Thurman P. Woodfork

EMPTY HOURS

Another New Year has begun and I remain awake in the quiet house. The TV set in the living room and the one on the back porch are set to different channels and, not disposed to get up, I alternately listen to each in turn as some sound penetrates my wandering mind and briefly recalls me back to the present.

Rod Stewart is singing “Maggie May” in the living room while, on the porch, the LA sheriff denies manhandling Michael Jackson during the “King of Pop’s” brief stay in jail. Actually, I’m not interested in either program, and soon return to my thoughts.

As usual, at the stroke of midnight, a bunch of the neighborhood nimnulls stepped outside and began firing guns into the air. Somebody should ship the lot off to Iraq or Afghanistan where they could get their fill of firing weapons. As for me, I was strangely undisturbed by the rattle of small arms fire, probably because I knew it was coming and was waiting for it.

I idly wondered what would happen if one of the celebrants got conked on the noggin by one of the bullets they were recklessly firing into the air. More than likely, the projectile would probably fall on some innocent person walking along the street instead of beaning the dummy who’d fired it.

Well, this year is almost five hours old, and this musing really isn’t going anywhere, so I may as well hang it up. The living room TV is now busy hyping a ‘Girls Gone Wild/Endless Spring Break’ video, and I wonder how many mothers are having minor heart attacks at the sight of their daughters gyrating about the screen… if, indeed, those really are college girls. It finally intrudes enough on my reminiscing to make me hunt up the remote and change channels.

I’m informed that the available lotteries in the Greater Washington area have a combined total of nearly half a billion dollars. What are the chances of some lucky soul hitting both? Almost makes me wish I had bought a couple of tickets.

Well, enough of this aimless meandering in the wee hours: Sitting here, I’ve mentally visited Spain, Montana, Alaska, and Viet Nam, along with some old boyhood haunts. Could these hours I spent rummaging through my memory really be classified as empty?

Not really, they were richly populated with the people and events of my past. I had camped out, perched on a sandbagged wall and watched a war, hiked through Glacier National Park, got a little drunk on the Ramblas in Barcelona, and dreamed awhile on white Mediterranean sands.

Well, to be honest, I guess there was a little bit of regret, a tiny sense of loss that the vital, agile young man who had done these things was now just sitting quietly, gray haired, half lost in reverie, dreaming away the night hours. But, no… not empty, no emptiness at all.

Submitted for the January 2004 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “Emptiness