The man in the dark was a mysterious figure. He walked down a wide, dirt road as the sun was coming up and the wind was at his back and the air smelled of rain. His hair was brown and his nose was long and smudged and spread across his face like melted butter and his eyes were beady and brown and his mouth was twisted in a scowl and he couldn’t forgive his father. He wanted to find some place to stay. The trees were on either side of the road and the road was not a paved road; it was a dirt road. It had always been a dirt road and the dirt road would always remain a dirt road as long as God was alive and breathing and his father could not forsake him now. He walked down the dirt road and didn’t think about anything. He wasn’t a good thinker. His thoughts were slow and stepped one after another like building blocks or stones being thrust in the water and his eyes narrowed as he stared at the sun as it was beginning to rise to the start of a new day and the rays of the sun pierced through the shadows and fell upon everything and the sun was the only bright spot in his mind. He failed. He was supposed to have a new job and he failed and he wanted to watch football on television and he couldn’t because he didn’t have a home and he was homeless and the world was homeless because they wouldn’t help him, they were afraid of his brown hair and his big nose and his eyes that were too sharp to see. He thought his father would be disappointed wherever he was-God rest his soul-and he lifted his face and his eyes and he stared at the rising sun and thought he was a failure at life and life failed him. He was not born blind but he was born with a lame leg and he had the surgery when he was five to fix his leg and now he walked with a slight limp. The limp was noticeable and people didn’t like it. The wind was at his back now; the wind shrilled a high, pitched note and the note rang through the trees and the place beyond the horizon and he thought about taking a bath in a river. It was 1979 and the Vietnam War was ending or almost ended or had ended already; the road was a very long road and he had gone from one day to the next day and had walked in the dark. His thought was a thought of stepping stones and food, glorious food to fill his stomach, and he thought maybe he should be a soldier and join the war that couldn’t end. He thought all words were very much the same. Most wars killed the same kinds of people; good, hard-working people who had values and ideas that were unlike other people’s. He learned about Iraq and Vietnam and South Korea in high school and how some of the presidents thought maybe Hitler and Pol Pot were insane. The man couldn’t think about that now. He needed to find work. Or he had to steal food but he hoped he wouldn’t have to steal food from the farmers because he liked farmers who helped America grow strong and stay free. He wanted America to stay free and grow strong and proud and stand against the injustices of war and the freedom it pertained.
He was a man.
He took out a lighter and a cigarette from his pouch and lit a cigarette and his thinking was slow and he thought now about a wife and children of which he had none. The trees were like buildings. They didn’t have fruit.
He was a man and he smoked a cigarette and spit it out and soon he came to a road and at the end of the road was a sign.
He was in Mississippi.
He walked a little further and a building rose up out of the ground. It was a grocery store. He went into the grocery store and pulled a grubby twenty dollar bill out of his pocket and wandered down the aisles, looking for something to eat. He finally settled on a bag of hamburger buns and beef jerky and he purchased it at the cash register from a smiling woman with a big jaw and hair like a rat’s nest. The wind screamed outside and battered at anything within reach. The man was within reach. He swallowed hard and put the food in the sack on his back and he went out into the howling gale and looked up at the sky and realized it was going to rain.
He needed some place out of the rain.