Prompt 011: Direction

directions

Photograph taken by Craig Bagno, who may ‘walk aimlessly’ through New York, but manages to capture some great moments of life in the city. Check out more at bagnostian.tumblr.com

The car slowed to a crawl and came to a stop at the side of the road. The windows rolled down with deliberance as if the glass were preventing those inside from observing a real and unaltered view. Nothing of interest was taking place on the sidewalks or the parks to the east or the street, the steady traffic decreasing on a Sunday evening. After some time the car ceased to hum and rattle and became quiet.

From within the car he watched the avenue in shadow opposite, waiting for hesitant street lamps to illuminate. Trees lined alongside a long reaching arm of telephone poles uninterrupted. He sat in the car and considered it all. Its look and its feel, to assess its ambience. If it was the same place then it had changed. None of it conjured any sort of recognition in his mind, no memories or familiarity. He continued to sit and to think.

Watching a scene in the side mirror he noticed the great distance between him and the setting sun and a church that stood black against the sky and he could see the lights and hear the traffic at the junction behind him. A shout and a car horn and birds and the rest. Senseless actions recurrent with insignificant consequences.

The radio spoke and sounded alien to him. The context of the show changed from the weather to a local news story, which detailed a violent break-in where an elderly man had been forced to fight off a young intruder and had left the boy in a coma, of which he remained in critical condition. He thought about the motivations of the boy and whether he had acted out of desperation or greed or spite or fear, and whether, if he did wake up, he would have any grounds for grievance with the old man; after all, it was he who had broke the law, trespassed and attempted to steal from an honest man. He felt sympathy for the store owner, who according to the report had been, understandably, deeply traumatised by the event, a man who had only been attempting to protect his home and business. He had used a shovel to defend himself. Once the intruder was down the store owner continued to attack until he collapsed gasping for breath and the floor was slick and wet with blood. When the report finished the man in the car turned the radio off and sat in silence, trembling.

In which direction would the car head. He glanced into the mirror again. The church remained, but the outline it cast against that brilliant orange purple horizon was becoming less and less pronounced. The sky was darkening and soon the church would merge into a dark and vast twilight and cease to exist from this point of view. But it would still be there, known to him and those who had also seen it and knew of its being. Perhaps lost to others who had not been present to witness. Within minutes the church was gone and the man started the car and drove deeper into the night.

© Nicholas J. Parr, 2015

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