Wednesday, July 25, 2012

12. 20120725: old man, hammer, forest

After Mom died it was just me and Pops, Mom's old man. She died when I was eight. I never knew my father. He knocked her up and died in the war before I was born. At least I had Pops.

The night after Mom's funeral I couldn't sleep. A lot of things kept me from sleeping, but there was only one thing that night that kept me awake.

From the woods behind our house I heard violent sounds of a beast unlike that I had ever heard before. Howling. Thrashing. Thumping. Crashing. Crying. It sounded like someone, or something, was being attacked. Dying.

I huddled under the covers and covered my ears, but it was too late. Those sounds had already imprinted themselves in my mind, and they were all I could think about. Violent images pushed out the thoughts of my dead mother, and for a while I wasn't sad anymore but scared. Of what? I wasn't so sure.

The next day when the sun came out, I went out into the forest to find out what had caused that noise. But unlike my imaginations there was no bloodbath, no heads on sticks, no signs of a satanic ritual.

When I told Pops about it, he got me a dog. He said a boy should have a dog. I named him Max.

Pops quietly passed away at the ripe age of 78, and later that same year Max died. He was fourteen.

The night that Max died I got hammered and buried him in the backyard. While I was finishing up shoveling the dirt over his body something inside me broke.

I swung the shovel around beating the trees with it. I sobbed uncontrollably as I beat my chest. I screamed.

The sounds were as terrible as I remembered them, still vivid in my memory.

I didn't realize until then that the howling that I had heard the night of my mother's funeral were the screams of a man terrorized by grief. They were the cries of a man whose heart was being ripped out of his body. They were the pleas of a man being torn apart without a single soul to protect him, not even his dog.

But contrary to what I had believed that night when I was eight, I learned those sounds weren't of dying but of living.

The sun would rise, tomorrow would come, and I'd still be, here.

To the list of other pieces inspired by random words.

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