The long day’s driving was grinding hard on him. Sitting non-stop behind the wheel had become a hazy fiction of his now distant youth. The rambling route far off the main highway that he had elected to take in this old over commodious luxury sedan that had once served his family car as most favored by late parents trundled along. Rough spots and occasional potholes bring home unwelcome thoughts as to whether the vehicle’s aging frame could take it. The steering wheel motor ceaselessly growling away threatening further mischief. It was as if all these things were in secretly alliance with vagaries of fate. The impish gods of bad luck waiting to play their hand at the most critical part of his journey. Clunks and thumps from patches of disintegrated sections of the road throwing their bid into a growing pot of angst. The mental image slowly congealing of him waylaid upon an empty uninhabited stretch of this meandering road. Two tons of the inert steel of this oversized ‘boat’ but no financial paddle. The superhighway further north had always been a more obvious option of course. But a dwindling faith in his own abilities cast in the light of slowly advancing age suggested that a brown out of physical stamina would lead to more hazardous potentials where traveling at high speeds. The uncontrollable swarms of other ever more impatient drivers like angry bees swooping back and forth chilling him. The lower speeds of country lanes along with the prosaic nature of contemplation of the many intervening smaller metropolis’s presented an unique opportunity to take in sights along the way. The nagging awareness that in light of his slowly declining physical condition that the opportunity of another similar journey might not be a possibility to experience ever again. Not that he was infirm by any reasonable standard of physical dexterity, mind you. But the quality of vision in the right eye had slowly deteriorated over the last year to the status of legal blindness halving his ability to see. And he feared that the left eye might just as easily without warning follow suit. Destiny and biology had now taken on a common theme and purpose to eventually defeat him. These incremental symptoms of growing infirmity ever threatening and keeping him in their sights as if a stalking horse for eventual demise.
The conundrum of his own inner sensations of still being defiant in feeling perfectly still a youngster coursing through his waking mind as occasional small town were revealed from passing cloistered wooded dale’s then surrendering themselves back to long stretches of farmer’s fields. His thoughts bobbling about in that sense of timelessness of the slow meander of two lane highway. There were so many contrasts to be sorted in the accumulating recollections of many solemn vows he had made to himself as he struggled through the early years of instinctual but useless family rebellion. The penciled path that he had been following if now traced upon a sheet of blank typing paper from the computer screen of a library now as apparent as at the time of its making. He was certain that he was not lost so much as confounded by the lack of clear roadside markings that were only occasionally posted before unexpected forks in the road. His heart increasing to a beat or two above normal as he would have to slow down to a near crawl to rethink if some conflicting twisting signage. Perhaps some waiting ruse considered as harmless errant prank by a delinquent farmer’s son. All in all by all indications, he had managed to stay upon the right road. Mid-morning slowly turned to afternoon. The monotony of hours of travel submitting to boredom nudged betwixt infrequent stops for gasoline. He was assured by early afternoon that in terms of his progress, he was was well within the boundaries of the next state. The same old persistent youthful inclination to press on a little bit further after violating the last arbitrary limit as fresh now as always. It had been almost three decades since he had been in the yearly habit of routinely traveling to the West Coast. Long winding roadways through the Rockies following the tedium of flat lands from the Midwest. The imagined bloom of youth not quite yet reconciled to present day realities. The monotony of the road leading to a boredom inspiring muse. The sameness of every passing mile markers surrendering his mind into a trance-like state. His empty movie theater unconsciously playing short features between random thoughts.
The pages of the calendar had been flying off into space at an astounding rate. He felt he was rotting away with vision and internals slowly failing. The usual legal forms from the government would arrive but he could barely read the text upon the pages to properly fill them out. Living alone for four years running seemed an Armageddon in a very personal sense. Familiarity had a pernicious way about it. A way that had never seemed evident before. The ingrained habits of previous years in terms of traveling far afield were afoul of his current capabilities. The many growing items deferred to his bucket list were now too many years overdue. Though he would not address the thought, time was running short. What after all was importance of it all anymore? Simple existence, such as it had once been known, was a luxury. Something that invisible forces beyond his control were slowly withdrawing without any hint of clemency. The why and wherefore of all of this defeating logic and unable to be understood. Too many successive decades of successfully possessing all these facilities seemed inviolable. Something beyond credibility to be able to accept that they might all too soon be permanently withdrawn far outside his reach! The indirect experience of this not foreign to him. His own kin had suffered mightily before him barely a decade previous. The difference now being that he was the one to be beset. And now condemned to suffer similar circumstances without hope of a reprise. How short a time until his own physical and mental powers would be so rotted away leaving him infirm and helpless?
