He followed along the path lined with pines, sycamores, oak, cedars. Off in the distance the smell of cherry wood burning on a campfire. White smoke made it’s way through the forest where birds, crows, hawks, cardinals, flew over the tops of these trees, high in the sky, making their way down South for winter rejuvenation. He followed them. He followed.
Took up a stick for a cane. Dug it into the soft earth with each step. Noticed the sun was going down. Could feel the moon creeping in on him. He knew he had to make it out of the woods before dark. That’s when the ghosts come out, coyotes prowl, and bobcats hiss into the night.
The old man checked his watch. It read Nov. 1 1986 5 p.m. in a digital green light. His son had given it to him for his 50th birthday. It was the only gift he got that year. His daughter had let time slide by and his ex-wife was just that, an ex-wife. There had been no communication between them for years. She took off for San Francisco and he had taken off on the road leaving all responsibilities behind. Picked up odd jobs here and there, slept under bridges, shelters, cardboard boxes. He had no need for the riches in life; a good pair of boots and a cup of coffee was all he required.
Up ahead he could hear cars and trucks moving down the road. He knew he was going to make it out this time. Make it out of the hands of nature, back to hitching on the main roads where black top heats up in the summer’s blaze. He listened as the birds sang a song upon their flight. Free, they were free too. He admired that about them, inspired him. Kept him walking along the path of completeness.