Harmony in the Grove

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man trying to find happiness after the death of his wife and child.

Submitted: March 20, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 20, 2012




6:00 a.m.

The alarm clock buzzed its familiar tone alerting me that the day has started. My hand fumbles for the snooze button, proving how uneager I am to begin another work day. My name is Stephen Drake. I’m an LPN, that’s a “Licensed Practical Nurse”. I don’t hate my job; I just enjoy my time at home more so. I work in the emergency room at the local hospital.

6:05 a.m.

-click, 5 more minutes will be ok. It’s a fast paced job, and it pays well, but again, nothing beats staying home. Truth is, you don’t feel like going out much when you’ve lost everything. It happened 1 year, 9 months ago, back in North Carolina. My wife, April, and daughter, Savannah, died in a car accident.  They were coming home from school, when a pickup truck drifted into their lane.

I don’t know what led the young man into their lane; I don’t think he was drunk, probably texting or something. Maybe he just sneezed, and in the half a second it took to look back up, it was too late. All three died in the accident.

6:10 a.m.

-click.  It’s funny how little time it takes to change your life. After the ceremonies I went thought the typical mourning period. Lots of calls from friends and family, trying to give some kind of support through words of encouragement, but there’s really nothing to say in that situation. I even tried to become an alcoholic…but I couldn’t take the taste. Never been a drinker. Suicide wasn’t an option either; if you don’t have the guts to drink, then you certainly don’t have enough to blow your brains out.

6:15 a.m.

-click. I eventually found comfort in apathy. I sold our home, bought a small piece of land in the mountains of TN about 10 miles from the nearest town, put septic tank and a well for water in, and parked a camper. Welcome home. I secured my job at the hospital, and now spend my time submerging myself in any project I can find, further separating me with the outside world.

6:20 a.m.

-click. Guns, video games, internet, researching every scrap of seemingly useless information I can find. I started playing my violin again, something I haven’t done since high school. It took a few months, but now I can play the shit out of that thing. I never cursed before either, but apathy has to have its privileges. By far, the most satisfying thing to do is shooting. I think the fascination started when I was considering offing myself. I made the mistake trying the pistol out on a watermelon first. So instead of blowing out my brains, I vomited my stomach contents…over the sight of a watermelon turning inside out. Perfect.

6:25 a.m.

-click. Anyway, I’ve accumulated a small arsenal over the past year; target practicing with each weapon, watching YouTube on the proper technique and utilization of each one. Bows, Crossbows, Knives, Axes, and Guns, you name it, I’ve got it, and I know how to shoot it (or use it). But my favorite in an old muzzle loader I got from the gun shop in town. At first, it took about 5 minutes for me to load each shot, but I’ve got it down to an art now, and can get three rounds off in about a minute and a half.

I guess I could be called a hermit, living on my own little island of land, surrounded by a sea of pine and hardwood trees. But, then again, given my thin body type, pallor skin, glasses, and shaved head, people probably think of me more the serial killer type.

7:42 a.m.

Shit. Late. I roll out of bed, throw on my mismatching orange and blue scrubs, slide on my cowboy boots (the only shoe’s I’ll wear) and run out the door. I know I don’t look professional, but I doubt the man lying on the table whose heart stopped beating 3 minutes prior is going to care as long as I keep pushing his chest in and out trying to revive him. I wouldn’t care. Besides, I hate scrubs.

I jumped into my jeep wrangler and sped off to work. I know what you’re thinking, “guns, jeep, violin…mid-life crisis” and you’re probably exactly right. But it’s all I have left, so deal.

Work went as usual; patients come in with a broken arm, or cut deep enough to need a few stitches, nothing major. In this part of the state, you don’t get too many major cases, so the most excitement you get is when the “frequent fliers” come in to get their fix of morphine or oxycodone or whatever their preference deems, and they get angry when the doc sends em’ home.

I don’t judge. I figure I could have easily been in their shoes, I just chose a careless attitude as my drug, and I probably hit it more than they hit theirs.  

