The cold winds blew past, bringing with it a ghostly breeze that blew the blades of the endless armies of grass that lined up before a large farm with grazing cattle and horses.
On the porch of the small white house was an old man with long white hair and a cup of tea in hand. The wind blew past again and the man smiled as his eyes gazed upon the rising Sun, calm and complacent as it revealed its soft light upon the world.
The man, who sat on the steps next to a checkers board, waved to another man who walked down his pathway.
“Charles,” greeted the man on the porch.
“Mornin’, Drake,” replied the other man, wrinkles and a bald head coloring his appearance.
“How was the check-up?” asked Drake as Charles seated himself on the steps.
“Same as usual. Pointless medications to make the fact that I’m dyin’ from lung cancer less painful or whatever.”
“I hear ya. Brain tumor meself.”
“Yeah.” Drake handed Charles a cup of tea and Charles nodded in appreciation before taking a sip. “You ever find that odd?”
“Throughout our whole goddamned lives, we did the same type of things and went through the same type of crap.”
“Not exactly the same,” retorted Drake, making a move on his board.
“Not exactly, nah, but close ‘nough. Your move.”
“You sure you wanna move your piece there?”
“Yeah, what’s wrong with that?”
Drake smirked, chuckling. “Okay. And you were saying?”
“When we was 18, who’d we marry?”
“I married the lovely Susan Ann, God rest her soul. A sweet church-goin’ girl.”
“Exactly. I married a girl whose life was in the church, too. We both had five children.”
“Yeah. All grown, good, and gone.”
“We raised our farms and made modest, honest livin’s as men of the land – son of a bitch! How did you do that?”
“Hahah! I warned ya.”
“Damn muskrat…” muttered Charles beneath his breath.
“So?” asked Drake. “What’s your point then?”
“Gettin’… gettin’ this cancer really put my life in perspective for me and I’m askin’ you this ’cause we have such like-minded lives: do you regret yours?”
This made Drake stop and look up at Charles carefully. He saw that Charles had an intense but faraway look in his eye – one intermixed with fear and something else; something sour and deeper.
“Nah, I don’t regret nothin’. I’ve had quite a content and happy life. I think I woulda made Confucius and them quite proud. Why you askin’ me this, Charles?”
Charles shrugged, turning his sight to the sky. “’Cause… ’cause I… I… I…”
Drake watched his friend shut his eyes painfully.
“I regret my entire life, from beginnin’ to end! I wish… I wish I was a city-man. I wish I coulda conquered the skies as one of them fancy-ass pilots, got with some fine city gals, maybe got a nicer house and a couple cars… I wish I coulda tried out actin’, got rich some… maybe build a mall or somethin’, name it after me. I wish I did all of that and wrote an autobiography about it… I wish… I wish… things were different…”
Drake snorted derisively. “Bullcrap, Charles.”
Charles snapped to Drake, whose eyes were back on the board. “What the hell you say, Drake?”
“You’re tellin’ me that, now, when you’re dyin’, that you want all that material stuff? Don’t be spreadin’ more diseased thoughts, please. I got a sick mind as is.”
“What, you Buddhist or somethin’?”
“Not particularly. But that’s not what I meant either.”
“Then stop bein’ so damn cryptic! Say what’s on your mind then!”
“The reason, and the only reason, why you’re so depressed is because throughout your entire life, you’ve lived like a machine – eatin’, movin’, growin’ but never actually bein’ there. You weren’t present, see? There was never anythin’ to bring that into you and that’s what you regret. Thing is – you could’ve realized that by the overwhelmin’ dull feelin’ buildin’ inside ya but nah, it took dyin’ to see what life had to offer. Ain’t that sad?”
Charles scoffed, bowing his head. Drake glanced up at him, watching as the man’s shoulders shook up and down.
The man tilted his head back and laughed heartily, bellowing like a big beast.
“You know, I’m thinkin’ maybe you’ve been readin’ some books behind my back.”
“Well,” said Drake, a coy smile on his face, “maybe we’re more different than you thought.”
“Yeah…” breathed Charles, standing up, pulling out a cigarette, and lighting it up, “ya probably right.”
“Those things’ll kill you, ya know!” called Drake after Charles, who began walking back down the road.
Charles only waved dismissively. “Who gives a damn?”
Drake just smirked, turning back to the board and sipping his tea. “Right… the only thing that cuts into livin’ is a wont to dyin’.”
Original Image: http://assets.worldwildlife.org/photos/4287/images/hero_full/NGP_Hargreaves.jpg?1370354523