(Love in the Rebirth of Hope)Spate Groove said, “Fabulous, absolutely fabulous!” The countryside was littered with the castoffs of a thousand, maybe hundreds of thousands, deserters. They had all left in a rush, a gosh darn rush Spate thought.
Spate walked into the background, the remnants of what they had left behind. Dusty cars and old plastic shopping bags drifted and lay unattended by their former owners. They had all left when the plague had blossomed. At first a few died then they started dropping like….like what he thought, like water balloons. Plop and splash in leaking crimson buckets, they fell apart at the seams bleeding from the eyes and ears and finally from their pours. Squish, splat and into the dirt, plop against the concrete walks and streets, eventually they all fell. The news had said, “Temporary……a temporary problem with the Scarlet Pox.” Most believed they could outrun the plague, some died in their cars, some died miles away from home, mostly they all just died and bad, as bad as it gets.
Spate went into the drug store on a whim. Maybe ther’ll be something cool he thought with an amazing thirst. The shelves were nearly empty and there were splashes of red on the counter where someone had sneezed. He went to the dairy section, it was small but a cause for a grin, the back up generators were still functioning. He grabbed a bottle of OJ from the shelf and guzzled it down in two gulps.
Spate wiped his mouth and went to the rear of the store where the Vitamins and athletes foot powder were.
Pausing, he surveyed a horror in tune with the desolation of the country. He was splayed hands outward feet tied together with lengths of variegated yarn, blue and brown, someone had bound his hands to the top edge of the shelf and he hung there crucified by unknown shadows. Spate sidestepped his feet, askew and angled to the edge of the isle.
The day wore on and the sun shone through the plate glass at the front of the store; mottled sunshine and the remnants of a coke, Spate sat there at the front of the store leaning against the counter sun illuminating his tired face with the silhouette of a few flies and an empty cloudless horizon.
Spate marked the passing seconds and minutes by the shadow of the sun against the tiled floor. By his best estimate it was four or five in the afternoon.
Standing he stretched and yawned, the jewelry counter held a revolving display of watches and crucifixes. He went over to the Plexiglas display and knocked it to the floor. It bounced without breaking; staring down at the case he noticed a tiny rainbow of light shining through the thick plastic. Grabbing the case again he slammed it down into the floor with a great heave and a yell, “YYYYAAAAAAAAAA!” The plastic cracked and he stomped on it a few times breaking it open and scattering the watches across the floor. Reaching into the shattered plastic he grabbed a silver Timex; it had a simple elastic band and was waterproof. The watch read four-thirty-eight. Slipping it on his wrist he went to the front of the store and looked out the double glass doors.
A stray newspaper flittered in pieces across the street. There were a few cars lining the edge of the two lane blacktop. The closest one was a gray Camry; its hood was up and there were the bodies of a man and a woman slumped over in the front seat. There was a portable cloths rod in the backseat, cloths, suits and dresses even a few t-shirts hung on plastic hangers from the rod.
Spate went to the Camry and opened the rear passenger door. A whoosh of hot air rushed out as the reek of decay overwhelmed him. The couple were glued to the seats by leaking pools of congealed blood and strangely enough the flies that swarmed from the car were more interested in the spilled milkshakes that had dried across the dash than the couple.
Spate closed the door as quick as he had opened it. He had been thinking about a change of cloths. There must be a clothing store around here somewhere he thought as he looked up the empty street.
Spate made his way further into town. He had come from the southern side of End house Street from the countryside. He had passed a few houses and a gas station and there hadn’t been any signs of life, not even a stray cat or dog. The idea that there might be other survivors was the notion he held on to as the hours wore on, there must be others he had thought, instead he had been greeted by the ghost of a once thriving city……empty streets and the crimson splashed bodies of those who had died in the plague.
Spate moved further down the street until he found a clothing store. Bay worth Tuxedos, he climbed inside through a smashed plate glass window. Inside there were mannequins dressed for weddings, parties and ceremonies that would never be. The store was dark in shadowy echos of what had been, what was. Spate grabbed a ruffled shirt and a gray jacket. Stripping off his t-shirt he put the cloths on. The ruffles followed the button-line of the shirt and the jacket was a French cut tailored for someone much larger than him. He stood there for a moment, silent conscious realization, he knew he was alone. He ran his fingers through his hair and sighed; he’d have to find a place to sleep before long, he was famished and dog-tired.
Spate looked North toward the center of the city and for an instant, just the briefest of moments he caught the light and silhouette of a figure moving along the West side of the street. He walked then ran toward the woman making her way up the sidewalk.
The sun shone an orange twilight cloak across the cityscape. A gauzy dream in vacant storefronts and abandoned cars. The sounds of both laughter and joyful tears filled the empty spaces around them. They met, running to each other arms outstretched in greeting.
Embracing they knew the promise of a new beginning, they would make it…together. They were survivors and they had finally found each other.
“Thank God!” Spate said as he hugged her. She wiped the tears away from her eyes hesitantly with the back of her palm.
“I thought everyone was dead!” she said in half gasping sobs.
“So did I!” he replied smiling widely. She wore a tan skirt and a pleated top with a name tag attached to it. She was a waitress, or had been and her name was Elaina.
“I’ve been staying over there!” she pointed to a squat brick building with the words “JAYKEMP LIVERY” it looked to be a hotel and a restaurant. They walked hand in hand to the hotel.
Ultimately they would have children and the city would hold them close to what had been with the promise of what would be again, someday through love, laughter and moments given them both as the mother and father of a new generation, a new world in revolution.
Through all the years they lived and raised eight children and thirty-seven grandchildren they never met another soul on earth, indeed they had been the only survivors of the plague.