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Chaos Heard His Voice.

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Cemeteries are the least lonesome of all escapes from life. Hundreds of friends greet the grave-keeper with serene welcome and acceptance as the sun sets and the moon engulfs the darkness. He has been waiting to step foot on such sacred ground from the moment he opened the gate the morning before. As he walks through the tombstones addressing each cold comrade with warm-hearted joy, he loses himself in the rows. The grave-keeper has grown old, but that doesn’t stop his dynasty of memories resurfacing from the labyrinth of his mind.


First his mother, how beautiful she was, the sweet smell of her perfume as she comforted him; he would fly away as with an angel while his father beat at the door with hate in his heart. The hot scent of whiskey forced its way through the cracks of the only thing separating dreams and reality. While the keeper was with his angel in a utopia of love and security, his father yelled and broke the careful order of their home. It always ended the same, his father passed out on the hardwood floor and his mother’s pure tears dried on his cheek.
He shuddered in the frost of the autumn wind, leaves crunching under his feet. The grave-keeper bent slowly to liberate a lone headstone from a fallen tree limb; cold and barren, it crumbled in his hand. The glow from the moonlight reached the Row of Reverends and a skunk trotting lightly.


He had thought of church, searching for closure. Then again, God couldn’t provide closure, protection, healing. One night the door wasn’t enough. Perhaps if it had been made of oak, he thought, fate would have lost the scraping battle of survival once again. When the door splintered, his father raged through, his eyes red, with that smell, that horrible, god awful smell. He remembered the screaming of his mother, the husky bear noises of his father, and the warm blood on his forehead as he fell to the ground.


The old section always got him, people from the twenties, a time of idealist release and lackluster escapes of self. They attempted to recover with parties, buying on credit, and scandalous escapades. He wondered if they were happy they died before the stock market crash, the Great Depression, Hoovervilles and starvation. Then again the amazing will of mankind to survive and be miserable in the best situations, pulling themselves up and fighting through death and destruction, they wished they could have been there. A majestic deer slowly walked past the largest statue in the yard. “You love it here too, don’t you?” He called out, half expecting a response, a little surprised when no words reached him.


“You’ll love it here, son; you’re part of our family now.” The politician said, “Dinner in a half hour.” He didn’t want to be part of their family. The “father” parted his hair like a math teacher, the mother had no compassion in her eyes, and the children were wastes of space in this overpopulated world. He pulled out a picture of his mother. He was fourteen, only three months without her, and he couldn’t bear it. This family didn’t care about him, what happened, anything; the politician was getting ahead in the running by adopting a poor “emotionally disturbed” child. Dinner never came, and he never felt better climbing out the window running from roast beef to find absolution in the apathy of isolation.



The grave keeper approached his favorite tombstone, an empty plot to its right, and smiled with the serenade of the muses.





“Norah S. O'Neil

1992-2010
May she find sleep in her death,
which she could never in life.”



He always stayed with her a little longer; in the ten years he had been walking this yard, no one had taken her place in his heart. He never knew her, what she looked like, what she loved, where she lived. Regardless, he thought of her like a long lost love, he loved the idea of her. Had she lived, they would be the same age, perhaps friends; she once roamed this yard endlessly. He imagined being together, holding one another tight, neither able to fall into the deep recesses of slumber, the battle of loneliness, to live.


He grew strong on the streets, working odd jobs to survive. Guss Nuley found his way into the grave keeper’s life and presented an opportunity. Bouncer for the Nuley Saloon. He never slept anyway, if he tried; nightmares of those red eyes terrorized him yet again. So he made a living beating his past into out of control drunks. For years and years his malicious contempt for his rotting father found its way onto stranger’s jaws, flesh splitting, and blood running freely. Parole granted his father the liberty of freedom. Of course, the first place he went was the only thing he knew. The whiskey soaked in his bones once again, reddened his eyes and fueled his anger. When the grave keeper was asked to throw out the old drunkard stumbling by the Lynard Skynard poster; it stopped. Everything stopped. After years of meaningless misdirection and increased renditions of nothingness, he had fallen into a complete state of emotional stasis. In three seconds of recognition, he cried for the first time since the angel fell. He cried as he eradicated the deleterious monster of his nightmares. For a flittering second as the cell door closed, he thought of his father’s pleading eyes, and if the coroner could find them.


His rounds were done, so he returned to Norah. Sunrise was still lingering lifetimes away from him, a wasteland prophesy of lost promises and a new beginning. He sat in front of her headstone, flying away. He had read her file, dug up her obituary, anything to enlighten him of her reality. He kept the weeds away, protected her, like he couldn’t protect anyone else, how no one could when she was alive. He talked to her about everything, his entire life; he only thought it fair for a ghost of lost cause to find refuge in his company, as he found in hers. No one visited her anymore, parents dead, siblings gone, friends but forgotten in life’s ruthless dissimulation. He was there, though they were both lonely before death tore them from themselves without remorse, no more. The sun’s rays crept into the peaceful secrets of the damned. He stood, birds chirping gleefully, opened the gate, and bid his life farewell, until nightfall.



***


He’s with me now, the grave keeper. We sit on our tombstones, which are side by side; he bought the plot before it could be filled. We speak of the birds, of deer, visitors, and the new grave keeper. We don’t have a past, no memory, no sleep. It doesn’t matter anymore. Nobody can escape the catacombs of their terror, except by death. We were blessed with that opportunity, and finally, I am not alone. The graveyard is the most lonesome place to the dead. You see, the others, the others that belong to these tombstones are far away in the bliss of their design. Not I, I was waiting for the grave keeper, for he was as lonesome as me.





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