Saturday, April 16, 2011

Isolation, Chapter 1

A couple of years ago, I wrote a little story. It will probably take five or six posts to include all of it. If you've already read it, I apologize. For everyone else, I hope it's worth your time.

The young man sat in the darkened room, the crispness in the air evident as all occupants of the small home--the man, his dog, and the cat who owned them both--huddled in front of the wood-burning fireplace, ghostly shadows from the fire danced on the four book-lined walls of the room. Even though the clock showed 10 am, darkness rivaling midnight engulfed the house. Such is winter life in Alaska above the Arctic Circle. Normally Josh would be at work, manning a weight station for trucks hauling fuel and supplies on Ice Road to the remote town of Barrow, Alaska, but not today. Today Josh called in sick and he never calls in sick.
The cat allowed the dog to lie beside him as the two rested together on the floor in front of the man, both content in the warmth of the flames. The room’s cold and dreary feeling was eclipsed only by Josh’s attitude as he sulked in his chair before the fire, a heavy wool blanket wrapped around his shoulders, a half-eaten bowl of oatmeal sat on a small table next to the worn and tattered chair, a chair purchased at an office supply store years before. The solitary figure remained, staring at the fire, fixed in a position where he had remained for several hours ever since a phone call--a call from a man Josh didn’t know and had never talked to before--interrupted his deep sleep. The man at the other end of the phone said he had just flown in from New York City and had a few questions for Josh. “Just a few questions—should only take about an hour is all.” Maybe it was because he was barely awake, or maybe he was tired of his solitary life, but for some reason Josh agreed to meet the man, but only if he’d give him a few hours before he came over; he just woke up, for Heaven’s sake. The man agreed, saying he had to make sure his rental car was available. He got Josh’s address and hung up. A drowsy and confused Josh stumbled out of bed, made some oatmeal for breakfast, called in sick, lit his fire and sat down. “How did they find me?” his breath visible as his question ventured into the cold air.

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