The Years Of Dusk

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Growing old doesn't mean giving up...

Submitted: September 22, 2008

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Submitted: September 22, 2008

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It was the ending of things, the finale. Some called them the Twilight Years. He hated that word, twilight. He preferred, if anything, dusk. It sounded dirtier, raunchier. It conjured the scents of body fluids. Twilight was sparkling and pretty. Young lovers whispering secrets. If offered up the optimism of a dawn.

Eighty. Eighty fucking years old. Twenty more years, and he would have been alive for a goddamn century. He remembered when he was only twenty. It had been a grand age. He had been twenty when he made his discovery. That brilliant, shinning second when he knew. And how many people can remember (especially at his age) the moment when the purpose in their feeble lives are shone clear.

Henry puttered around his house. Feet shuffled in mangy, faded slippers across stained linoleum. The pain in his lower back was running a close tie with the ache in his hands and wrists. He paused in front of the kitchen sink, considering the act of retrieving a plastic cup one of the cats had knocked to the floor. Hiking up his pants over his rotund middle, he lowered himself to the ground. Now on his hands and knees, he inspected a small puddle of dried gravy that had congealed beneath the table. He grimaced. Down didn't present the same problems that up did. With the tacky orange cup in one hand, Henry struggled to regain his footing.

Now returned to a prone position, he was breathing hard. Damn cats. He tossed it over into the sink, already filled with filth encrusted dishes. A haze of gnats had formed over them to accompany the stench. The insects gorging themselves on mold, some of it now of the grey, furry variety. He watched as the cup teeter on the edge of a chipped white plate, its lack of balance ready to drop it either into the clogged black water, or back to the floor again. Luck sided with Henry, and it splashed into the sink, sloshing water onto the counter. He turned from the mess unconcerned. It would dry.

His chair called him. An ancient lazy boy, with torn material at the arm rests. Small tears had began where the woven cloth had met the wood, and picking at it for thirty years had essentially stripped them bare. Henry lowered himself onto the broken springs. They had collapsed under his constant presence, and now hugged his form perfectly. He sat back waiting for the spasm in his spine to pass. He studied the treasures on his end table as the small convulsions attacked his back muscles.

He liked to look at them. It made him feel young again. Made him feel alive. He used to have them hidden away, locked in an old metal safe. Eventually, he realized that no one would even think anything strange if they were noticed. An old man's collection of nick-nacks. He also worried, in his aging state, that he would forget the combination. Twenty three small clear plastic film canisters were meticulously arranged on the table top, each containing a small object, each object different.

A locket, a key, a plastic fingernail, a match, a tiny container of lip gloss, a broken lenses to a pair of sunglasses, a cigarette butt, a torn photograph. Twenty three items, things that looked ready to be thrown away, keepsakes of an old man. Anymore, Henry could display them proudly, just the addled prerogative of the elderly. The neighbor boy who cut his lawn had seen them and just rolled his eyes. The man who delivered his groceries couldn't care less. The visiting nurse he used to have thought they were prescious. Christ, when she said that, Henry had to use every ounce of control not to stab her in the throat with her blue ball-point pen.

They were more than his treasures. They were his trophies. Each one gained after a victory. Each one a reminder of his youth, when he did the work he had been born for. The last one was won over a decade ago, after he had considered himself retired. Stupid born-again bitch had wanted to preach the word to him. He had returned from the kitchen, after an offer of tea, crept up behind her and strangled her with an electrical cord. He had still been strong enough then for such activities. A small golden cross, worn as a lapel pin, sat in one of the canisters.

A knock came from his door. Henry grappled his way out of his chair. He paced wobbly over to answer it, and grimaced when he looked through the inset window. An older man stood there fiddling with the top of his cane. Dominic was a spry seventy four with a hint of senility. They had worked together at the hardware store for years. He opened the door and grunted a hello.

\"Well there Henry, how's the back today?\"

Henry grunted again in response.

\"Still the same, eh? A pity, growing old is. A real shame. Well, if your feeling up to it, there selling their day old pastries down at Lugo's for half off now. Was going to go down and get me a bear claw.\"

Henry grunted a third time and trudged over to the room divider to grab his wallet. A creme stick and some coffee did sound good. Maybe if he was feeling up to it, when he got back, he'd slit Dominic's throat with steak knife. There was still room on his end table for another canister.


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