Eyes Opening in the Dark

All my memories, gather round her

Miner’s lady, stranger to blue water

Dark and dusty, painted on the sky

Misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eye
Country roads, take me home

To the place I belong,

West Virginia

HONK!

Shit. Sounds and images quickly dove back beneath consciousness as he looked up to see a green light glaring from above and a Pakistani cab driver mimicking its disdain from behind.

There was the briefest flash of something (alive?) inside him. A fast-motion reel of instinct and anger: shifting the transmission to park, unbuckling his belt, opening the car door to a cacophony of enraged city motorists, walking briskly back to the cab, extracting the cabby through his driver’s window–to the serenade of frantic alien chittering, and then smashing his face with a fist. Over, and over, and over. And just as imagination cocked another righteous blow, the thought evaporated as quickly as it had emerged.

Like so many other thoughts in the past year.


He ignored the gesturing behind him and accelerated forward into the city’s cold labyrinth as the skies disgorged a bitter sleet. When did this weather start? He tried to recall what month it was, and couldn’t even summon surprise at realizing he didn’t know.

He was traveling across town to see her. It had been a year since she left him. Or at least something near enough to a year–time wasn’t as much an interest any more. He just knew he had last seen her in winter, on an angry day not much unlike this one.

The pain was still acute whenever he cared to dredge it up. Though in an empty soul, even misery is decent company. So periodically, when his resolve deserted the field, he would call her cell phone. She never even picked-up. But he could always count on hearing that same recorded greeting in the familiar velvet of practiced professionalism: Hello, you’ve reached Sarah Wilson. I’m not available at the moment, but please leave a message and I will return your call shortly. Thank you, and have a good day. Each time he would recall how those tones used to soften in his ear.

Sometimes upon calling he would just hang up, though other times he accepted the invitation to leave a message. He told her he still loved her. He missed her. That he was sorry. That he would move the heavens to have her back. Occasionally he even left long monologues just to share what had happened that day. What was on his mind. No one else gave a damn about his life, who else was there to tell? Though no matter the message, she never called back shortly…or ever.

He mused at the irony. There were times during their marriage when he would yearn to sample the pleasures of other women. And now that the buffet was open, his appetite had escaped. It wasn’t as though his libido was dead, but that his spirit was. He barely had the motivation to slice an apple; courting a woman may as well have been walking to the moon. Overall, it was not an entirely impressive emotional performance from a man whose wife had taken flight. Marriages ended every day; just not his.

As the car wound through streets piloted seemingly by limbic system alone, he began anticipating what he would say to her in person. He hoped for an opportunity to appeal, or at least just an indication she was listening. That’s all he wanted for today…to know she was hearing him. Perhaps some fond reminiscing would lure a smile back to her face.

As his own mouth almost creased in that forgotten act, he realized he was driving down Market Street. “When did I…” The thought vanished as he glimpsed gaudy fast-food signage on the right, as his foot eased off the gas.

The place hadn’t been this industrial sub-shop eight years ago. But rather a local pig sty whose name it hurt to recall. He had been consuming a typically mediocre lunch when a woman’s voice startled him: Hey, do you know Jason Parker?

Huh?

She pointed to the logo on his shirt. I thought you might work with him.

Mmm, a pretty girl. Jason Parker suddenly became a topic of interest.

Sure, I know him. Are you friends?

Same hometown. If you see him, tell him Sarah said hello.

I’ll do that. So do you li…

She was already walking out the door. Damn.

As that meeting had largely faded as far from relevance as Jason Parker, he was surprised a couple of weeks later to be looking for a seat in an entirely different restaurant and see a woman a few feet away casting about for her own table. It was her, of course.

Dressed shorn of logos, he didn’t expect to be recognized, but smiled and said hello regardless. To his surprise, she returned the smile brightly and, even more felicitous, asked if he would like to join her. He would indeed. And some uncounted hours later, their lunch ended too soon in an otherwise empty restaurant.

Sarah, can I call you?
She grinned mischievously, I’d never speak to you again, if you didn’t.

He drove home that day like an infatuated schoolboy. Many more lunches followed. And the anniversary of the first was celebrated on their honeymoon. In a nod to origins, she would routinely offer a winking invitation to join her at meals. Even years later, he was happy to oblige. But she never asked anymore.

The city corridors were thinning out now as he passed into the suburbs. He thought how strange are the compartmentalizations of loss. How the mind is more supple than the heart. He comprehended she was gone from his life, but still didn’t believe it. What was plainly apparent couldn’t possibly be so. He simply knew they would be together again, while logic dictated otherwise. Was there a final stage of grief where mind and emotion aligned? He wished he still took some pleasure from music, as it would be a comfort to such considerations.