It was quite obvious that this sense of the world in its being rapidly dismantled then to be routinely discarded by the indifferent surrounding population of strangers that saw little value if any with his own sense of personal priority. This current dilemma might be traced to his lifelong choice to explore and indulge rather than conform. The human body was always said to be ever flexible in adapting to any varied circumstance. But eventually, there was a price to be paid! It might also be said that his current dilemma might be in part be due to an obsessive fascination with the new devices that daily invaded modern experience. Was peering into that pulsating rectangle of a computer screen not essentially so different than simply staring at a blank empty wall? Perhaps the still popular medium of the radio endlessly recycling the past giving one a notion of stability? But it was naught but a commercially inspired dodge given the fact of everyday struggles with real things that reliably bobbed up as impediments! His own private notion of perpetual vitality was in conflict to all of this! Why should he, of all others, be so pathetically vulnerable to a slow deprecation? He still felt in the prime of his existence. So many unfulfilled ambitions yet to be realized! Why would this slow rot descend so unfairly upon him? Maybe he had lost his usefulness? Lost it perhaps to a new world of successive generations that were springing up all around him. Ones that threatened more and more each day to displace all that he had known and had thought was eternally valid? Yet perhaps even in a more cosmic sense all ideas like thoughts in one’s mind must sooner grow old and fade permanently away?
This realization that this might be the case inspiring an inner spark of terror. Death in the sense of there no longer being experience of life held no sense of angst for him. But the slow inevitable path to it that would find his world incrementally crumble about him while he became infirm and dependent upon the institutional whims of indifferent strangers disturbed him deeply. No level of unbearable physical distress could be any worse to his way of thinking. Was life in this sense not too dissimilar to the notion of a distant franchise chain motel where every day one’s resources were further diminished and the possibility of that day when the bill could not be paid would see one unmercifully cast out and penniless? This society was ever ready to take away one’s rights if it was adjudged that one could not take reasonable care of themselves. What seemed like charity to society seemed like a fearful incarceration with no hope offered but the choice to will himself even harder to die. How ironic it seemed that the threat of this kind of end made one ever more compliant with taking the task on one’s self far sooner than those that would help it along in a more general sense. Just to consider these things tore at his soul in a manner that seemed to sap his life’s vital force. “So this was old age?“, he thought.
The insistent pangs of hunger in terms of the eventual need to stop for a meal had still not as of yet dramatically announced themselves. He hadn’t eaten since breakfast at the hotel grill. His mind continued trailing over new categories of random musings that were synonymous with the those that the previous sleepless night had brought to light. Recalling all these different points that had embroiled seemed like wasteful tedium now. Though at the time of their positing they might have played a useful diversion to the latent fear that the annual descent of fewer hours of daylight transformed into Winter’s night reliably conjure up. Who, if any ,were left to aid his cause in finding paying employment now that he was adjudged being long past any potentially useful career possibility? Creative forms of logic were taxed by a cold stone hard acknowledgment of his current financial insufficiency. A bitter pill caught in his gut that was a thousand times more effective than any amount of caffeine to restrain slumber. The thought of spending more of his rapidly diminishing funds upon a night’s rest in some dodgy overpriced roadside motel stuck in his craw. If he had wanted to feel the full measure of this despair he could do no better than play the role of another weary stranger occupying some prophylactic motel single that had been overused by others in equal dire circumstance. Many of those that were more assuredly lacking in basic human hygiene and prone to carelessly leaving their indelible biological markings in splattered semi-transparent deposits within each shadowy corner. The residue of untold numbers of this species extent in trace amounts upon every poorly cleaned surface and randomly seeded across other neglected lower sections of dank bed side walls and across rarely laundered bedspreads. He supposed that the routine passage of a class prone to utter fatigue from cross country travel not to mention the locals caught up in the perpetual ritual of weekend one night stand drunkenness kept such dishonorable establishments places from going under. Even when considering the attraction of their cheaper neon advertised rates! The light upon the landscape flying by before him was now taking on a characteristic tinge of the sun nearing its usual rendezvous with the far horizon. The formation of a slight headache alerting him to focus on the fact of a degree of incremental blurriness overtaking his eyes. “Just another few miles!“, he thought. And then he would begin looking for a place to stay the night and heed common sense to not risk driving at night.
