With the sins of his past haunting him James rode his motorcycle back into town after ten years spent maturing.
“It’s amazing how little the town has changed,” he muttered as he came to a stop at the edge of town.
He couldn’t say the same for himself. Leaving town in a hurry with a rapidly fading young spirit. Now, returning much more mature, and paying for the sins of his past. James is now here to possibly release those sins, and move on with his life.
“I hope I can move on with my life,” he thought.
When it came to looks he was the top star in town, attracting many of the opposite sex. Now, he was withered and worn, many thinking he was ten years older than he was. Growing a beard didn't help for a good portion of it is gray, taking away the light, brown hair he once had. He was rapidly balding, losing what once brought girls flocking to him as he displayed his mane of hair. You look into his eyes and you would think he just came back from the battlefield. A stare of regret. A stare of pain. A Stare of one who had lost his innocence long ago, causing heartache to others. Friends and especially family were affected by his actions that were to last a lifetime.
“Will they forgive me?” he wondered as he got off his bike.
James looked around, seeing a few people walking around. He recognized a few of them but with his transformation many of them gave him a passing glance, and moved on.
“It’s best that way,” he muttered. “I don’t need anyone to come my way yet.”
He stood there for a couple of minutes as he looked at each of the buildings where he had good and bad memories. Some were now vacant or a different business from ten years ago.
“The store with the Slurpees is still around,” he said with a smirk that quickly turned into a frown.
It was the store he frequented the most with his younger brother back in the day. His brother who is now gone. A brother who is lost due to his careless act.
“I don’t want you out there with him,” warned his father.
“You shouldn’t be out there the way you are,” his mother said. “Hunting and drinking don’t mix.”
James was on top of the world. Nothing could happen to him. His parents went to church to worship God, but he pondered if he wasn’t a god. Everyone followed him, but years later he wondered if he followed them.
“Such ignorant ways I once lived,” he thought.
He started walking down the sidewalk, coming near the store he once frequented. There was a bench next to the entrance that he sat down on. Thoughts of going inside were quickly dismissed for it conjured up painful memories. But, it didn't matter for the memories erupted as he sat there.
“Can I come with you this time?” Luke asked.
James looked at his brother, seeing the excited look on his face. A face was so different than his own. Instead of the chiseled look like you would see on a superhero, Luke had large, round cheeks, a large nose, and almost a non-existent chin.
“How many times did I have to protect him?” James thought throughout the years.
If only someone could have protected Luke against him on that fateful day.
“I’m not sure mom and dad would want you to come with me?” James said to Luke.
“They aren’t around. They won’t know and we won’t say anything when we come back. Please take me,” Luke pleaded. “I need to practice shooting.”
James opened his mouth to tell him 'no', but something stopped him. James thought years later it was the devil on his shoulder. Or maybe it was because he already had a couple of beers in him as he was starting to feel relaxed. More easy-going. Easier to be tempted to do foolish things.
“Hurry up and get yourself ready,” he told Luke with his famous smirk. “I’m taking my motorcycle so you will have to do your best to stay up with me.”
“Awesome!” Luke cried out with excitement and rushed into his room.
Soon, they were on their way, both with their rifles strapped to their backs.
James kept his speed down, but there were moments he just wanted to fly. He should’ve flown far, far away, leaving Luke his life.
They eventually reached the hunting ground and stashed their bikes under some bushes.
“One last thing before we move out,” said James, pulling out a small bottle. He opened it and chugged down the hard liquor. The evil liquor that would affect him more than he thought.
“Should you be drinking before you go out hunting,” Luke asked him.
“I do it all the time,” James replied. “Let’s go.”
They headed out and went deep into the woods. James stayed in front, leading the way. As time ticked by he started to stumble over many things in their path. First, it was a rock, then a stick, another rock.
“Doing okay?” asked Luke.
“Don’t bother me,” said James angrily as the world started to become wobbly. “In fact, you get in front since this is your first hunt. You can make the first kill.”
The concern Luke was experiencing quickly dissipated as he jumped in front.
They moved on, James taking his time so he wouldn’t fall on his face.
“I think I see a deer up ahead,” said Luke, and started running.
“Don’t run, you idiot!” James called out. “You will scare it!”
He didn’t even think that the sound of his voice probably scared off any animals nearby as he started running. He didn’t get far when he tripped and went down.
“Damn,” James said as he started to pick himself up. “I thought I had the safety on.”
He stood up, and was about to rush on, but saw that Luke had stopped. James would never forget as his brother turned around. The shocked look on his face as it looked like a red flower was blooming from his shirt in his abdomen area. Next moment he crumpled to the ground. James stood there in shock for what seemed like an eternity.
No!” he screamed out, thinking the earth shook by the sound of his voice.
All alcohol drained away from his senses as he rushed over to his brother.
“No, no, no,” he cried out as he picked up his brother. “I’ll get you to the hospital.”
His brother looked at him, pain in his face, pain in his eyes. Luke’s mouth opened, but he said nothing.
“My God,” thought James. “Save him. Save him.”
James carried him out of the woods, laid him down as he uncovered his bike, and held onto Luke as best as he could as he rushed to the hospital. He didn’t know that his brother passed on as he rode. If so, he would have ridden on forever, screaming at the top of his lungs as his heart burst to take him to hell where he belonged.
James came back to the present, wiping the moisture from his eyes.
There was little said after the incident. Everyone knew it was an accident, but the stares. The stares that looked like condemnation. Like pointing fingers at the one who is now a murderer.
“I have to leave this palace,” he thought.
So he did. For ten years he fled, but his guilt followed him so nothing changed. Many times he nearly died due to his carelessness or striving to end it, but stopped at the last second.
“Now, I’m back,” he said, standing up from the bench. “This is my last hope.”
James went back to his motorcycle, and soon on the road to the destination that would be life-changing.
“Time to see the family,” he thought.
Down the rural roads until he came to the large, white house on the right. Seeing the station wagon and the red, Chevy truck, in the driveway told him his folks' were home. He was eternally grateful they were still at home.
James pulled into the driveway and turned the motorcycle off. He sat there for a bit, looking at the house. He took a deep breath and let it out.
“Probably know I’m here.”
The question is what they will do. Fleeing and practically non-existent probably deserves an irate response, and to get the hell out of town.
“I couldn't blame them.”
James got off the motorcycle and started walking toward the front door. Each step felt like a weight on each leg. Part of me wanted to run around and flee.
“If I flee, my life is over,” he thought.
He went up each step until he was on the porch. James thought of ringing the doorbell, but instead decided he would just walk in and get it over with. He opened the screen door and turned the doorknob. He pushed the door open and entered the house ten years late. James took two steps and stopped, for a few feet away stood his parents. Neither one had any kind of expression on their faces. Their hair was white for the most part, and a few more wrinkles, but still the same for the most part.
“Uh...hello,” he said.
The two stood like statues for a moment longer, then they rushed over and hugged their son.
“Welcome home,” his father said.
“We have missed you,” his mother said.
The tears flowed as they reunited.
James was so glad to have come home. So much weight was lifted from his body. Lifted from his heart. Lifted from his soul.
Months later, James had transformed into a better man. His physical appearance changed for the better as the guilt was chipped away. It helped that not only his family welcomed him back but the town.
There will always be a scar, but he must move on. Life is an obstacle course and we must strive to finish it for too many give up way too soon.