As I sat in my stumped chair gazing at the flames disappearing into the midst of a higher altitude from which they gained their strength, their meaning, and their purpose I wondered at what point I’ll disappear from whatever altitude I started my strength, my purpose, and my meaning.
My strength; I’m quiet, I’m stubborn, I’m curious about the world I inhabit, and most of all I cherish and find the drive in the memories and stories I have of my parents.
My purpose; one and only one—find out what happened to my father.
My life’s meaning; there’s a few, but the first is the same as my purpose. A few others are Local 88 and the way it opens my mind to the possibilities that I would never come close to imagining without it and how it shows me the beauty that this angry world seems to be so occupied with, kind of like an awake dream. But, personally I think life has but one true meaning, and that is to have children to keep families and remembrances moving along down the evolutionary road. However, I never wanted children, so that takes me out of that one true meaning. Any other meaning people give to life is a right they have to make, you can give a life any meaning you want, but it’s merely a personal preference; nothing about it has any grounding in logic, just like mine I suppose.
After watching my fire for a while, I decided it needed some more fuel, an increase in energy to fight off the darkness, it and myself so cherish. As I stood to grab some junk wood off the row of ‘pit’ wood I kept next to my gate to hell the dogs all rustled a little looking up and quickly decided that nothing of their concern was going on, so they just as quickly curled back up on their chosen bed of grass and twigs. Comfort in what nature provides, a miracle of living.
Even Snout barely moved. But Top is up and over to the line of stacked wood looking beyond it into the dark. Although not unusual it catches my interest, given the day’s events. Seeing Top’s massive frame being danced on by the fires mismatch of light and shadow makes him seem almost Olympian in status. He carries his strength with grace befitting such analogies; a good dog in so many ways it’s hard to believe some family actually let him go. However, maybe Top was the prisoner that escaped rather than an innocent child being taught one of life’s many hard lessons. An escaped prisoner he must be I decided and then tossed some more fuel into my pit.
Settling back onto my stump and taking a few swigs of 88 and then refilling my pipe, I observed Top still staring into the blackness beyond the woodpile. Instantly my mind swung to William, Walter’s older brother, and remembers that I didn’t see him in the tavern earlier and that thought attracts the thought of the note on my door.
An arrow nicely placed on a distant target, a one in a thousand chance shot that usually has more to do with luck than any skill. My train of thought at the moment resembles that of a skipping stone tossed across a calm pond, lots of empty open untouched space in between the illusion of connected thoughts, rather than the smooth pattern of an actual train rolling along its tracks.
It couldn’t have been William.
Why would he?
It could have been anyone in town—they all know what happened and most know that I have no reason to live without my desire to find a thread of the world’s forgotten story of my father. Even with my unconnected path it wouldn’t be impossible for a man to find my cabin and place the blur of words upon my door.
Who would go so far out of their way to make such a strange and riddled comment? The thought is an itch buried deep within my brain. A terrible situation to be sure.
Now my mind turns to the note itself. That piece of scrap paper written boldly upon by some bold soul; be it with good intentions or bad.
What is it supposed to mean?
I wonder if it’s a message that someone knows what happened to my father or maybe where he is at this very moment. But, optimism quickly turns to hate and revenge as the thought of whoever wrote those damned words is the man who killed my father.
Thoughts are wicked inventions that overcome their inventor in every crevice of their mind, body, and soul. One should pay close attention to what has benn created and followed by the mind.
I take three large swigs of 88 and light my pipe.
As the fire dies down and the clouds slowly slip between me and the stars I cork what little is left of my jug and place my pipe in my pocket along with its tobacco and head for my door. Sliding from my stump of a chair I lean to the left then the right and let gravity pull me towards the door or maybe it’s just pushing me from another hateful thought that stemmed from a knowing letter posted upon my only door.
Reaching the porch, I stumble through the darkened portal and into my home. Resting the nearly empty jug on the kitchen counter, I pull my pipe and tobacco from its pocket protection and lay it near the jug on what little counter space that is left. Turning in the dark with a knowing that comes only with years of constant companionship with the same environment, I move smoothly in my own clumsy way towards the lantern hanging on its nail in the far back corner of the room. Halfway across the room I pause, knowing I’ll need a match, and lean right to take myself to the shelf above my stove where I paw for the can that holds my wanted match, retrieving two, just in case, I return to my journey to the back corner of the cabin where the lantern rests, waiting to come to life, waiting just to wait for a spark. With a few nimble moves, she’s lit and glowing with the luminescence of a pulling attracting brightness. After setting the lantern down on my chair side table, I turn to better feed my stove than the previous night so it’s warming heat won’t die before I arise from my slumber that is approaching quickly.
Finding the stove well enough full of late night fuel I use my unused second match and bring the cold firewood to the state of dancing flames and close the door just enough to allow some breathing air to enter the monsters mouth. Turning to my chair of comfort with the hopes of finishing Sherlock’s adventure before fading off to sleep I literally see the shock that instantly shoots through my body as before my eyes sits upon my chair a hat that brings back but one rushing memory full and thoroughly complete with the sensations of my life—my father.
Stumbling backward with the grace of one just belted across the chin in a prize fight, I catch myself on the stove and instantly jump forward out of instinct. Now standing numb and frozen, fixated on this new object of amazement I find myself at a crossroads of sorts. Do I retrieve this intrusion and head straight for town at this very moment or do I make no mention of this, my father’s hat and the note that was so cowardly posted to my door?
The intersection is clear, but the crossroads disappear quickly into darkness. Which way to go? Which way to go?
How do I proceed? How can I?
First things first, I break my frozen spell and step lightly forward to get a better look at my father’s hunting hat with a little hope it’s not his but knowing full well that this one is his. Hope can raise its ugly head in the worst and best of times. Grabbing my lantern and swinging it closer to my chair and lying light upon the now dead hopes of mistaken identity I set the light of all back down and grab my father’s hat, crumbling into my chair and staring at the object in my hands. So much love, so much hatred, and so much confusion spinning through my brain and mixing with the whiskey it forces me to close my eyes.