July 6, 2018

Flash Fiction by DB Cox: "Stranded"

DB Cox is a blues musician/writer from South Carolina. He grew up in a Southern Baptist Orphanage called Connie Maxwell Children’s Home in Greenwood, SC. He graduated from high school in 1966, and joined the Marines Corps right after the Vietnam TET Offensive in 1968. After being discharged in 1972, he spent several years playing guitar in bars, juke joints, and honky-tonks across the South.


It's been a long time coming
It's going to be a long time gone
But you know that the darkest hour
Is always just before the dawn… Crosby, Stills & Nash -“
Long Time Gone”

Sometimes at night, after the last light has been doused, I panic. I reach
into the dark hoping my fingers will brush against something I can hold

The quiet in this place has turned my mind to stone. I am no longer a part
of the picture. I sit and count the beats of my heart. I am leaking time.

Once I had a family. My mother used to write me long letters-messages
concerning forgiveness, love, and God-well meaning lessons in something or
other. Until my father died, he thought that I would be coming home soon.

One of the doctors is listening to my heart. He says that he has never heard
such murmuring and whistling from inside a human chest. He shakes his head
and asks: "How are you still alive?" The word “alive” tumbles around inside
my brain, striking nothing.

Slow movement forward through another day. I measure each evening by the
light left in the room. When I lie down at night, I no longer have a reason,
or a desire, to wake in the morning.

It’s a long time before the dawn. And when an old man dreams, he is forever
nineteen-stranded in the savage days of his youth…

Twenty-nine bodies are strung from the perimeter wire to the tree line. A
few are so close together that they seem to be holding each other. I am
mopping up. One of the bodies is separate from the rest-half in and half out
of the bush-inches from a clean getaway. He is still alive. I am riding the
remains of an adrenaline high-my brain still running like a wild dog. In my
mind, I try to stamp some meaning on this endless game of a thousand cuts,
but there's no way to filter the "input overload." The wounded soldier lying
at my feet looks up at me and blinks the sweat from his dark eyes. Now his
eyes are mine and my eyes are his-the same empty stare of fifty years and a
thousand yards of un-crossable ground. The barrel of my rifle is only inches
from his skinny chest. He opens his mouth as if to speak, but smiles
instead. Somewhere, nearby, a bird sings. I pull the trigger. The explosion
flushes a multicolored bird skyward. The silence smells like burnt

~DB Cox

DB Cox "Stranded"

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