A man returns to the mountains as he is beaten by the world, not knowing he will die. But, does he, as we know it? What happens before and after raises questions.
The expectant hush of pre-dawn filled the mountains, meadows and lake of the valley with a quiet excitement, for today, one of their own was returning.
As dawn faded into the gray of early morning, the heavy mist covering the lake began to twist, bend and curl, as if reluctant to leave the warm, still, sleeping lake, even though the morning breeze from the mountains began to sweep through the valleys like natures broom.
Finally, as the sun rose over the mountains, the morning mist gave up, rose into the sky and dissipated leaving the air fresh, clean and new.
The mountains watched the animals, their children, begin their day. The fish jumping for their morning flies, made the first sounds, then the birds with their singing, ruffling their feathers and taking flight. On the ground, the small field mice and chipmunks began their collecting of food, as it was late fall and they seemed to sense a long hard winter coming. The trees seemed to stick out, stretch and turn their leaves toward the sun, as if in prayer.
The mornings were the most productive of the day, as they were cool and the sun hadn’t dried out the air and heated the earth.
Around midday, everything seemed to slow down, almost to a stop. The forest rested in peace.
The late summer stillness of the mountains was shattered as an old Chevy pickup roared up the dusty country road. Deer scattered in the meadows as the truck flew by, raced around a curve and started down the road to the cabin. Rolling to stop in the gravel driveway, it sputtered and died.
The man got out, cursing, as he opened the hood. The radiator cap blew off and clouds of steam billowed out, almost hitting the man in the face. Falling back he tripped and sat down hard on the steps.
He just looked at the truck, put his head on his knees and started to cry great gasps of pain from deep inside his shaking body. As he cried, the trees began to lean towards him as if to give comfort, he didn’t notice how still the forest became or how the breeze slowly and gently caressed him. Finally he stopped, lay down exhausted, and fell asleep.
The truck seemed to say I’m going no further. The whole forest began to sigh and relax, the deer came back to feed in the gathering dusk. The breeze gently ruffled the leaves and set the grass and vines weaving as if to say goodbye to another day.
As the sun set, the man slept on oblivious to his surroundings. He slept on through the night. As it was Indian summer, he didn’t get cold, and as he was exhausted, he didn’t notice the forest citizens when they came to inspect him.
A large, very old, rattlesnake crawled out from under the porch, crawled over and curled up in the small of his back. The deer came and sniffed at his face, licking the dry salty tears from his cheeks. He moaned and disturbed the rattler who irritated with all the commotion, hissed and slithered off back under the porch sensing, that no harm would come to him from this man.
All thru the night, the lazy summer moon, full of compassion, gently lit the ever changing scene on the porch of the old cabin. As one by one the animals came to investigate this new animal in their midst, instinctively knowing this man would not, could not, hurt anyone. He was already hurt, bruised and battered by the world. Even if the man didn’t know it, he had come here, back to his childhood, to die. Finally, they all left, leaving him alone to sleep in the caring light of the moon and the gentle arms of the sad, late, summer breeze.
From Vegas lead dancer to homeless. Account manager for a security firm to chef. From having tons of fiends to losing them to drugs, alcohol and AIDS. From wives and male lovers to being alone. He has done it all. Born in 1940, he is a survivor. When he writes, it is from the the heart - he is a gentle man with a bite.