Just like the old man

The old man couldn’t sleep last night. He didn’t even know how long it’d been. Up so late, staring out at the one street light. Christmas colors on some of the houses, but, mostly pitch black in the skies, moon was covered by a haze, stars weren’t out. Just a darkness, a weariness ’bout the night. The sounds of the road, semis cruising at top speeds out on 41, teens out late on a Saturday night, the cop waiting to catch em.

He had forgotten how she liked this hour of the morning. She used to wake up naturally ’round 3:30 and put on a pot of coffee. He wondered if she still did that. Wondered a lot of things ’bout her. It’d been years since he’d seen her. Last time they’d talked was when he was up in Vermont with a broken down Dodge. Needed money for a mechanic, and a little to live off of. Just a bit so that he could eat for a couple of days. He’d gone awhile without a bite.

So, she bailed him out. Told him this was the last time. He said he promised to pay it back to her; broken promises. Just like the vows he took. Broke those too. Mistakes were made though he had good intentions. Thinking one day he’d land on his feet. Whatever that meant.

Hello, he said out loud. What’s become of us?, the old man whispered. Maybe she’d remarried. Maybe she was living in a lighthouse up in Maine. Said she always wanted that.

And he, living in a weekly motel. Spent his days and nights talking to himself ’bout old times. Living on coffee and cream. His paunch had become just a pot belly. An empty pot belly.

He didn’t dare look her up. Didn’t care ’bout pictures, promotions, anything. Stopped cursing her and wished her nothing but the best. Maybe that’s what all old men did. Maybe.

Under his nightstand he had an album of colored photos from their trip to Paris. Old pictures from when they were in their thirties. He never looked at it, but he wouldn’t throw it away either. It just sat there collecting dust. Just like the old man.

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