After my shift, I walk to my jeep, trying to ignore the malignant bullshit that I hear from my co-workers (most of which I’ve never even spoken to). This person hates that person; this person loves that person; and no one like the way that one smells. Again, malignant bullshit. Judgmental, hypocritical, vultures, and all of them are more interested in themselves than anyone else. I laugh as I think that goes for me too I guess.

I pull into my driveway, shed my disgusting clothes, shower, and break out my usual “fix”. The black powdered 50. Caliber muzzle loader, my violin case, and a thermos of coffee; I’m going primitive today. There is an uncontrollable amount of wild dogs and coyotes in this area and considering the danger they impose to the rural areas and farms, they are considered vermin, and you don’t need a license to hunt vermin.

I hike several hundred yards up into the woods, where I find a small area surrounded by fallen trees, and hunker down in the middle. It will make for good cover. I set my thermos and violin case down, and go ahead and load my muzzle loader. 120 grains of powder down the barrel lightly tapped with the ramrod to remove any air caught inside; followed by a heavy led ball, cushioned by a small oiled patch of cloth and pressed firmly down until it reaches its powder. I then pull the hammer back and place a cap over the nipple assembly (the cap containing the small charge that will ignite the powder).

I take my time doing this, there’s no hurry, and I’m savoring the art. The comfort of being able to put my mind and hands to something and forget the rest of my world for just a few short minutes.

After my gun is ready, I place it across 2 logs facing away from my hiding place (don’t want to end up like a watermelon y’know), and retrieve my violin from its case. I carefully rosin the bow, and pluck the four strings to ensure it’s in tune (I know it is, but again, I’m escaping). I gently draw the bow across the strings, casting the first light of sound through the woods. It echoes beautifully across the ridge and then back to my eardrum. Then, I start my song. Something up-beat and fast paced, I’m in a good mood obviously. Irish Washerwoman, the Irish fiddle song.

Once the song is finished, and I see that the surrounding woods has shown no sign of life yet, I replace the fiddle back in the case and sit for a moment, enjoying my coffee. Y’know, I don’t think Savannah had ever heard me play before. She was nine when she died, and I never played for her. Why did I ever put the instrument down? It has been one of the few things to bring me happiness the past year. I’ll never stop playing now.

A bird’s caw brings me back to reality; I don’t know how long I’ve been sitting here thinking, remembering, but my coffee’s cold, and it’s starting to get dark. But I’m not ready to go back in yet. My escape isn’t over, and I haven’t even fired one shot. So, I stand back up, and play a softer song to go along with the coming night. I only heard this song a few weeks ago, but I’ve been practicing it and it fits the hour. I plant my feet firmly and draw the tune as perfectly as I can, and it actually sounds pretty good, especially since this is the first time I’ve played it without the help of youtube. The song is call Hide and Seek by some lady called Imogen Heap; it’s some new song, I guess, but it does sound beautiful out here in the dimming light of the woods. Almost eerie.

A twig snaps and I open my eyes, but keep playing. 20 yards ahead, there’s a wild dog staring at me. He hasn’t figured out what I am yet, but like usual, the beautiful music has drawn him in. Isn’t that funny? How beauty attracts beauty? Maybe that’s why nature flees from humanity. Something so un-beautiful should be kept away from something beautiful. I guess me and the dog can relate on this: our desire to find peace in the harmony of the music and the woods.

BOOM, my own shot interrupts my thoughts. I’m no longer operating of my own conscience. Just alone in my mind with my thoughts, while my body acts and reacts with its environment, trying to cope. I’m just along for the ride.

As I approach the now dead dog, I realize that my body made a perfect shot. A gaping hole lies where the dogs’ heart should be. An instant kill; I’m very grateful for this, considering I had come to know the dog as I know myself in the half second it took to drop the violin in the case, raise the gun, and pull the trigger. I didn’t want to see myself suffer a slow death.

© Copyright 2020 josephhoffman340. All rights reserved.

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