Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Last Outpost

Spoilers! This post is a metaphor, for what even I am not exactly sure, but nevertheless a metaphor it remains. Any resemblance to any creativity is purely by accident, and will probably not happen again. Enjoy it if you can, ignore it if you want, but read it anyways.

This was it, the last outpost on a long, dry, dusty road. A road that had led me to this spot as sure as if it had been preordained in some holy book that your basic crackpot street theologian hawked on street corners for a dime a copy.  A road that while long, was not particularly arduous. It wasn't the straightest of roads, but it was by far the quickest one that I was able to find to this, the last outpost.

The weathered sign that actually hung outside the ram shackled dwelling read something else. Something that looked like "red" something or another, but age, neglect, and an overwhelming disinterest on my part to actually read the whole sign contributed to me never fully knowing the actual name of the establishment. Not that the name mattered, not that the establishment mattered that much. The location was the important bit, and like in all real estate it was location, location, location that mattered. This tiny outpost on the frontier of nowhere was going to be my last stop for a while. The path beyond this way station led directly into the unknown, uncharted territory, a place that I'd never been, never wanted to be, and was unsure if I'd be coming back from.  It was a path that I had mostly chosen for myself, but with a small of amount on none too gentle help.

Chosen freely or not, it was my path, the path that I was to take step by step to whatever bitter, sweet, or bittersweet end there was. And this shit hole, this last outpost was going to be my last brush with my fellow humans for the foreseeable future. Most places that are on desert tracks usually have a sign warning travelers about how many miles to the next water, this place boasted no such landmark, and that was one of the growing number of bad signs about the place, that made me want to turn around and retrace my path back the way I had came.  However, that option was not really open to me, and also not actually as enticing as one one think, so it appeared that this path to nowhere was the one for me.

Opening the door to the place did not brighten my outlook over much. The door creaked, and protested loudly, like a fishwife that believed you to underbidding her for her wares. It was as dark as a lawyer's heart in the place, and about as gloomy as talking to a Cubs fan about their world series chances. Not a place that welcomed an over long (i.e. more than 10 minuets) stay. However, it was the last outpost, and provisions, such as they were, had to be obtained somewhere. 

Of course, therein lay an entirely different problem. Provisions aren't free and I had arrived at this last outpost with at least two things broken, my heart which was part of the reason I was on this path, and my purse, which was part of the reason I was staying on this path.  The meager contents of my purse where all I had to work with, and I figured that the amount of provisions didn't overly matter too awful much all things considered.  I stepped into the dark, dank room and tested out my best inquiring "hello" with more than a little trepidation. One never knows what kind of monsters you are going to find in these types of places. 

Luckily for me, in theory at least, the 'monster' that answered my call was a wizened old man that closer inspection determined had had merely a passing acquaintance with modern dentistry. He had only a few teeth left, and none of them were adjacent to each other, and the less said of his breathe the better. How could one person actually eat that much garlic?  Well there are a lot of things we don't get to pick in this world, parents, place of birth, our noses in public, and sometimes we don't get to pick our trading 'partners' either.  He didn't look like much, but as it turned out he was one tough bird to barter with, and I figure I got robbed, but at this point of my journey I wasn't overly worried about exchange rates. I got most of what I needed, which wasn't much, and decided to stay for one more drink before I waltzed out into the unknown.

One drink turned to a few drinks, and eventually, as a few drinks will do, lead me to thinking. Thinking of all the mis-steps that had led me to my current location. This last outpost on the far end of nowhere that was, in many respects, my own "Last Chance Saloon".  It's not that I rushed to this place, and I had hopes that it wasn't what it really was right up until the last few moments before I encountered it.  It was the end of a long line for me, and I guess you could say that I was slightly fortunate to realize that. It was not an overly happy realization to suss out, but it was one that I figured out eventually.  Of course, like most of these type of things that realization came too late to do me any real good.  Realization and knowledge are wonderful, wonderful things, but when they are coupled with a certain sense of inevitability, the bloom comes off the rose a bit.

And that was the situation that I found myself currently in, a place that I had led myself with knowledge of forethought, and a place that I didn't really want to be. A place out on the frayed edges of society, and of the world, and a place that I probably deserved.  However, deserved or not, the sting of finding myself here still hurt, and hurt quite a bit more than I was going to allow myself to let on.  Perhaps my washing up onto this desolate shoreline like yesterdays flotsam wouldn't have been quite as painful if I hadn't told a certain someone, of some importance, that our arrangement was my own last attempt to form any sort of lasting partnership.

They didn't believe me and our joint stock company, as it were, quickly went bankrupt, both morally, physically, and financially.  Like most bankruptcies, there was plenty of recriminations and plenty of blame to go around. Fault was all over the place, and you could have as much or as little of it as you pleased. It didn't change the ending one little bit, and made exactly no difference to direction of my path.  They, whoever they are, say that the longest journey starts but with one step, and maybe those unnamed bastards are right, but I say, and I say this from cruel experience, that the longest journey also ends with one step.  As I walked out of the last outpost on my trail, I realized that the last step was a whole lot closer to me than the first step, and that somehow made all the difference. 

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