back, but he turned and caught the shaft of the iron in his hands. He twisted it and pulled it out of her hands. She fell back into the hallway, tripping over the carpet.
"No, no, no, no, no, no!" she screamed. She looked up to the top of the staircase. Adela and her sister were looking down, in their nightgowns, with shocked faces. "Run girls! Lock your door!"
Edward opened the door, then carefully closed it behind him, so that it didn't slam. Her mother crawled towards the telephone that was freshly mounted on the hallway wall. Edward lifted the fire iron above him. He swung down. Her mother slumped. He let go of the iron. The barb was lodged into her mother's skull. It slowly rotated until its handle leaned against the wall.
He turned and looked up the staircase. The sisters ran into their room and slammed the door shut. Furniture scraped across the floor.
"Please go away Edward!" said Adela, her voice muted behind the door.
Edward took off his hat and placed in on the newel post. A hank of hair flopped into his face. He took out the red handkerchief from his suit pocket and dabbed at beads of sweat on his forehead.
"You come on down now," said Edward. "And greet me like a good girl."
"I'll do no such thing!" said Adela.
"Come on now," said Edward. "It wouldn't be gentlemanly of me to come into your bedroom, now would it?" He carefully folded the handkerchief and replaced it in his pocket. "I'm waiting, Adela."
"Gentlemanly?" yelled her sister.
"Hush, Diana," said Adela.
"I've always been a gentleman to you Adela. I've been trying to court you right proper. I've given you flowers and candy, and taken you to the movies. I've never tried to put my hands all over you like some boys try to do."
"What did you do to Daddy and Momma?" said Adela.
"Answer me Adela, haven't I always been a gentleman?" he looked up the staircase expectantly. "Adela?" He took a step up the staircase. "Adela?" He took another step. "Adela? You answer me now."
There was a thump on the porch roof. Edward turned. Another thump. then he saw feet dangle down from the roof. Adela jumped to the grass and rolled. Her sister followed. Edward leapt down the stairs and through the porch door. Adela and her sister jumped over the low fence and ran into the road barefoot, their white nightgowns billowing out behind them.
Edward hopped the fence, chasing after them. Her sister looked back and screamed. They ran faster, holding hands. They ran across the intersection, their gowns lit up, showing the silhouette of their bodies inside. Edward reached the intersection. The grill of the green grocer's truck plowed into him, brakes screeching. Edward flew into the air, landing hard in center of the road, bones cracking. Adela and her sister looked back.
The driver of the truck opened his door and stumbled out. He ran to Edward.
"What you doing running across the road like that mister?! Mister?" The driver stooped over Edward, as a pool of blood grew under him.
Adela and her sister walked back, clutching each other.
"I gave you my heart," said Edward to Adela. "Why'd you tear it up Adela? Why you done that? My heart was faithful. I would 'a done anything for you."
Adela put her hand to her mouth, and started to cry.
"You don't know what love is," she said, sobbing. "You're incapable of it."
"You did this, Adela," said Edward, spitting blood. "All of this." He coughed and looked up at the moon. Then his heart stopped beating.