I give the kid a piece of bittersweet chocolate. He looks young enough to take it and be grateful for it. He looks old enough that he’ll expect me to ask for something in return.
I won’t, because in his wary acceptance I see the fires of hell.
I’ve earned my bitter desert dreams. I’ve nurtured blood and death. I rend the air with screaming nightly, but this kid, he never speaks, not a word, not a sound. His hell is a cold, cold place. He’s isolated by it, frozen past feeling.
I think that’s enough to be going on with.
Ominous clouds curdle overhead. Darkness approaches. We have a choice: follow the rails to the east or the west. I don’t suppose it even matters, but I let him point the way. Our boots crunch over gravel. Sometimes, like the boy he is, he balances on the iron line, arms out, indomitable. Look at me.
I say, “Aren’t you something?”
He turns and gives me a hard stare that shuts my mouth again.
Tough boy. Broken man.
Yes. We’ll get along well enough.
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