Another half an hour had past and the failing embers of the sun were now simply a memory long past in his consciousness as he past through a second unpromising anonymous tiny municipality. There had been a gas station in the first one block long commercial district but no sight of overnight accommodations. The cashier in the tawdry little station office had related that he was best served by backtracking two miles and then heading up some thirty miles or more to the interstate where he would have to drive back a further ten miles to the cloverleaf to find a Days Inn or its equivalent. Maybe impatience with a stranger or simply lack of concern had left the conversation to stop there. This glibly offered advice would not allow him to continue on his present path. The best he could wring out of the string bean clerk’s stony continence was that there might possibly be something past the next burg somewhere? That is, if it was still open at this time of year as the hunting and fishing trade had been shuttered for the season. His plans somewhat bruised by this advice he foraged on several miles to see if he could prove this hick pundit wrong. Now further on down the road caught up in following the path of this own headlights he began to wonder if that old demon fate had laid a another trap for him? One that was using his own foolhardy pride to avoid heeding the gas station clerk’s advice? Flakes of snow were beginning to descend across the road now as if on cue. Equally bad enough that he could not now read a street sign in this pitch black night. Had any traffic cop had stopped him they would have easily discovered his flaw and impounded the car! Straining as much as he could through the powder impacting his windshield he scanned ahead for any hint of far off lit lamppost. One that would signal close proximity to a small town with the hope of some overnight accommodation. These silent prayers eventually answered several minutes later when he had reached what appeared to be a small county seat of a staggering three blocks long. He noticed with a mixed degree of relief and suppressed pleasure that the flashing neon declaring a hotel sign was adjoined by its twin. A pulsating magenta and cyan serpent-like thing that declared that a bar just beside it was still open for business. The sedan slid past the two and he came to a stop just around the corner the vehicle leaving ruts down the unplowed side street. The two plus inches and growing accumulation sloshing over his old well-worn running shoes invading them fully by the time he approached the entrance to the drinking establishment.
A gnawing sense of animal trepidation grabbed at his gut as he yanked hard to wrest open the plate glass door from its icy frame. And he entered into what appeared to be an age old well overly remodeled antique decor. One offering an anagram of each of the many bygone it had been subjected to by successive eras dating back as far as the nineteen-forties. A yellowish cast from lighting beset by translucent plastic amber covered fluorescent’s flooding the immediate area around the establishment’s front bay window leaving the few occupants in range of it cast in a jaundiced appearance. A few other couples sat engrossed within old overstuffed booths. Ones, no doubt, salvaged from an old local soda shop and poorly re-covered in a crappy green Naugahyde. The resident sense of aesthetics were bizarre by contemporary urban standards. The hint of seediness defeated in part by a contradicting hint of fresh Lysol defeating what otherwise might have been that characteristic sour aroma of festering hops that remained legendary in the description of same such locations. The gray tinged middle-aged woman standing behind the bar took no notice of him. He walked forward and noisily scrapped a bar stool and set half haunch upon it. An expected, “What will it be Mr.“, automatically was summoned from her lips. “Is there any place to stay nearby for the night?“, coming as his response and generating a blank stare as if the inert face opposite had not encountered his voice of inquiry. “You want a beer?“, the bland looking face stonily repeated. “Sure.“, said the man resigned to the fact that his most vital want would have to be reserved for another ear. The interval betwixt the arrival of the a multifaceted overflowing glass mug filled in by some old and unidentifiable top forty hit. “There’s a Days Inn back about fifty mile away by the main highway on ninety!“, she unexpectedly offered in a wearily unenthusiastic monotone. “Nothing closer?“, he shot back. “No, not out of season!“, the dour face abruptly terminating conversation to turn away to attend to another refill request at the other end of the bar. “So that’s that!“, he mumbled to himself. The man drearily sank into the first draught of his frosty mug. His lips momentarily doused by its rich crown of icy froth. A howling burst of wind loudly clambering as it suddenly propelled a regiment of icy white flakes across the expanse of the front window. The power of it like a voice summoning all to the fact of the waiting tomb of an empty black inhospitably. Snow now rapidly accumulating outside the bottom of the window’s frame. He was stuck here for the time being and so he dived unhesitatingly into another deep draught.
