In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
February 23, 1993
John Sig lived in a squat, fortress of a house that he had paid for with cash many, many years ago. A tall iron fence surrounded the large yard. His neighbors were all young and well to do and he knew that they regarded him with a touch of suspicion. But John understood how the game was played; he made all the right gestures, the normal gestures. Every year he bought Girl Scout cookies from the Jones' girl and every 2 weeks he paid one of the neighborhood boys to keep his front lawn neatly trimmed. He was generous to the carolers when they stopped at his door, he was even more generous to the children on Halloween. Hell, he was even nice to the Jehovah’s Witnesses!
Because of that, his neighbors paid no mind that he let his backyard grow wild and unkempt, with knee deep grass and thick brambles. They turned a blind eye to his comings and goings at odd hours.
His bedroom, like the rest of his home, was scantly furnished. John lay on the bare mattress he used for a bed, staring into the darkness, trying to will himself to rest. The darkness seemed to shift his already acute senses into overdrive. A treebranch scraped against the side of the house. Cars passed on the street, their exhausts spraying foulness. A cat was in the trash, rustling though the empty tins of Spam and chicken salad. Damn things, they never learned.
His hair hung about his face in thick sweat-clumped locks. When he sat up, the squeal of mattress springs filled his ears. He stumbled to the window, his cane forgotten, and threw open the sash. Cool air washed over his naked body. Rain was coming, John could almost taste it, cold and sweet.
A bird fluttered through the air someplace nearby, the sound of its wings like the heartbeat of a frightened animal.
A voice long gone echoed through his mind, “Everything you were- Everything you are- Everything you could have had- All of it gone!”