Had left the lakehouse, the dock, the island on the horizon. Had gotten in his car. Had blared had music. Had put the top down. Had driven toward the Capital, pack of cigarettes on the passenger's seat and intended to keep him company on the way. Had intended to clear his head, but this came somewhere on Main. He pulled over, and the thought of not crashing his car was the last one he had that belonged to him. Music faded. He didn't manage to close his fingers around the pack of Reds.
Knew dying. Knew what people who were dying smelled like, looked like. Was a scent you never forgot. Was like nothing else in the world, the languishing dead. Wasn't like his ghosts. Had done this very thing once. Had sat by a bed, fingers gripping an old man's leathery fingers, more bone than meat now. Knobby fingers. Had listened to the death rattle. Had watched emaciation claim someone who had once been broad and strong. Had wished he could remember broad and strong, but dying had plastered itself over those memories.
Was this. Was seeing someone else. Was being someone else. But was the same feeling, the same sensation. The same fear.
But there was a difference. Never saw the old man in translucent peace. Never saw anyone in translucent peace. Watched this. Watched this and wished he knew that anyone he gave a damn about was resting peacefully. Didn't know that. Didn't know anything about what came beyond, not anything that wasn't just fucking shit.
It ended. Grabbed the pack of smokes and left the car behind. Walked. The pond was up ahead. Lit a smoke and sat.