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The sun was preparing to set in a small southern town. A young man by the name of Daniel Brown sat behind the wheel of an old brown Toyota pick up, the scorching rays from the Texas sun finding his tan skin through the windows. He drove in an opposite direction of the town desperate to find answers that might settle the trouble and unanswered questions which often plagued his mind. He knew where he wanted to go, he just wouldn’t know if it would happen. A wind blew through the old truck’s back windows like the way rumors blew around the town he rushed to leave, quick and harsh.
Daniel drove a back road that he knew many people didn’t take, unless they planned on doing something illegal. He remembered vividly the nights where his classmates would gather around the old gravel road with their half empty bottles of Bud Light, but those nights were gone. They had simply floated off with time. Although he couldn’t shake the smell of the girls hair, thick with hairspray and perfume. Neither could he stop hear ing the hearty laughter of kids not quite grown up as he maneuvered the road while the sun pushed towards the West and night started its crawl across the sky.
His drove along the road until his head hurt from the many smells, sounds, and images he imagined, which happened rather quickly. He finally came upon a dangerously sharp turn in the road. The hurt his head was experiencing became much more intense, the dull pounding transitioned into more of a drill. This turn was the cause of the many troubles which sat upon his brain, it was also his destination. He pulled off into a grass pasture. He turned the keys and took them out of the ignition slowly and carefully. He thought wether it was silly or not to stop and if he should simply put the keys back into the ignition, drive home, and continue his night how it should go.
He decided to go against his better judgement. He stepped out of car and walked over next to the concrete barrier. He closed his eyes and visualized those nights he spent by the very spot he stood next too. The endless jokes and meaningless kisses that had been shared haunted him. No one knew things were going to end up like this.
Time passed as his thoughts and memories tumbled around in his head. When he opened his eyes, the sky blazed with leftover sun, oranges and yellows, little stars started to appear one by one. Headlights had appeared as well, Daniel didn’t notice until they were close enough to blind. He stared at the headlights, frozen, not with fear, but with curiosity. The lights shut off soon enough and a dark figure appeared out of the old truck. He couldn’t figure out who it was by the truck. The night hid the features, besides, everyone had a truck.
“It’s awfully late to be out on this road alone isn’t it?” The mysterious figure’s voice called out. The voice was raspy and unrecognizable. It carried a six pack of Corona. Daniel could hear footsteps on the roasted crispy grass. As he got closer, Daniel finally mustered a thought on who the face was through the near blackness. If he was right, it was Cameron Tarps, a lanky wide receiver, who had spent equally as many nights out on the road they were both standing on as himself. Him and Cameron never were best friends, but were as dimly aquatinted as two could be in a town of two thousand.
“Cameron?” Daniel questioned.
“I thought I was the only crazy bastard who came out here anymore.” He laughed, but through his laughter, you could tell he was just as lost as Daniel was.
“This is my first time. I just thought I’d check it out...” Daniel trailed off.
There was silence as Cameron walked over by the turn at the opposite end of the concrete barrier and placed the six pack of Corona down. You could see Cameron shove both of his hands in his jeans afterwards and stare at the small reminder of daylight in the western sky. He finally walked back over by Daniel looking behind his shoulder the entire time.
“It’s different, isn’t it?” He asked.
“Yes, it is.” Daniel shook his head up and down. “So it happened right here?” Daniel said walking out in the grass between the barrier and the road, by the old barbwire fence.
“Yeah. The car ended up there.” Cameron pointed over into another empty pasture about twenty yards behind the barrier.
“Unbelievable.” Daniel murmured.
For a moment everything felt surreal. The purple and oranges of the sun suffocated beyond the far off fields, struggling, silently surrendering to nights firm grip. The stars multiplied. Both minds were entwined in the same twisted reality. Both hearts were filled with the same kind of never ending grief.
“I think he watches me, you know? Well, they watch me.” Cameron said. Daniel nodded his head, because he understood the feeling perfectly. “Unless I’m crazy.” Cameron added in the absence of Daniel’s voice.
Daniel spoke, while musing over the observation Cameron made which aligned so closely to his own, “You’re not crazy. I feel it too, all the time. They both watch all of us, whether we want to acknowledge it or not.”
Cameron looked back towards me, and the town which laid roughly a mile down the road. You could see the outlines of old worn buildings in the distance. A train’s horn sounded as a beastly machine came tearing down the tracks that laid sternly in front of the town.
“You know what’s funny?” Asked Cameron. Not bothering to wait for a response from Daniel he continued, “The fact that somedays I wake up and I go to call one of them, to ask one of them to take me to school, like old times. It’s never until the second ring I remember what happened, remember all of this. You’d think I’d, you know, remember... But it’s always the second ring... I’s just ridiculous... And sad...” Cameron cleared his throat, trying to shove the balled up emotion he held in his throat back down to where ever they emerged from.
Daniel could do nothing but keep from sobbing himself. Truthfully, Daniel had not cried yet over the whole ordeal. He preferred to keep his feelings back where not even himself could find them. This was different though, sitting next to the star wide receiver, who could not keep tears from rolling down his own hardened face. It suddenly made Daniel want to drown himself in sorrow.
“I just hope he gets his Corona... I bring him a six pack every other Sunday night. Right here. It used to be his favorite. If it wasn’t Corona...” Cameron lost his words quite swiftly as his eyes filled with heavy tears.
“You know what Daniel? I told him not to get in the car. I told him not to get in the damn car. I don’t think anyone knows that. I told him not too.” Cameron was full blown crying now, sobbing in between words. He turned away from Daniel, ashamed of his overwhelming grief. Daniel looked at his back, eyes full of sorrow. For the first time since the accident, Daniel let tears stream down his cheeks. He let his emotion overtake his body and leak into every vein he possessed.
The sun had completely fallen now and stars shone brightly, blissfully unaware of all the pain and hurting which was taking place underneath them. Blackness swallowed the town and only the dodgy streetlights were there to guide with the little light they had. Daniel’s headache had disappeared instead of intensified from crying.
“They are never coming back.” Daniel said, as if it was the first time it had occurred to him, which is some ways, it was.
Cameron stopped sniffling abruptly, “No, Daniel they aren’t. They are never coming back.” The two boys simultaneously looked up to the navy sky together.
Cameron fell to his knees and buried his swollen face in his massive hands. Daniel’s eyes stayed glued to the sky as Cameron cried out into the night, a howl as hallow and with as much heartache as a lonely wolf. Silence then crept over the two.
To the boys amazement, they could hear coyotes in the far off distance, howling back at Cameron’s doleful cry. And in the midst of the despair, Daniel felt like he had found some rare honesty and finally some answers.
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