Refrigerator hummed in the corner. Soapy water sat in the sink. Grease floated to the top. A light above the stove gave off a glow. A yellow hue against a white wall. Cockroaches stumbled home across a linoleum counter of brown and black; some white mixed in, tiger striped. The old man sat at the kitchen table reading a newspaper; talking to himself.
He should open up that pipeline, the old man said. Let that oil flow. I don’t know what he’s waiting on, he whispered. Half the nation already thinks the man’s crazy. Dementia. Something, he said out loud. The old man went over to the refrigerator and kicked it. He kicked it again, you never did work, he opened the door. Rummaged through old items; brown lettuce, out of date eggs, four beers in plastic loops. Some rotten oranges sat below.
The old man looked at beer and closed the door. Said, two’s my limit. All I drink is two at a time, he said to himself. Then he opened the refrigerator door and gave em another hard look. One more won’t kill me, he said. One more.
Trucks ran up and down Highway 41 that night; every night. He listened as they applied air brakes, churned gears, drove at high speeds. The old man used to drive trucks. And forklifts, some Bobcats, backhoes. He went from one job to the next. Never held onto one longer than five years. Started drawing social security at an early age. There wasn’t that much to draw from. Told people he hurt his back. Truth was he hurt all over.
He opened the door and walked out onto the small porch. He breathed in. Lit a cigarette. Took his thumb off the Bic. Blew out smoke into the night air. The nicotine clouds mixed with the blue from the streetlights by his trailer. He had fun blowing smoke up into the dark night air. Turning it white. Then blue. The moon shined down on him.
There was no one to wait up for. Not anymore. There was silence. Every old man’s nightmare. If he’d just played his cards right. If he’d just….He wouldn’t be alone.