The Long Road Ahead

The glass was empty. The whisky in it was now inside of Jack Holcomb. He had given old man Sal the last five dollars to his name for it. He knew Sal had been a little heavy handed when he poured it too. He was both thankful and offended at the pity the old man had shown, but he kept his mouth shut. No one in the bar approached him. Everyone tried their best to pretend that he wasn’t there. He wasn’t exactly quite old enough to be in such an establishment, but they all gave him a pass today. He could feel their glances. They tried to pretend the corner booth was empty, but he felt like all eyes were on him. Again, he was both thankful and offended, but mostly thankful. He didn’t want to talk about it. Obviously no one wanted to. What was there to talk about anyway? The only fear he had was that someone might come up to offer their condolences and he wouldn’t know what to say. A simple ‘thank you’ might be enough, but he feared that they might ask more, expect more, than he was willing to give. Than he knew himself. But no one said a word. The normally raucous bar held only low murmurs. They could feel the burden in his shoulders and were glad that it wasn’t something they would have to bare.

He had finished his drink and knew that he would soon be finished with everything else. He hadn’t survived what happened. No one could. Everyone knew it too, which was why they all kept their distance. They secretly wanted him to leave so they could return to their normal day-to-day. He was planning on giving them what they wanted. He just needed a little more time to remember. To let things sink in, so he sat in silence for a few minutes more.

Then he got up. The very movement brought all eyes on him, but when he surveyed the room everyone was looking away. He left the smoke-filled well and walked into the fresh air of Tenement, Kansas. Population 436. At least had been yesterday.

He could walk the town blind and find any place he needed to go. But in the midday sun, the town seemed like a foreign land. He was no longer welcome here. Or rather, he no longer welcomed this particular patch of Earth. The familiarity of it had turned sour overnight. The plan was to get out before it consumed him. To wander for a bit before he either eventually found his way back, or he found a new way to live.

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