Tim Williams looked out his library window and stared at his vehicle under the open carport. His mind is aflutter with unfinished thoughts. Facing east, he waits for the sun to rise. “It’s Saturday. I may get my allotted two hours with her today.” Starry Wilkinson, a woman of exquisite strength and beauty, is the woman referenced by his thought. Her grayish mane, bluish-grey eyes, and natural beauty are second place to her wit, intelligence, and kindness. To boot, Starry is a journalist who worked as an anchor at the local television station. She spent her weekends volunteering at the hospital in the children’s wing. Tim is madly in love with Starry. “Can you believe it’s been eight years since I began pursuing this woman? That must be some kind of record!” As with all things, the beginning started off hot and heavy. It took Tim two weeks to pop the question. Yes, Tim is slow. Still, after one failed relationship after another, Tim knew he had met the woman of his dreams. His eagerness coupled with her suspicious nature had led to a more restrained approach to their friendship. “Days have turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years and I am still holding on. Hope springs eternal. Is this friendship/relationship going to be as futile as the war I fought in? Will there be a payout at the end?” Tim mentally shrugs his shoulders and waters his cactus on the windowsill. “I guess we will find out.”
A shadow crossed the window, and Tim looked up. A red hawk, perched precariously upon his carport roof, gazed into the window. Tim watched the hawk. Annoyed by his appearance in the window or Tim’s sudden movement, the hawk flew off. “I don’t blame him. What I see in the mirror frightens me too.” Tim’s free hand wiped at his bald head and he looked at his watch. “Crap. I need to get started cleaning. I want Starry to enjoy her visit with me tonight. She will like what I’ve done with the library.”
Tim began in the kitchen. He tossed empty Gatorade containers into the 42-gallon trash bag. “It has taken me time to make peace with whom I was during war, but Starry never doubted me. She is a godsend. Still, after eight years and minimum change in my status, I am growing tired.” Frustration settled into Tim’s mind. “What am I doing? Am I wasting my time? What if there is no future where we end up together?”
Time has passed with the quickness of molasses dripped from an overturned quart jar. Instead of drawing closer, Starry and Tim saw less of each other. The void in Tim’s heart grew with each day without her. Starry became a social butterfly. Blessed to live in a small town, she became the director for every social event within the city limits. Slowly, the chasm between the two seemed insurmountable to Tim. “From sunup to sundown, Starry is busy. I would call, but I’m sure she is working, and I don’t want to be a bother.” Instead, Tim tried to find other things to do to occupy his time. Finally, he hit upon an idea while he stacked lumber in his shop. “We could do a day trip today. I could make a picnic basket, we could ride to the lake and watch the waves come in. It’s not expensive and a bit redneck-ish but it’d be fun.” Tim walked back into the house and packed a basket. Spiral ham, tomatoes, a loaf of homemade bread, mayo, mustard and a few other ingredients filled the basket. When he completed the preparations for lunch, he took the basket and a clean blanket out to his truck. He picked up his phone and punched in Starry’s number.
“Hey,” Tim said. A goofy grin crossed his face. “What are you doing?”
“Sleeping. Do you need something?”
“No, I stacked lumber in my shop and thought I’d see if you felt up to a day trip to Lake Homer. I made a basket and packed everything in my truck. All that’s missing is you.”
“We can,” Starry answered grumpily. The grin faded from his face.
“No, it’s okay. Get some rest.”
“Tim, wait. I don’t want you to be mad. We can go, I worked late last night and have to go back tonight. Let me get dressed.”
“Starry, it’s okay. I knew you had to work. It’s no big thing, okay? Get some rest. We can do it some other time.”
“Are you sure? Please don’t be mad at me.”
“I’m not. Sweet dreams.” He quietly punched the red button and tossed the phone on his workbench. “I guess I will unload the truck.” Tim took the basket in hand and walked into his cabin. He placed the food into the fridge and walked back to the truck.
Tim took out the revolver in the center console and checked to make sure he had loaded it. He closed the door and leaned against the porch. “This loneliness is too much. War took so much from me. Some of my friends never returned home, the ones who returned came back with serious issues. I am alone. It’s just me and the darkness. He flipped the gun around and stared into the barrel. The black frame reminded him of the loneliness in his heart and a tear rolled down his cheek. “There is nothing left for me here. I don’t want to be alone anymore.”
The revolver is cold against his temple. He thinks of his friends lost in combat action, of the innocents who died because of the war. He closed his eyes. Tim’s loneliness dissipated in the hammer’s sound hitting the firing pin and the smell of burned gunpowder.