Ron Gibson Jr.
after The Moondoggies' "Undertaker"
I. Old Worlds
Warner was still discovering new ways to miss Vera when she died on a Tuesday. He realized missing her would be a full-time occupation, so he closed the door to his clock shop, after forty-five years of business, taking the time to stop each clock by hand, before placing a sign in the storefront that read "In Need of Repair."
All over town signs went up.
The park bench overlooking Lake Swanson read "Out of Order." The back booth at 'Mary's Cafe' read "Game Called Due To Darkness." The elm tree with Warner and Vera's names carved into the bark read "Excuse Our Dust, Repair We Must."
On the road out of town, next to the "Welcome to Meadowdale," a sign read, "Danger Ahead — Icy Roads."
II. All Vacancy
Warner went looking for a place to hide, but found a bottle was a poor choice. Booze darkened his thoughts, made him blurry, but did not make him invisible.
So he drove on.
Neon signs shouted, 'No Vacancy.'
But Warner knew they whispered, 'All Vacancy.'
So he drove on.
With no one to confide, Warner talked to the road.
The road sang, the road offered direction, but the road didn't listen.
Regardless, Warner emptied his heart on its pavement, until his words ran dry.
So he pulled over.
So he walked away —- an undefeated loneliness in one hand.
So he walked on —- a losing thumb stuck out to worried looks in a worried land in the other.
III. Graves Hollow
Outside Graves Hollow, a man in black waited in a toll booth. When Warner asked how much, the man pointed to his chest. Without fear, Warner reached in, paid with his heart and entered.
Graves Hollow was an old mining town. An echo inside a black hole where a heart once was. Its vacant visitors laid their souls down and became residents.
Afterward, new residents paraded down Main Street, thoughts of those left behind reaching out, while longtime residents sang their goodbyes.
Then one day settled into another and the next. Those who feared kept a sharp lookout for the man in black in town. They worried their dreams might eclipse, and the way home might change, might still, still as ever, in the black hole of Graves Hollow, wandering down old days, old ways, still forever.
But others, like Warner, would do whatever it takes to set their heart free. They awoke each day to head down into the old mine, without words, to face the darkness, to face the foolish things they had done, that they had said, over and over, to leave behind the past, to resurrect their soul through toil, to do whatever it takes to leave Graves Hollow whole.
Ron Gibson, Jr.
has previously appeared in Stockholm Review of Literature, Cheap Pop, New South Journal, Jellyfish Review, Whiskeypaper, The Bohemyth, Easy Street, Noble / Gas Quarterly, Harpoon Review, Spelk Fiction, Entropy Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, etc... @sirabsurd