a way home

It had been the longest of trips, that which transports a boy to manhood and beyond. In all the overlooks and twists and curves along the way, he had seen and done about all he thought he ever wanted to see and do. But all he really had to show for the effort was a remarkably incomplete feeling of wasteful exhaustion. As his heart fell from his chest daily and orbited the empty pit of his stomach, he felt completely tired and used up.

It was impossible to understand his complex quest. It had been a journey he was always ticketed to take alone. And so he did, jumping almost gleefully headlong into the bottomless, swirling mists of irresponsibility. And after the baptism by fire had subsided somewhat, he never in a million years would have thought that not only were his mother and father right, but every old adage ever slung at him over his course of misspent youth was as well. You can never appreciate the bounty of what you have until you no longer possess it. The phrase -and thousands of incarnations of it- sloshed around in his head like the swimming pool on an ocean liner. It made him feel hopeless. It made him soften on the inside somewhat. He felt tragically mistaken.

There was a ratty old dog knocking around the alley way, scaring itself half to death with ill-timed cascades of garbage, but the mongrel was too damned starved to stay frightened for long. The dog was nosing around the back of the coffee shop when it realized someone was watching. He locked eyes with the dog for a brief moment. It was the same look of sad despair and longing he had seen in his own mirror more so now than not.

Was it too much to ask for a place to call his own? You know, where the rain will stay off his head and no one is prone to beat him too often? You got something like that, partner? The man shrugged his shoulders at the mutt and it turned away into the inky shadows of the alley, dejected as usual.

The man rocked back on the bench and cupped the side of his head with a hand and stared up at the sunlight rippling through the cottonwood branches. His plight was not so far removed after all, take away the separation by number of propulsive limbs, amount of hair, lack of tail, and the fact that he didn’t have to root through garbage cans to curry out a living just yet. He let the sunlight dapple his face as his leaned back against the seat and secretly made a wish that he knew could not come true fast enough.

He sealed his eyes tightly and counted to three and hoped for the appearance of the correct path that would silently lead him back to his home.


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