Varied reflections from about the room behind him gleamed brightly in the mirror surmounting the forest of bonded liquor bottles. Each one coming slowly in partial focus. A menage of generic faces all chattering away amidst a droning narrative recounting the usual banalities of life set to the haranguing persistence of another once popular tune. The contest between his right and left eye providing an approximation of humanity in a somewhat out of focus rendition that one might expect from a classic Impressionist work of art. The small space on the bar just below his nose catching the blur of a elder hand pushing a third freshly filled mug up into place beside the scant evidence of a fully drained former one. A wooziness attached to the cotton-filled sensation slowly filling his head now in conflict with the dying pangs of protest from an empty abdomen. He wondered how long he might fare straight up on this stool? He imagined that the last dregs of road food strewn about the well before the passenger seat might hold some promise. But the occasional angry howl of persistent Winter wind erased all notions of briefly departing on a quest to see what might be left. A sudden hard bump on his left shoulder raising him from his muse. “Oops!, sorry mister!” A bright young female face in full flower of youth projecting itself like a flashlight into his immediate view. At a loss for anything with which to respond he offered at a dull half-hearted smile in return. A minute past. “Can you buy this lady a beer?“, the lilting voice of this tiny female responded as she banged against him while enthusiastically mounting the other bar stool adjacent. The numb hand on the end of his wrist automatically rising up on its own to wave over the bartender. The coterie of fingers transforming into an index pointing to the filled space beside him.
An otherwise empty head on his shoulders strained a bit more to turret towards her features. A perfect example of garden variety youth he mused. But composed in an offbeat picture of food coloring dyed hairdo hovering over the perfect alabaster of skin marred by blue lipstick and a central silver nose ring piercing. His thoughts greeting this impression from his better eye silently remarking “Cute!“, to himself dripping with a measure of well-worn worldly cynicism. The two of them sitting there for another span of minutes in a false pregnancy of silence. Both of them politely pretending some form of distant aloofness, she rummaging about within her purse with eyes diverted. “Animal curiosity or commercially inspired utility driving politeness?” he wondered silently about her motives? After a minute he ventured a, “Not from around here either?” “Naw! Just visiting!“, she snapped back in what seemed a hollow attempt at a streetwise urban voice too much beyond her years. Then adding quickly in light of a carefully deranged grin, “My crazy sister and I on our way West!” “Staying with folks?” he lazily batted back somewhat indifferently. “Naw!” she cawed. “Just the family’s old cabin.” “No place to stay around here out of season anyhow!“, she added. “Ya, I kinda figured that out the hard way!” he solemnly offered back.
The next rounds of drafts left him falling into a semi-conscious form of tailspin. He knew from the intermittent back and forth patter that unsteadily continued on that he was being leaned on by her for drinks. The dull uninspired conversational bouts of same spurred by his passive accession to keeping the free flow of freebies coming to her end. It had become apparent to him even in this dim state of awareness that whatever a gesture of solicitation towards the bartender had been made for the lubrication of a further round it was not by him. A glossy sense of slowly building fog in an appreciation of the room collapsing to just the two of them giving him some pause now and again. Scant thoughts of classic ‘John’s’ and easy marks suggesting possible conclusions both sensual and potentially dangerous. The impression of another indistinct female face very similar to this first one occasionally intervening over his other shoulder with the first one slightly canted towards him. The tiny hand of the second darting out between such occasions to grab at another filled mug. Their disembodied conversation emanating from just behind him chattering in rapid fire about what sounded like a mild form of sibling rivalry. His own inner dialogue struggling to make sense of these two as an anonymous third party. His besotted mind spawning off like a disembodied zygote uncannily floating high just above their ensemble. There is bobbed going in and out of focus. A hard slam of the exit door and a blast of frigid cold awakening for an instant. From the best of what he could still rationally determine he was now out of the bar being alternately tugged about by his elbows steered down a drift covered sidewalk. An icy blast of wind carried snow chiseling the instant in a clear image of the blizzard at full tilt. The bite of wet soggy cold ankles in counterpoint to the sensation of one heavy step after another. Two sets of smaller hands tight upon his upper arms urging him relentlessly forward from either side. Before he completely passed over to a floating world with its hanging mobile of the sparse contents still rationally accessible by his mind the thought sprung up that that some outrage by fate had made its play. Where was the destination? Being taken to where . . . ? These questions mildly insubstantial to a world plunged in excess and now completely out of focus beyond an analogous cast through the prism of a cloudy beer mug. Random bits and pieces of this sensory impressions slowly fading from his head as he was urged further on.
