During the funeral in his old hometown he didn’t give it a thought but when he needed a ride to the airport and couldn’t think who to ask he discovered he was in all the world alone in that particular way, drizzled on and rideless to any airport, clutching a damp prayer card. He hadn’t counted his losses during the ceremony but now they filed past in something like a funeral procession with their lights on and flying little flags. His parents had died in the natural course, younger than is called for, but not impolitely so. Two siblings and a host of indifferent friends had preceded him. Even the friends he cherished had passed without alarm. He hadn’t kept count until none were left. He said goodbye to the people he knew as one by one they got into their cars and pulled into the procession leaving the cemetery and when the last of them had gone and he still stood there in the gloom alone by an open grave he thought, At last. Now I can live. Thumb up, head high, chin to the wet wind, he hitched his first ride to the airport, or nearly. The driver took his overcoat and his wallet fat with traveler’s checks and left him coatless, damaged and broke on a roadside far from any place he knew. The sun went down into a hole in the horizon. He saw the prayer card clinging to his shoe and chuckled a humorless curse. Her car was battered, once-green and trembled to his touch as he opened the door. The cabin was an inferno that smelled of cheese. That’s a nasty cut, she said. It likes you, he told her and they both laughed. He thought, This is a woman I could marry.

Copyright © December 12, 2007 David Hodges