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.