Time had passed, or so it seemed? His head now beginning to allow a sense of spacial reference suggesting that he was standing in the middle of a room. A wandering blur of a small chaotic half and half storage room and bedroom. One cluttered with odds and end of disused furniture stacked up hard upon each other. Leaning upright against most of the available wall space. The remaining cubby hole of floor accommodating a big futon mattress. The major source of light illuminating this unsteady vista being from somewhere behind him at the opposite end of a short hallway. There he tottered alone still barely upon two feet as the sights and smells of female habitation hit his partially awakened senses. Everywhere there seemed an explosion of different styles of rumpled clothing draped over whatever was handy. Piles of the rest strewn about under foot as if temporarily discarded in haste. Partially filled glasses of melted ice filled beverages. The food stained paper residue of past carry outs issuing cornucopia-like from greasy half crumpled brown paper bags. Soap and garment bound stale sweat, spilled wine, latent cigarette fumes tinged with loco weed. All set amidst a preeminent slight animal funk suggesting an ongoing cycle of menses occurring within the general vicinity. He felt himself caught up to the point of spinning within this whirlwind of sights. The proximity of the sound of an ongoing sassy back and forth heated conversation echoing away in his ears. Looking down towards the makeshift bed he noticed that one of the two young girls from the bar was now laying face down within a rumple of covers that were half pulled over her. A bare leg exposed all the way up to her haunch revealed below the casual displacement of a diaphanous pair of nylon panties. The illicit nature of this vista allowing a generous view of her feminine equipment lurking just below her tight butt cheeks. The other end of the blanket pulled fully over her head blotting out the testy responses from nagging female tones parked away within another room. This distant voice suddenly refreshed to a new level of stridency just behind him as he instinctively spun around. “I feel like stabbing someone!“, the bright young garish face chirped with a devilish grin. He hand making a stabbing motion towards him. “Stab, stab stab!“, her voice called out. His eye catching focus of a small pair of stainless clippers being thrust forward menacingly towards him. “Oh, cut it out!“, her twin’s voice rang out from under the covers. The man’s tottering now stopped short as a hand of his own grabbed at the wrist of the willowy menacing harpy. He grabbing the clippers quickly from her grasp. His successful effort to defang her pranking now met by yet another impish playground chant. “No matter, I’ll just get something else!, she tittered as she pulled her empty hand from his grip and darted off to another part of the room. Caught up this unexpected challenge he instantly became aware that he was standing both bare footed with bare legged and vulnerable to attack! A short competition between them ensued with him racing time and again to head off his attacker’s quest for some new mischievous threatening tool to poke at his dangling parts.
This game went on until he had collected an entire hodgepodge of sharp looking metal objects in his hand. His dedicated assailant laughing wildly in madcap joy come of prodding this strange old bear in her midst to a frenzy. The other sister with violet hued hair now up on her feet coming over to yank her sibling’s arm to rest and then unceremoniously pull her off to the next room. One yelling, “Stop it!”, repeatedly as she angrily stilled her sister’s offbeat chaotic sense of mad horseplay. A final curt command of, “Go to bed!“, finally being firmly issued from the other space followed by a second or two of mock whining. The man now next to swooning from his own animal need for rest kicking in as he sank heavily to his knees falling exhaustively onto one side of the mattress and promptly passing out. The empty space of his conscious narrative handing off over an indeterminate amount of time to rise to consciousness face down in the summit of some rumpled garments serving as a pillow. Turning his head towards he soft sound of constant slow respiration to notice the form of his savior crashed out close beside him. He feeling caught like a thieving fox in this hen house. He froze for a moment taking in the prevailing quiet of the room. A few things were obvious to him about this situation. Whatever the implied nefarious aspects of the situation, they were not the issue of the moment! Here he was, totally alone with two very young girls? All, including himself, currently in varied states of undress and tucked in for the night. Several decades back, a sly nature of youthful perversity might have easily dispensed with a sense of impending panic. One that he could not now avoid but to suppress. Should he simply gather up his clothing as quietly as possible trying not to disturb his hosts to attempt a quick departure? But then not knowing his current location might end up in his wandering about clueless as to where he was within the raging blizzard leaving him in more dire straights? A further shock in terms of appropriate modesty noted once again that the only discernible piece of clothing currently in his possession him was his short thin t-shirt. He was caught like an insect on a pin tasked by a conflicting sense of shame wondering just how and where the rest of his garments had come to be disregarded? Had the this young woman’s nutty sister devised another perverse inspiration? Or had something much wilder and bacchanal in his own nature taken hold when he was safely out his responsible mind? Whatever could these two mad girls find attractive or interesting about him as this old withered fossil too functionally far past their own youth?
