A lonely place where the mediocre go to be forgotten.
The dull brute sat at the kitchen table in his underwear, smoking a cigarette without interest, coughing intermittently whenever his lungs unexpectedly came to life and took notice of the damage being done to them. As always, the television was on, tuned to static.
Blank. Empty. Adjectives to describe the man's life and his thoughts at the moment.
Somewhere in the distance, a horn bellowed an indignant cry of protest, waking in him an untouchable sense of dread and despair. There was nowhere to run, now. Nowhere to hide. He knew he had found shelter in the old woman's house at the end of the road.
So the brute simply sat and smoked and watched the static swirling over the face of the television. White and lazy, his cigarette smoke drifted up, up into the artificial light of incandescent bulbs, before it spread out along the ceiling to fill corners and cracks with yellow stains that would never be expunged.
Only the dead who had gone before him could understand the brute's suffering. There was a small part of the his mind that desired life and urged him to cling to living. But there was a darker side of his character that dwelt in hell, dealt only in death, was morbidly attracted to the growing stillness of the forever darkness beyond life. There was a constant battle taking place within the brute's mind. One day soon the darker half would win, and somebody would find his cold, stiff body swinging from the rafters of the barn.
That thought made him smile. It was sweet to think of his own death. How would they remember him?
Not well, the brute imagined. His self respect had long ago gone the way of the dinosaur, but there was enough human anguish left him to point to the enormous waste he had made of his life.
And there was nothing for it. What's done was done. No turning back.
What to do now? That's the question.
Nothing. Sit and smoke, and watch the blank television hissing its forlorn message of abandonment and forgetfulness.
One by one cigarette butts piled up in the overflowing ash tray. Day passed to night.
Somewhere in the evening, a car locked its brakes, its tires screaming over the pavement. The brute took no notice.
Time is nothing. If I wait... if I can wait long enough... it will come to me. The answer will come to me.
Unblinking, his gaze was drawn to the snowy picture of the television. SHHHHHH it whispered.
How long had it been since he'd slept? A day? A month? A century? The brute couldn't remember, didn't want to remember. His body had long ago been forgotten.
Outside, dusk settled over the countryside, filled the cracks beneath the trees with shadows, sent creatures of daylight scurrying for shelter before the almighty hand of nightfall crushed them mercilessly. In the overgrown creek bed north of the brute's house a rabbit was surprised and caught by a coyote. Its death squeals were loud and shrill, and warned the unwary of violence afoot.
Then all fell silent. Thunderheads gathered above.
A heavy condensation settled in the tiny valley. Storms had been forecast for the evening. Already clouds were gathering thickly, and a bass rhythm of thunder could be heard clearly in the distance.
Rushing through thorny branches of mesquite trees and twisted branches of live oaks, a gusting wind filled the air with a rising wail, ghostly in the eaves. Trees danced. Preceding the fall of water, a constant shower of autumn leaves was swept into the sky to chase and forever chase each other in play, as though there was nothing to fear from nature.
An overgrown barn crouched brokenly behind the old woman's house. It trembled in the gales, as though fearful this storm at last might rip it from its rotted foundations. Desperately, the barn clung to existence. A loose loft door beat back and forth in tune to the gusts, tapping out a monotonous rhythm that grew louder with each new fury. Now there was a gut wrenching moan of tortured metal, as yet another of the barn's corrugated tin panels was torn from rusted nails and sent flying into the night. The building seemed to hold its breath.
To the west of the house, an untended field stretched away as far as the eye could see. There were no fences to mar the perfect line of the horizon. Dust devils warred for possession of the soil, unseen in the shadows.
Through this field ran the road. Soon the rain would turn it into an impassable quagmire of mud. It led all the way from the highway ten miles to the north, past many a small ranch and abandoned homestead, to finally die in front of the old witch woman's tiny, shabby abode, which sheltered the brute. There was something grotesque in the way that narrow road lay beneath the flat tires of the brute's neglected truck. There was something maddeningly final about its termination there.
A single light burned in the tiny home.
Mindlessly, the man sat at the kitchen table in his underwear and smoked an endless flow of cigarettes. The storm waxed and waned in the heavens above. Mighty trees were felled in the night. The creek bed, dry from a long summer, overflowed and was soon rushing like a raging river. Lightning flashed repeatedly, burned dreary fields white for heartbeat instances, obliterating the shadows, however deep, seeking out all the wide eyed animals where they hid from their angry gods. Through it all the dull brute sat and smoked and watched the blank television screen.
SHHHHH it whispered. How long had it been since he'd slept?