Finally he reached her address. Noticing the ornate fencing, he thought ruefully I see you got in a gated community, honey. Passing through the front entrance, he tried to remember which was hers–they were all so similar here. But there it was, near the back just over a small hill. He parked in front of her place and strode across the tiny lawn. She was there waiting for him.

Sarah Wilson
1980-2015

And in the driving sleet, he sat on wet grass beside her and talked for hours as if no one else existed–just as they had done years before.

Driving home he allowed himself only the briefest view behind the curtain he had pulled over the memories of that day. Police knocking on his door, the anvil of his heart dropping as they explained his wife’s death. She had been killed by a drunk driver. An illegal Honduran. Not only drunk, but street racing. He had lived. And at his only court appearance after killing Sarah Wilson, was allowed to post bond of $5,000. He had not been seen since.

$5,000. His wife was dead and a drunk illegal Honduran was out $5,000. He imagined many more tears would be shed in liberal circles over the latter.

Arriving home, he sank into the couch oblivious to the discomfort of sodden clothes. His hand disinterestedly fingered the remote. One channel was as good as any other, or none at all. A cable news show scratched at his eyes from the dark corner. In it some vapid politician was railing about a wall: nativist, xenophobic, hate, hate, HATE!! He exhaled heavily and clicked it off returning the room to a sullen gloom.

His eyes closed seeking the familiar refuge of emptiness. But something turned insistently. Something that politician had said. One particular word. Waking a sentiment inside him from its long dormancy. Something every man bears, though most are trained to deny. Something that separates the living from the not-yet-dead. His eyes opened in the darkness, and he felt it. Burning. Vivid. Unapologetic.

He was alive.

36 thoughts on “Eyes Opening in the Dark

  1. I like the closing epiphany of the story. It’s a moment we hope more and more of us will experience, the resurgence of that long-suppressed healthy natural instinct.

  2. I like your suggested Trump administration line-up on Twitter. I wonder is there a realistic chance of Coulter for Attorney General. I’ve never heard of anyone going from journalist to AG, although she is trained as a lawyer. You passed over Lindsey Graham. He’d be a safe choice for Melania’s hair stylist or her bedchamber valet.

  3. Porter.

    I refuse to believe that your talent hasn’t bubbled up somewhere more prominent than this WordPress ghetto.

    Who are you? You a bestselling author? That why you never solicit us for shekels?

    • this WordPress ghetto

      lol, can’t argue with that. I do need to devote much more time to higher ROI writing.

      And as for shekels, the cupboards would have to be bare of Gefilte fish before I’d ever ask.

  4. Thanks everyone. I didn’t know if there would be much appetite for this genre of blog post. Though if you click on the single link in the story, you’ll note it’s not always fiction.

    Analog: I used to have several similar shorts, but not even sure where they are now.

    Nick: I had to pull the song up and listen again to the lyrics. Yep, you’re right.

    Rob: I think Donald and Ann are friendly, though if he were balls-out enough to install her as AG it would be a very fine eight years indeed. We may have to settle for her in Scalia’s seat. And you’ve probably nailed Lindsey’s career path. Either that or BLT ambassador to ISIS.

  5. Pingback: Eyes Opening in the Dark | Reaction Times

  6. I loved this. I can’t wait to see what happens. I know he will find this Honduran scum and give him his REAL sentence.

  7. I may start posting some more fiction. I’ll have to look it up, but somewhere vaguely recall hearing the 50 Shades of Gay bimbette posted her book by chapters on a blog. Not sure how you make money by that approach, though she seems to have leveraged it nicely.

    Though what inspired this one is empathy for the excrutiating personal loss suffered by so many Americans from this invasion. Losses consciously facilitated by treasonous political whores, preening liberals, and coin-counting plutocrats. Of course the silent anguish of the victims is invisible to a duplicitous media consumed with woe over blacks not getting enough tin trophies. If there is a God, I pray he grants the bereaved a reckoning.

    Here’s a small start.

    • “unapologetic hatred”, “deriding”. “the other”, sounds like Porter is stepping on your toes. Hehehehe I would describe Porter’s post as artfully portraying human emotions in the face of tragedy. One doesn’t apologize for love, why would one ever apologize for hatred?

      • Oh don’t misunderstand. It is not a critique of the prose in the article but more of the style in general. Porter knows I am a long term fan from back way back when.

        “One doesn’t apologize for love, why would one ever apologize for hatred?”

        I certainly don’t. Most who know me will attest to the fact that I am an inveterate racist and anti-Seeeemoite.

  8. Porter this is one of the greatest essays I have ever read. Every week you surpass the week prior. When Christopher Hitchens died I thought no man would surpass his mastery of our language and you have emphatically proven me wrong.

    I have no doubt that I will be reading this pseudonym in Vanity Fair in less than two years’ time.

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  10. Pingback: The Very Best of Last Week in Reaction (2016/03/06) – The Reactivity Place

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