Friday, November 1, 2013

2nd Chance

Just another spur of the moment tale -s-.

2nd Chance-

He was bone weary in the night. 'Hitchhiking just was not what it used to be', he thought as the endless ribbon of road trailed on. There had been only a couple of vehicles, a semi and an old model sedan, cutting right by him and not noticing him and his thumb extended in solicitation.
He shrugged and turned his collar further up, morning chill having increased.
He used to hitchhike all over. A lot of people did in pre-terror America. It was a common way of transportation, not just for hobos, but for students, soldiers on leave, hippies and others seeking to see the country. Did anyone really find themselves doing it? Probably yes and no.
He had been ill recently. Determined not to let it beat him, he came out of a deep sleep and was resolved to make one last trip, just to see, to breathe, to be.
All kinds of tunes rambled through his mind, including 'On the Road Again', his eclectic thought the sole company in a long dark late Autumn night.
He wasn't sure what this trek would prove, but it harkened back to a freer time for him. His youth was gone but his spirit was young.
Sighing , he continued, knowing it was best to keep moving, the only way to get anywhere, one step at a time.
Looking back there was the empty road, as it was in front. It was always a thoughtful palette for a portrait in the living of his life.
As if in answer, he noticed a light up ahead. As he approached, a diner, set back from the highway, was lit up, like an electronic oasis.
His weary body felt relief at the sight and he passed a handful of cars parked, mostly to the side. It was a traditional diner, set in chrome, with rectangular windows emitting golden light.
Entering, the girl behind the counter said, "Welcome to Second Chance!' She was cheerful and quite young, in spite of it being the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere.
"Thanks", he said, as he ambled to the counter.
With a sigh, he gratefully sat, his feet already relieved. He thought if they could speak they'd cheer and sing as the ache left them.
"Looks like you could use some coffee sir", she offered an old fashioned white mug.
"Please Miss" He smiled at her smile.
"Kinda quiet", he noted. being the only customer.
"Yeah. It can be. But sometimes we're almost bursting with business." She regarded him, further saying, "Come a long way Mister?"
"Yes. Don't know how much farther I'm gonna go. Just wanted to get out and walk the world again." The coffee was just right, warm and robust, seeming to make him glow inside.
"Good coffee" He smiled at the pretty girl and noticed something familiar about her, but whatever it was lay over the cusp of memory.
"We aim to please. Want a piece of pie too?" She made a proffering gesture.
"That would be good just now. Sure. Thanks. Any peach?"
She smiled and immediately handed him a plate with a large slice of peach pie, lattice topped and a brown sugar glaze.
"Wow you're quick and a mind reader", he said all at once. It was delicious, like, well Mom used to make.
'Second Chance", he remarked. "I've been to the Last Chance Saloon, but I like the name here" He chuckled a bit.
The owner likes it too", she laughed back. "He thinks everyone deserves a second chance."
Her hair was light brown, pulled back in a pony tail. Her eyes were bright, brown and snapping, her lips wide with laugh lines, rather odd in someone so young.
"You know and I don't mean to be forward but you sure do seem familiar", he remarked as his eyes narrowed. Her ID pin said 'Lyndie'.
As if in answer she smiled even more and said, "It's alright. Why don't you put your head down and rest. No one will kick you out."
He simply nodded and said, "Ok."
As he nestled, he heard the jukebox playing something about millions of miles and just being with you. Lyndie had picked up the tune as well.
As he drifted off, it gently came to him She was a girl he knew in high school, tragically killed in a car accident. There was no fear, only comfort in knowing.
Sleep took him and the last sound he heard was a baby crying.
One life gently ended and another noisily began.

Above copyright 2013 by Michael S. Hiland and BurlyRose Productions

His Last Day

Just written and spur of the moment in the spirit of the season -s-.

His Last Day-

It was a warm late August day. The sun had climbed, crested and began its descent as the heat intensified in typical midafternoon focus. A breeze thankfully started wafting round, stirring the branches in hope of relief.
Inside the house, it was dark and thick with intensity. A pressure was building, emanating from the master bedroom, where a man lay dying.
Round the house it was quiet and the cliché pin dropping could have been heard. The two dogs cowered under a table in the corner of the living room, heads buried in their paws. The two people present watched, prayed and tended the dying man.

He had slowly deteriorated for several years, his once sturdy body a frail diseased shell. The color of his skin, once robust and tanned, had given way to a mottled, papery tone. His breath had receded to a stuttering living death rasp.
The pungent smell of death was everywhere. The odor was worse where he lay, but permeated the whole house. It was repulsive and disquieting, as if a grim reaper swept through, seeking to destroy.
The night before the man began his descent. He ruptured and vomited blood, black like coffee grounds in a never ending stream, which his wife and son ceaselessly mopped away.

Liver cancer had slowly robbed him of everything, including eventually his sensibilities, like a slow steady erosion. The strong mountain of a man had become the dried wasted hillock.
In the midst of the final morbidity, the son noticed small things, unnoticed by everyone else caught up in grief and the day to day care of a dying loved one.
One of the oddest events was the bedroom window. It was wide open to let in whatever breeze might find its way in. And a breeze was kicking up, bringing relief to the midsummer heat. But not in that bedroom. No air was felt and the curtains didn't flutter. It was as though the room was sealed in a vacuum, allowing a battle to ensue.
And it looked like a battle to the son. His Dad lay there when he suddenly reared up and declared, "I'm not ready to go yet!' He desperately clung to a body which could no longer sustain life. The man then slowly sunk back down, his words having cut through the stuffiness.
The wife immediately tended his brow, a cool washcloth thin comfort.
The man was arguing with someone. And indeed there was presence in that room. It felt crowded to the son, unseen visitors perhaps vying to see the man or talk to him.
Through his dry tortured lips and mouth he uttered, "Uh-uh, Uh-uh, repeatedly. At first it was intense, then withdrew to a rasp.
As the man weakened inconceivably further, the foul odor retreated.
Then, the man's breath seemed to creak and croak, as one last breath exited his battered lungs and mouth. He lay still, the argument over.
At that moment, the death smell completely lifted, gone instantly from the whole house.
And the drapes fluttered as warm breeze finally broke through, dispelling grim atmosphere, bathing the scene with peace. All were gone. The visitors took their friend with them. No more fear.

Above copyright 2013 Michael S. Hiland and BurlyRose Productions