27 November 2010

Leaving House, Looking for Home

Jack Marlowe left it all behind, in his forty-ninth year.  It was a train that did it.  Jack was sitting at the dining table, staring down at the solitary plate, when he heard the train horn blow from across the river valley.  That wasn't the sound he wanted to hear on the 26th of November. 

A tear tracked down his right cheek as he picked up the lone wine glass and hurled it straight into the antique mirror on the wall across from his seat.  The resulting crash of shattering glass affected him not at all.  He calmly brushed a few errant crumbs of glass off of his sleeves, careful not to drag any into the skin of his fingers.

The cat sat mute, wide-eyed, scrunched under the couch.  Its eyes darted back and forth while a terrified mewl escaped from its mouth.  Jack acted as if he had not heard.

He stood, flipped the table over on its side, and marched upstairs.  The cat took off for the safety of the kitchen, a fuzzy streak of light beelining for the pet door into the mudroom.  There was a loud series of slams and thuds upstairs and then an abrupt quiet.  Softly, almost delicately, Jack padded down the stairs.  In his hand was a small suitcase, battered black plastic, and crammed with as many clothes as Jack could grab in five minutes.  He set the case down.

Walking into the kitchen, he grabbed two bottles of water from the refrigerator, leaving the door open.  He reached over to the stove and slammed open the door.  He rapidly turned on all the burners, skipping past the tickticktick of the automatic igniters.  The scent of rotten eggs suffused the room.  Jack spun around on his heels,  raced back to the living room and picked up the case.  He ran out the front door, not bothering to see if the door shut.

Lights flickered, the alarm yelped.  Jack slid into his car to push the key into the ignition before he had the door closed.  He saw himself in the mirror, briefly, and found to his surprise he didn't look panicked or upset.  Mostly tired.  The eyes of resignation and resolve.  The eyes of change long overdue, wide with recognition.  Starting the car, he raced the engine and took off leaving only a screech of tires in front of the house.

Three miles and five minutes later, Jack heard a distant thud almost like thunder.  He thought he felt a wave of pressure through his chest.  Looking in the rear view he could spy short black cloud forming, somewhere back there in the vicinity of his former home.  Flicking his eyes downward to check his speed, Jack decided he wasn't moving fast enough.  He pushed the accelerator down hard.

Behind him, sirens began to wail, but he knew they weren't coming for him.  He sped off into the evening.  Up ahead, the train was coming to the intersection, horn blaring.  Jack ignored the sound, foot on the pedal and dreaming his dreams of home.


  1. I've never wanted to burn down a house, but I know what it feels like to yearn for the road....

  2. That was beautifully written, you need to finish one of these stories up into a full chapter, you have a gift for painting a picture.

    I have to know though, did the cat get out in time?

  3. Good one, Gumbo. A lot of story in a short space.

  4. Wow, my own biographer. Awesome.


    I can't tell you how perfectly you've captured the way I've felt of late. And yet, I haven't taken action due to the threads of Love that hold me in place. Nice, nice writing.

  5. Well done, Irish!

    Just wondering why he didn't just blow himself up in the house. Or did he just want to go by train?


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...