Jonathan Walsh

Discussion in 'Obituaries' started by Anonymous, Oct 17, 2018.

  1. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    It's bright. It's really bright... brighter than it's ever been before. Brighter than the sun-soaked deserts you used to walk ruts into. You're overwhelmed with relief, and... an immense sadness, too. Maybe sadness isn't the right word—but it's a sense of longing. For what, you aren't sure. Maybe you'll figure it out, sooner or later. You always were good at figuring things out, weren't you? You always were a fixer.

    At once, everything comes into focus: You're in a yard, now, and it's your favorite time of year—Autumn in Kentucky. The leaves are blood-red and yellow-green like ripe pears, and they're starting to drop from the beech trees and the cypresses in droves. The grass has reached its terminal phase, and in a few weeks, maybe a month or two, it'll be too cold to grow. If you're lucky, it'll even snow an inch or two. They'll shut down every school in the county, because your buses don't have all-weather tires, and if the buses can't run and the poor kids like you and Paul can't get to school, nobody gets to go to school.

    You realize, belatedly, that you're in your yard—and it surprises you, in a lot of little ways. You're surprised that you recognize it, because you haven't been here in over twenty years. You're surprised that it looks exactly the same: Same crooked porch, same weathered skirting, same overgrown holly-leaf bushes.

    You make for the porch. You take slow, measure steps, and you know you should hear the crunch of dead leaves under your boots, or the turn of soil beneath your heel, but all you can hear is the warblers warbling in the treetops nearby. The porch steps groan beneath your feet, but it's a hollow, distant noise, not of your design. The crisp autumn air smells faintly of firewood.

    "Hey, Jon," Paul calls as you summit the porch. Its floorboards are weather-worn and uneven. The banister is faded and brittle beneath your hand, its columns knocked out here and there, like a man missing a mouthful of pearly whites.

    "Hey, little brother," you greet your sandy-haired cohort, making your way towards the end of the porch to sit down on the ancient swing, its iron-wrought chains rusted decades over. "You got one of those for me?"

    "Always," Paul replies warmly, offering you a Yuengling. It's a nice, neutral beer. It's what you and Paul cut your teeth on, after you'd graduated from swiping Buds from your dad's fridge in the garage. It isn't a twist-top, so you borrow Paul's BIC and thumb the cap off, launching it somewhere into the bushes, likely to be found by the lawnmower's blades next spring.

    "Old man's gonna tan your hide over those bushes, y'know," you tell Paul, grinning wryly over the neck of your beer.

    "Reckon so," Paul answers, chuckling. The two of you share a meaningful look.

    "Where are we, exactly?" you ask, uncertain. Your brow is knit, and you're frowning, because it suddenly occurs to you that you have no idea how or when you arrived here. The panorama lurches slightly to the side; everything's off-kilter. Nothing's quite congruent. You blink, trying to focus on Paul.

    "Home, so far as I can make out," Paul answers. He sets his beer between his thighs, one leg crossed over the other. "Been waitin' on you for a while, you know. I figured you'd make it here, one way or the other... I hoped you'd be a little grayer than the last time I saw you. How'd it happen?"

    You run a hand through your beard, exhaling slowly.

    "I don't know. Shot, maybe. It's... it happened quick, whatever it was... which means I—"

    "—you never said goodbye," Paul guesses, his tone mixed empathy and sadness. "Hell, I'm sorry, Jon. A lot of people loved ya, didn't they?"

    "Yeah. Yeah, I guess so," you tentatively agree. "But they never knew me, did they? The real me."

    "You mean that cold hearted, callous sombitch wearin' your skin?"

    You nod slowly. You're ashamed for just a moment, but it passes.

    "I don't reckon that was you, Jon. That was... a ghost. You get what I mean? The fuckin'... phantom of our old man. Y'know, he could tan your ass with a belt for spillin' paint in the garage, or give you a black eye for comin' home late, but... those scars don't last. It runs deeper'n that. It always does."

    "Maybe," you reply, crossing your ankles against the porch, staring out at the sycamore that dominates the western side of the front yard. You remember that you can hear the slow trickle of the creek nearby, soon to be dry for the winter. You smile.

    "You always did the best you could, Jon," Paul tells you, placing a hand on your shoulder. "That's all any of us can ever do. You hurt folks... plenty of 'em... but you made a lot of folks happy, too. Kept a lot of folks safe."

    You don't answer. You're lost in your own world, deep in thought. A flash of bright red hair dances behind your eyelids as you shut them. The easy laugh of a young man, who you'll never get to watch grow up. A slender, practiced hand that you'll never get to cling to, fingers interlaced, while it grows wrinkled and old. You remember so many faces, and you know that some of them are long gone... and you realize that you, too, are long gone.

    You're dead, and you'll only live on in the memories of the people who knew you best. And one day, your name and your face will cross their mind for the last time... and then you'll really be gone.

    You want to cry, and you don't. You want to scream, and you don't. Impotent rage briefly overtakes you, but it slithers out of your heart like a snake, its blood cold in the overcast sky.

    None of it matters now. It's not on you anymore.

    "Well, hell... you got a smoke?"

    Oh, when I'm gone / please remember me
    For my blue eyes, & the songs I'd sing
    & forget the bad / I did all that I could do
    If I could take it back, I would, in fact
    and give it all to you

    Jack Rogers, Warden, Tucker and 9 others like this.
  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    A really touching tribute to a well thought-out and well written character.

    A short but moving read.
  3. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    A sad fucking ending to this incident, its quite funny because I think Booker was right all along when he said we were all hypocritical monsters
  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Definitely hypocritical, that much is a certainty.
  5. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Everyone is a hypocrite. Jon will be missed. RIP.