Saturday, December 30, 2006

western hospitality

The boy paused, still blowing into his gloved hands.
"Are you lost?"
The gloves dropped, and the boy looked up, his blue eyes heated with a sudden strange intensity. He gazed, searching, for a long moment.
Discomfort grew on the back of Joshua's neck like hot, prickly moss.
He ventured further hospitality.
"Do you need something?"
Joshua read the answer that leaped into the boy's eyes but never made it to his cracked lips.
Desperation.
He felt Ebenezer pushing against his leg again and heard the faint whisper of conscience begging him to open the door, bring the boy in, seat him by the fire.
He stiffened his legs and broke the gaze, pretending to hear something within the house.
"Hold on." He turned and pushed the door almost closed and bustled back to the pot on the stove which was, as chance would have it, almost boiling over.
He belabored the task of moving the pot to a hotpad on the counter and turning the stove off.
He walked reluctantly back to the door, ignoring Ebenezer who stood staring at the door.
The boy was halfway down to the road when he swung the door open again.
He quelled the burst of satisfaction that spread hot guilt all over him.
"Do you-" he began, but bit it off, unsure of what to say, or what he wanted to say.
The boy, not hearing or disregarding, bounded down the slope and hit the road in a dead run, disappearing quickly.
Joshua leaned against the doorjamb, watching the last place the Dallas Cowboys parka had flashed through the trees.
The longer he stood there with the door open, letting the warmth of the house rush out like vapor into the snow, watching for, hoping against, another glimpse of royal blue, the more satisfied he became that he'd done what he could.
At last, a chill shuddering over his shoulders, he stepped back and closed the door.
It was snowing again.

He picked up Copperfield, stroking the black head between the ears until a rumbling purr pulsed against the feline's ribcage.
Dumping him lightly at his water bowl, he retrieved a bowl and spoon from the cabinet, ignoring the irriation he felt with Ebenezer who lay in front of the fireplace, head resting on his paws, ears pricked and eyes trained on the door.

1 comment:

your secret admirer said...

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