The MusiCurmudgeon - A Certain Shade of Light


He drove the tan car along the windswept road as though it were on autopilot - he had driven this same road so many times before - although there was something about the light this evening - he couldn't quite tell - was it was a paler, milkier shade than the day before? The days getting shorter of course - and he shrugged to himself and absently watched the spotted black and white herd of cows gathered near the fence by the fallen tree. The truck ahead made a sudden stop, and he caught the motion in the corner of his eye and pressed quickly on the gas pedal - the car slowed - and then the truck turned right and he pushed the gas and moved on.

Prokofiev on the radio - the Montagues and Capulets unconsciously marched with excessive pride toward the deaths of their star-crossed offspring. At the corner, a shivering Moonie selling roses performed jumping jacks - wisps of breath rising visibly from his puckered mouth. The car shimmied again as it came to a halt at the stop sign. I'll need to check the air in that tire, the weary man thought as he peered ahead homeward through the poisonous exhaust of the car ahead of him.

barn The drivers took their turns at the intersection - looking tired and expressionless or somewhat angry. All were in a hurry - thankfully this time there was none of the usual confusion over whose turn it was - and the procession moved efficiently and routine - as though the cars were connected like beads on a string threaded by a omniscient weaver. The man accelerated on turn and pierced the crossing without incident.

He passed the farmhouse where the cops had busted the farmer for shooting porn in his barn and the small town grocery store boarded up with a For Rent sign in the window. Across the street was the clean little house with the handicap ramp. He remembered how the cars used to line up for blocks - stopped behind the bus - which lowered the lift for the girl in the wheelchair. She used to raise her arms in anticipation for her day at school - oblivious to the blaring car horns that filled the frosty morning air. He never saw the girl there anymore - the house had been for sale - so he thought she had moved. He hoped that's what happened to her.

Crossing the creek near the picture-perfect barn and meadow (he thought it looked European - or how he imagined Europe to be) - he looked in vain for the kingfisher he had spotted fishing from a branch once before. It had been several years, but he still watched for it - the solitary blue bird with the spiky topnotch and heavy beak always seemed to him to be a portent of good luck - although he really had no evidence that this had ever been the case. He only knew he had only seen three in his entire lifetime. He had seen one earlier this year further west on this same creek - but that had been a different place and a different time. And he hadn't remembered receiving any specific good luck - but still he looked.

He passed the school and chuckled to himself as he thought about how the time his bowels were bursting - he ran into the school and asked to use the bathroom. When he came out - they asked him if he needed directions to his child's classroom - and he merely responded: "no" - and walked out through the front doors with their questioning eyes on his back. He hoped he would never have to do that again, but this road had no bathrooms on it between home and work, so...

Above a small plane descended to a landing at the airport with the abandoned tennis courts. He had never seen anyone use the courts and had thought about asking to use them, but never had. He had thought about taking flying lessons - which were offered there - but he was seriously afraid of heights. Once when a youngster - he had helped paint a neighbor's house - and in return the man took him up in a little Cessna. The sky had been cloudy that day - and they flew into the clouds. It had been exhilarating. But he had never signed up for lessons. He had never even turned up the road into the airport although passed it nearly every day.

Although not in a hurry - he followed his usual practice of hurried behavior and passed the truck ahead of him. He was, in turn, passed by a chinless man wearing a baseball cap and shades - who squealed a sharp left down a road - which he knew led to a factory - which made who knows what. Above on a power line, a solitary hawk - looking well-fed - perched lazily above a wide fallow field and watched it all with sharp eyes. He knew the frost would cover the landscape before soon giving way to waves of glistening purity.

Everyone I love dies in the Fall

Prokofiev played on - its clear Russian profundity bracing in the shaded light. The man's eyes closed slightly and as the paling sunlight filtered through the side window and warmed his cheek - he felt November enter his veins. So much had changed since he joined the Vanity Fair. So many cages locked and sealed since he soared freely through the winds and white wisps above.

The tires rumbled suddenly as they crossed the pavement's edge. The man's eyes opened.

Past, present & future
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