Solstice Truce

CHAPTER 6 – III

Somewhere, two anonymous men:

He was cowering in the corner of the room, ears still ringing from the gun fight that had just filled the air. The remains of the light fixture were swinging back and forth. With the ratatat silenced, tinnitus lingered. Hands shaking; hyperventilating. Why was he here? What did he care? Where was his gun? Beams of grayish light shown through the bullet holes in the wall. After sitting there for what seemed like an hour he peeked through one. Bodies covered the street like toys on the floor of a child’s bedroom. Uniforms of gray and brown (and red).

He had never left his perch. On top of the roof, exposed to the cold winter air, to God. No movement for what felt like an hour. Steadfastly focused on his duty. Perhaps because to do anything but one’s duty meant to flee. He was not a fast runner, nor a savvy player of hide-and-go-seek. Then…there…was it?…yes…a hole in the building across the street went dark. Someone was in there. He aimed his rifle, steadied, inhaled, exhaled, pulled the trigger. Out of ammo.

He saw the coast was clear. Gingerly turning the doorknob, opening up to a world of possibilities. Nothing but the creek of the swinging hinges. Stepping into the street, afraid to look for fear that he might see something.

He raced down the stairs, taking them three at a time. Hitting the landing he stopped. Steadied himself. Having discarded his ammo-less rifle, he unsheathed his knife. Looking out the glassless window, his opponent was empty handed. Forward. He burst through the door.

He saw his eyes…He saw his eyes…He saw his hands…He saw his hands…He paused…He paused…He sweated, shook, eased, reconciled…He gasped, clinched, released, dropped his knife…He stared…He stepped…He stepped…He bent down and grabbed child’s ball laying there in the street…He bent down and grabbed a rifle from the hands of a corpse of either gray or brown uniform, holding it up…He stopped, fearful again…He turned the gun around, hands around the barrel, lifting it at a right angle, elbow up, feet squared…He smiled, brought the ball to his nose, then down (slowly) to his chest, he shook off his imaginary catcher a couple times, and then above his head went the ball concealed in his other hand, winding and dealing, he let go of the ball. There was no need for an umpire.

He was wearing gray…He was wearing brown. It was the winter solstice. Neither would live to the new year, but right now they were alive.

Persistent in continuation
Today like the last
A truce for the day
Living not for the past

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