Friday, August 17, 2007


The stranger slowly rolled into the dusty town on his iron horse, a Harley Road King. Only the ghosts seemed to notice, nobody else was around.

He took in the scene as he went, here the remains of a Phillips 66 station, there a boarded up place that may have been a hotel. An abandoned school house stood crucified at the edge of town on top of a rise in the landscape. On one side of the school was an oak tree and the other a lone swing. It moved to and fro in the dry wind, childless and lonely.

A few people still lived in the area. Clinging onto the skeleton of the once busy town in the Oregon High Desert. An assortment of vehicles in varied states of dilapidation sat in the driveways of several houses.

The stranger dismounted in front of the long closed gas station and fumbled around in his saddlebag retrieving a digital camera. He tried to take a picture of the old-style gas pump. It sat like a monument to the fading memory of a place alive. Dead batteries.

An old woman announced her presence by the slam of a screen door at a house across the street. The front part of the home had been badly converted into a convenience store. The stranger and the old woman exchanged polite greetings as he went inside looking for batteries and something to drink.

A dozen flies flitted in the air; a fine layer of dust covered the candy bars on the counter top. She didn't have any batteries to fit the camera. He grabbed a Pabst Blue Ribbon out of the rusty floor cooler and fished a piece of jerky out of a jar. Thinking the jerky should be safe, since it takes them a long time to go bad.

The stranger told the old woman that he was a history buff. She said it would be fine if he wanted to look around a bit. As long as he stayed out of the buildings and didn't steal or break anything.

He walked down the road and sat down on the faded wooden front porch of the school house. The once grassy yard was overgrown with sagebrush. He opened his beer and sipped slowly as he looked at the scene. He felt a little sad as he thought about how time keeps on ticking, nothing stays the same, we grow old, we die and eventually nobody remembers we had even existed. Time erases everything, and this town was nearly finished.

The swing was motionless now and he thought about the last time a child sat on it. He wondered if she even knew it would be her last time. The late afternoon wind gusted, re-animating the swing. His morose expression was replaced by a faint smile as he thought maybe the swing wasn't so lonely and childless after all.

Back at his motorcycle, the stranger ignited the fire that brought his iron horse back to life. He rolled out of town slowly, almost reluctantly, then quickened as he opened up the throttle.

The old woman looked on as he went out of sight past the old cemetery. Only a dust cloud marked the stranger's progress along the way. The Road King roared, echoing off the narrow canyon walls.

Then the din of its motor faded and was gone, replaced by the voice of the wind. The dust settled back onto the desert floor and the Sun went down behind the distant mountains, all was well.
©2007 N.(Kano)Miles, Kano's eCoffee House

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R.G. said...

I envy your ability to paint a picture with your words Kano.

Kano said...

r.g.-Thanks, I'm working on it. The actual title of the story is "The Swing". The Iron Horse - Road King is on the title line to attract search engines.

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