Entry Eighty-five: Adam Mahoney, You Just Won!

[The next many entries are the current story I am working on. This is fifteen of who knows how many will be posted. Enjoy it while it lasts...]

Chapter Six

After he topped off his tank, Adam pulled up to the entrance of the parking lot and, out of habit, checked both ways for traffic. As he began his final descent toward downtown he noticed a slight flare of confidence begin to stir in his gut. It was very small and wouldn’t have normally been noticed except it was in direct opposition to all of the fear, uncertainty and angst that had dominated him for the last few days. The incident at the gas pump served as a small glimpse into possibilities he had yet to entertain.

He absentmindedly stopped at the red traffic light one block from the downtown district of shops and assorted small businesses, checking the radio to find out if any stations were active. All he heard was static up and down the dial so he clicked it off and shrugged. When the light turned green he drove slowly, remaining cautious, scanning the streets for any movement or sign of life, just in case. He was immediately struck by the stillness of the streets. He was vaguely pleased that every building and store remained intact, all ready for business, all eerily empty and silent. His insides lurched as he passed store after store that, just one week ago, had been lively and practicing capitalism at various degrees of success. Would he ever get used to this scene? Would he one day take the emptiness for granted and drive through town with no sense of the past, no memory of last week? Or would he avoid coming back any more than was necessary, finding alternate routes to the grocery store, leaving the downtown alone, like a state park, a museum display preserved for future visitors to see how small town life used to be in the days before the note? He hoped not, but he wasn’t sure of anything anymore. He hoped he would always feel the loss if for no other reason than it would allow him to feel something other than confusion and fear. Those emotions were his constant companions of the moment and were probably the only visitors that would ever be interested in how the downtown used to be and even then the interest would be limited.

He debated whether to stop the car and walk around but decided to stay on task and find some food. He had seen and experienced enough and he needed some time to process his initial trip downtown. He had reserved just enough energy to deal with his sustenance needs and he didn’t want to burn that up before he completed the task. The local IGA grocery store was only one block south and two blocks east of downtown so he was driving into the parking lot minutes after he had cruised through the business district. Since the IGA wasn’t open 24-hours, there were no cars in the parking lot; apparently four a.m. was too early for any of the employees to have reported to work. His initial thought as he pulled in was “They must be closed” but he caught his mistake and then wondered how long it would take for him to change his reactions to every day impulses. Currently they offered a small sense of comfort, a reminder of the past, but he anticipated them becoming annoying real soon. He pulled up to the front door and parked in the first available slot next to the spaces reserved for persons with handicaps. As he put the car into park he glanced over to the empty spot and realized what he’d done. He put the car in reverse and pulled into the reserved space directly in front of the front door and said, “If there has ever been a person handicapped, it would have to be the last man standing on the face of the earth.”

All words and images ©2006/J. Colle

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