Thursday, August 13, 2015

An afternoon walk along the river

A man of undetermined older age walked down to the river along the narrow dirt trail taking time to follow the flight path of the swallows into the freedom of the faded blue sky when he came upon an abandoned stone house once the home of his friend long passed on. He usually avoided this route and its myriad of painful memories piled high upon each other, and instead, took the paved sidewalk over the bridge without a single glance below. This walk though, he stopped in his tracks when he saw the wooden door slightly ajar and wondered if there were squatters living within, or just curious children exploring while on their bicycles roaming the public parks much like his friend and he did in their youthful pursuits. Never one to be superstitious or afraid of a little adventure, he barged into the house only finding that his battle was with cobwebs and not humans. No one appeared to be using the rent-free facilities, and the man felt somewhat relieved when he stepped back outside into the waning sunlight of late afternoon automatically looking to his left and right for any observer watching his movements.

The circumstances of his friend’s death are unclear, and even the man is not sure what led up to his demise. At seventeen he was well aware that his friend’s parents were rebels and kept a manual printing press in the attic. Once he was visiting and they snuck up there and saw several flyers announcing meetings left on the table. He didn’t know what that had to do with his sudden death one night while his parents were not home. Maybe it had everything to do with it. There was a lot of hushed talk and glances between his parents whenever he was in earshot, and he didn’t understand why there wasn’t more investigation into the crime. It was the righteous thing to do, although no one asked a question at school after the schoolmaster removed the empty desk from sight as if that was the expected answer. Things smoothed over relatively quickly, and the boy’s family moved away in the middle of one night a few months later never to be heard from again. Rumor had it that it was to America to stay with a cousin. Only the loss of his school friend left a huge hole in his heart and ruined the frivolity of his teen years, and forever the void would pierce to the surface and prick his thoughts no matter how hard he tried to erase their unpleasantness.

 The man's conclusion is that the politics of the country are always in an upheaval and some notions are best left to the privacy of his mind where they can be separated apart from the necessary tasks of daily life. It’s become his pattern, and in his final years that is all he requires.