The solemn silhouette sits crouched against the back wall of a world worn cabin watching as the sun begins its final descent into blackness of night. Rubbing his head with no comfort of another he sighs at the fading sun and whispers to himself if the long held truth will ever climb its way back into his mouth. The truth can be ruff for people who hold on to their secrets for too long, and this truth is way overdue. He slides through the memory that never leaves his side, be it day or night. Someday he knows that this torturing vision will have to escape and find its way unto the world. How will he know when the time is right? Will he have the courage? Will he pay with the very thing he took away? He rubs his forehead and stands to the sound of popping bones. There isn’t much time left; he thinks to himself. Whatever the outcome it will never be enough to erase the years of regret. Years spent toiling over if what had happened was meant to be as some would say is the reason everything happens. The lonely figure stands and begins to walk back towards his one place of comfort.
Back on Briggs Street I adjust my new weight and keep a careful ear open for the cling of glass on glass. Too much cling could be a bad thing, the loss of a wanting disdain and what some might even call happiness.
With one foot followed by the other, I start my trip back home. As Briggs slowly narrows back into the nameless horse trail that expands back into Briggs Street coming into town I glance upward to the sky, which is my little ritual when beginning a walk of any good distance. I do this for no other reason than to remind myself that no matter what situation I may wander upon, the outcome, be it bad or good, is in the long run as meaningless as a dying tree to the forest it resides in. Simply, everyone and everything is playing such a small role on such an enormous stage that we should harbor no fears for what may come. It’s not that our small roles are pointless, because they’re not, but without the stage those roles wouldn’t exist at all, and that is a calming thought. A thought that holds my attention for just long enough to begin to doubt it, after all the only reality in life that changes is our thoughts about reality itself.
“Headn’ home Tooley?”
Before even turning I know that it’s Orville saying hello without so much as a hi. “Missed you on my way in earlier Orville, you not feeling well?”
“Nah I’m good, just felt like a good day for an afternoon nap. So tell me Tooley did you stop by the grave and give her a kiss?” He asked knowing that I did because I always do; the one good thing in my life that brings a true smile to my lips and a tear to my eyes.
Now you may be wondering why Orville calls me Tooley instead of Joseph. I used to wonder the same thing myself until finally one day I asked why and his reply was: “Well that’s your name isn’t it?” Can’t argue with that logic and win.
“Of course I kissed her Orville,” I answer. “Cemetery’s looking better than ever,” I tell him and he just nods with a smile and rubs the top of his head fixing his thinning hair.
“Well, I’ll see you the next time around Tooley, you be safe out there.” He gives another nod and I to him, and he heads through the iron archway to keep Eden a perfect garden. Somehow the archway seems to close in on Orville as he passes through it as if the world is doing its best to protect him from any unwanted trouble, any unsolicited fever that may encroach upon his paradise.
“Not sure when that will be,” I tell him. “Being safe is merely an illusion Orville. You should know that better than anyone.”
Further, down the trail the thought of not seeing William, Walters’s older brother, in the tavern crosses my mind. If every town has its drunk, then William is Hapsburg’s. William’s a good guy in his peculiar way. He’s one of the few others around these parts that are drawn to the mysteries that whiskey has to offer. Like me, he has an open mind but he lacks the willing soul, so the outcome is very different very different indeed, a difference that breaks a man and his desires. I believe that stems from a childhood of less than favorable circumstances. You see, William and Walters’s father once carried the title of the town drunk before William took it over. I’ve lost the memory of their fathers name at the moment but I do know that he used to strong hand his sons when he would get a little too lost in his drinking and William was always there to deflect most of the abuse from his little brother Walter. William could always deflect the wild side of their father onto himself. A gift that never seems to give much in the way a gift should. It must be an amazing thing to have a brother or sister, a living breathing extension of you and your thoughts, a moving funhouse mirror to reflect common experiences, but I’m sure most lone children feel that way. That feeling of loneliness, self-entertainment, and hard-headedness crawl into the lonely child’s brain at an early age and swiftly grow deep strong roots that never die.
Steadying by my pack yet again, I come across my mark. It’s nothing too noticeable, a small groove in the middle of the trail that I’ve worn into the darkish dirt with the outside of my boot over my separate travels back and forth from town. I don’t aggravate it on every trip, just when I think it’s becoming a little too hidden for my eyes. It always seems that it’s the imperceptible little things that if noticed can lead to unseen treasures. If that’s just dime store philosophy or if it’s reality I can’t say, but I can say it’s true. And isn’t that enough? After all the lies that circle around us on a daily basis the truths seem like beacons in the fog. However, if the truths and the lies ever become entangled and blurred, one can settle in for a life of despair and hopelessness. A fear creeps into the mind and takes over every waking moment. Unfortunately, the fear never leaves.
Coming from town I know this little groove means I’ve got another thirty yards before I veer to the right, leaving the nameless horse path and into the forest where I’ll pick-up on my trail that’ll take me to my porch and my isolated home. The thirty yards reached I turn off and push my way through the underbrush and eventually hit my trail. With just a few steps taken I stop and notice—nothing, nothing at all. Just the way I like it to be. No sounds from the dogs; this is quite unusual as they are almost always waiting for my return. I stand a listen with that intensity that makes one think that it is actually improving one’s sense of hearing and not even the quietest of noises can escape beyond the unnoticeable. Sometimes I catch myself in these trivial poses and can’t help but laugh at how silly I must appear to the better-adapted creatures of the forest watching me from some hidden angle. I look up to see a squirrel looking down upon me with curiosity and what can only be laughter in its eyes. This forest resident knows more about its home than most of us will ever hope to grasp.
Maybe the dogs are on the trail of some fox or coyote that came too close to the packs collective tolerance. Maybe they’re just out exploring. I do that quite often myself.
Why should dogs be any different?