Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Entry #10

Quit These Hills, Exeunt
by Peter Anderson


People in town would be horrified about what I’ve done. They’d say I showed him indignity, as if they ever treated him with dignity themselves. Those respectable people always looked down on him—a man who was never good enough, never anything but an embarrassment to the town.

He drank heavily, mostly as a fuck-you to them; since he’d never have their approval anyway, he’d just drink himself into oblivion, briefly enjoying the buzz before descending into incoherence. I’d show up hours before closing time—answering the bar’s phone call, always the good son—to drag him home. Leaning heavily on my shoulder, he’d spew insults against the town and its hypocrisy all the way back to our house, his feet wobbling all over the sidewalk.

I emerge from the woods, shovel trailing behind me. The moon glows unseen behind an afghan of clouds, a sight he would have liked. I know he would have been happier here, in his beloved hills, under an elusive moon. He never felt at home in town, though he lived there his entire life. He would have gladly left for the hills long ago, but he had to stay where the work was, booze getting him by.

Watching after him was all that kept me in town; now that he’s at rest there’s no reason to stay. I start the engine and steer onto the road, heading away from the powerlines and streetlights of the distant town that was home for neither of us.

21 comments:

linda said...

Alas, finally to live your own life. Gut wrenching.

Joni said...

This is so great. Powerful prose. I love it.

anne frasier said...

very nice.

loved the way the son finally took control and completely justified his actions.

Bonnie Cehovet said...

A great deal of very well written truth here!

robert rohloff said...

I'll drink to that! Shit, make it a double. Great story, Peter.

Jim said...

Nice bit of narrative. It was easy to see how the old drunk never felt at home in town.

Bernita said...

Slight problem with the private burial.
Not a question of indignity as much as I believe there are laws against such.

Scott said...

The burial would have been private anyway, because who would have come. Nicely done piece. I liked your description of the buried moon as being elusive. Nice economic word choice.

K. Lawson Gilbert said...

This was a powerful piece. I love "...an afghan of clouds..."

fringes said...

It's a sad piece. Thanks for sharing. One thing about small towns: bartenders do know your home phone number and they will call for somebody to come pick you up! That was a nice added detail.

anna said...

This piece left me feeling shattered. Excellent!

Dafath said...

i wonder
if he found a home...finally
or turned to dried out
dust in the woods

Lisa said...

Sad tale of a sad life. The pain shines through. Great details!

Bhaswati said...

Skilled use of language to narrate a sad tale in an angst-ridden voice. I liked this bit:

he’d just drink himself into oblivion, briefly enjoying the buzz before descending into incoherence.

Good one.

Shadowrite said...

Sad and wonderful writing. I did find myself wondering what horrible thing he had done from the first line. Was it that he buried his father alone? Well done.

Anna said...

Great narrative. It's such a sad story. It makes you feel for the man and the son who the town shunned. I love the descriptions.

Nicholas Abbot said...

Wow. He really did bury the past. Nice work.

john mcauley said...

Peter: Excellent on every level.

John McAuley

Steve Allan said...

Great piece. Well written.

angel said...

very niiiiiiice!

jason evans said...

I was really mesmerized by the first two paragraphs. I'm usually not a fan of backstory, but you really had me. High marks for technical use of language.