The Great Bear: part 3

by jamesmerolla

Wayne rocks back in his chair and stares out the window of his office. The chair is a squeaky relic with oily bolts, and green vinyl. Its color is faded from passing through a time when jagged old men smoked cigarettes in their offices.

In his own way, Wayne admires those men with stubby yellow fingers and forked tongues. At least they inspired something in people, even if it was hatred.

He looks out over the shoppers in the aisles of the super market.

He thinks of his home town, its blood shot eyes look warily back at him. He won’t be buried in their cemetery.

It’s a dirty faced town, with backyards full of rocks, and 3 days of summer, and it’s attached to Wayne like an old broken keepsake, but his last reason for visiting must have slipped behind a radiator a long time ago.

Wayne loved the cactus field especially.

Several years ago a foolish man decided to open a cactus dispensary in that wheezing northeastern town. When he closed shop, instead of destroying the cacti he decided to plant it all in the culm field surrounding the town. He assumed it would all die in the winter air, but it held on, and even thrived. It became the prickly green swath spiting everyone.

At first the town was quite taken by this anomaly. Some men tried to make money off it, and scientist roamed like silent specters.

Everyone called it the black desert, and with the glacial momentum of time it became another lonely landmark no one ever thought about, like the old rail bridge and the swimming hole. Kids grew up understanding not to ride their bikes near their, and repeated the legends of giant snakes, and rabid men living inside.

It was decorated with the aluminum ornaments of teenagers, and cast long shadows on the empty coal breaker at dusk.

It was the place Wayne spent most of his youth, warring and loving with the recklessness of a house fire. Some days he can pluck memories from the field like thorns from his fingers. It, not the town, was his home.

He likes to imagine he met Margo in the cactus field, as if she were the embodiment of a true happiness. There is no sound when they are there together, just the silent yawn of the cactus.

There are no more cactus fields to prove himself in. There is no more struggle for him to wrap his arms around. There is only the openness of life, blurred by the heat of the sun.

He’s home with Margo now. She’s upstairs pretending to read while listening to him. He’s downstairs pretending to watch the Late Late Show waiting to see a glimpse of Laura through the window, their curiosities deeper than love.

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