By L. Vancil
"The world is a shit hole." He said.
"No it's not," I replied.
"It is too. It's a dirty, sooty, dark, ash covered waste! We are breathing the ashes of Hoboken and living by scavenging. I haven't had a bath or a clean shirt in six months. You haven't either!"
I waited for a moment to reply.
"I don't see it that way." I said.
"You don't see anything," he laughed ruefully.
"Oh, but I do. I can feel the sun on my face. It's warmer and I smell the spring."
"That's the smell of the mold growing in the grocery store."
"No, It's the spring. And in a few months it will be the summer. Yeah, so Hoboken is a big comet crater." I tapped the side of my head. "Hoboken is up here. The good mornings, the smell of the Burger King on the corner. The rain in the spring. I can see that grassy tree lined trail in the park."
"Oh, please. I have to see what is. You can't. How can you be so damn optimistic in the dark?"
"It's not dark."
"What? I know you can't see. The heat from the flash burned your eyes. The retinas are dead."
"So? What? You have psychic powers?"
"Damn it! Will you be straight with me?"
"I am being straight. That morning I saw it. It came out of the south high. It drew a line of pure white light down to Hoboken. There was a flash. I can still see the blast. It rose out of the ground like the sun was rising out of the city. It was beautiful."
"Beautiful? Are you nuts? The worst disaster in Man's history! Why do I bother? Schlepping your sorry ass all over the dirty burned out remains of New Jersey. Shit!" He kicked a can. I heard it bounce away, a metallic counterpoint to his steady stream of curses.
"Yeah. Beautiful. " I said when he had run down again. "It was every sunrise in history. I saw God's face."
"God's face?" he giggled. "GOD'S FACE? I get to worry about where the next meal ..." His laughter echoed from the ruins around us. Suddenly he stopped. "Why did I ever help you? The crowd didn't care that you were blind. Hell, a lot of them were half blind with panic. There you were standing in the middle of that madness with a bloody rag across your eyes. The crowd ran every where. Every time they bumped you, you changed direction."
"What were you looking for?"
"It doesn't matter."
"I guess not. But why did I bother with you? Why did I saddle myself with your sorry carcass?" His voice trembled with emotion.
"Because I remember." I said starting the story again.
"Yeah, you remember."
"I remember the smell of the spring air. The sound of the morning news paper hitting the steps."
"Dad..." his tears rattled in his throat..