Word Count 496
Blessed With a Final Encounter
It was one of those waking dreams—you think you’re awake, can’t move. Realize you’re still asleep, dreaming of being awake, unable to move. Except he really was awake.
He could hear his son’s voice near his head. Didn’t sound right, but it was him, the words indistinct, strangled, reverberating like he was under water. A succession of not-quite-right voices that day. His bride, his other boy, his daughter. Talk, talk, talk. Long silences. More talk. He wanted to interrupt. Say something. Make up for the times he had said the wrong thing. Or nothing. But he couldn’t make his mouth work. Could hardly put a thought together, let alone sentences.
He drifted. Exhilarated. Those sharp curves, knee almost touching pavement! Skimming along. Freedom! His body one with chrome and leather, air whooshing over the windshield, drying his sweat, the Harley’s throaty growl vibrating through every cell. Going a tad-bit fast, but still careful. Maintaining balance. Been dying for months. But not today, glorying in life. Pain blurred like the trees.
Before the trip, he had the bike blessed. “Bless me Father, for I have sinned….” Was this Karma? No, he didn’t believe in that stuff. He believed in God the Father, the Son….
His son was mumbling something. Friggin’ kid—apologizing. What did he do this time? Bike gone, he sat in the garage atop an overturned bucket. Couldn’t make out the words. Speak up! I’m friggin’ deaf!
Why was everybody hanging around? Earlier, sitting by the ravine, adrenaline amplifying everything: odors of fallen leaves, damp earth, brilliant sunshine tempering the November chill. Slammer buck in his sight, twelve-pointer! And she started up, telling him it was okay to go, they’d be all right. Pulled his shot. Buck gone. What was she doing in the woods?
And then more voices. “You all have to leave so I can go!” he wanted to shout.
Waited for his bride and daughter to take off. Didn’t want them here for this. Besides, they had an appointment. He was supposed to go with them, but he couldn’t go until it was time.
At the workbench now, taking a shotgun apart, more mumbled apologies. Tried to tell the boys to take care of their mother. Probably didn’t listen. Wasn’t a blessed thing he could do about it.
Workbench gone. What the frig! Must be back in bed. And now it was time to join the girls. The one son was still sitting there. Sorry, kid. Can’t wait. A blinding flash, then wooly darkness. Singing. No. A steady lub-dub, lub-dub. Below him, a stranger rubbed a microphone-thing over his daughter’s swollen belly. A black and white image appeared on a small screen, tiny appendages, huge head. Ahh—a stem. All three of them—wife, son-in-law, daughter, in tears. He wiped his eyes, tried to get their attention. Nobody looked up at the ceiling.
“Too bad I won’t be here to teach him to hunt.” Then, everything blurred. And he was gone.