Taxed by the weight of these thoughts and still inebriated and groggy he succumbed to the weariness and fell back down beside her dormant frame. He was now living amidst a dimension akin to his former years where as a young man he had often been in similar circumstances. “How beautiful youth was!“, he thought as he took in the semi-lit shape of her form. Youthful, feminine, artful, those long lazy curves of her back to her hips and the the other delicate of her neck. He might have been cast into a heavenly time machine and brought back to momentary immediacy of a former existence. One that made him wonder if such a thing as time really truly existed in an eternal present. What was it about this undying internal sense of male animal attraction that persisted on despite so many negative intervening episodes to the contrary? How much had he suffered at the hands of eventual disinterest in now nearly forgotten other parties? Ones that had used him for their convenience as he had on occasion had returned the favor. Relationships in his case being a passing whim caught in the moment? That building residual cynical bitterness about how life in this regard had left him now. Empty of emotion beyond in the near physical presence of an anonymous female. He felt the overwhelming urge to reach out and place his hand upon her shoulder. But knew instantly that it would be a violation that could only bring him further shame. Fate was testing him! The cold outside world was offering a mortal choice in this regard. Get into the habit of simply following your momentary obsessions and find yourself entrapped in some unexpected was to have to commit your years and decades to trying to make amends for the eventual outcome. This burning question of the mind defaulting as usual to asking who was running this life anyhow? The many layers of the onion leaving him only with contradicting possibilities. The plausibility of joyful spontaneity of letting go all caution but equally encountering an unexpected unavoidable pitfall of evil results. As usual, his life sat immobile upon the crest of a lofty hilltop locked in the safety of indecision. Better as always to let things play themselves out and not place all his cards on the table until the very last hand.
The next thing he knew it was morning. He was alone half-tangled up in the covers upon a half empty mattress. His two hosts were now dressed. And by the fact that they had each strapped on a backpack over their coats were obviously next to leaving. Fully come back to his senses in the wane of last night’s drunkenness he lay there unmoving feeling like a fool. The two of them seemed oblivious to his presence as if he were merely another stick of old furniture. They made the final adjustments to the final ritual of departure and quietly filed out one after other. It seemed as if he wasn’t even really there! Sitting up realized once again that he was uncovered from the waist down and quickly wrestled down the twisted blanket cover over himself after the fact. Now sitting up he leaned forward over his knees as he rubbed the sore hollows of his eye socket assessing the level of pain currently behind them. The storm had passed by morning. A bright sliver of morning light slicing through the lower portion of the window under the partly displaced blinds. Weighing the unexplained events of the night previous and realizing them as an insoluble mystery he turned to the few instants that he could recall. For some unfathomable reason, and perhaps out of a possible excuse of reciprocity, the kindness of the two now departed brought back into the world of all things young. Not to feel like an outside or interloper, but more as a neutral observer. It was a world that though it had long become foreign to his own current sense of experience was equally genuinely human in its practice. He rose heavily to his feet dragging the ends of the blanket wrapped over and trundled over into the next room where he found his missing garments. The inventory of same had been carefully draped over the bolster of a large easy chair parked out of the way in a corner. The fact of their not having been tossed in a rumple like all the many other items bespeaking that they had been placed there with a sense of respect. Though no direct interchange of words had just taken place, they had obviously accorded him a privileged place of a universal form of hospitality. He dropped the blanket and busily got himself dressed. Patting here and there on the garments to make sure that nothing essential was missing. His wallet had indeed been drained of many of bills. But his mind referred back through the remaining cobwebs to those unending series of beers that had traversed the bar for them all. A night’s lodgings being safe from the raging elements had surely been a fair bargain in his mind.
His cumbersome sedan was sitting a few blocks back in the small town. Conspicuous in mid-morning for the fact that it was the only vehicle still fully covered by undisturbed snow. He had carefully closed the door of the cabin behind him as he left leaving that other world as he had found it. Undisturbed and free of any hint of his overnight presence. The motor of the auto now running, his hands cleared away the snow from the vehicle’s windows. Satisfied he climbed into the driver’s seat and slowly pulled the sedan out onto the road heading back upon the route eventually past the gas station of the other small town and heading north to catch the superhighway. Something deep down within him renewed and hopeful. The tug of former possibilities so long forgotten ago released from under the weight of the subsequent decades long past. An unsentimental glimpse of himself as he once had been now opening an unexpected vista. A view of how he was now firmly locked in the present tense come of that experience of immediacy from the previous night.