The old man restlessly flops, twists, and turns in his sleep, repeatedly awakened by nightly calls to empty his bladder and lessen the pain in his legs and spine.
In the distance, he hears the noise tires make as first-shift factory workers and other laborers make their way to their places of employment.
As the old man nears the door of the bedroom, he stops, turns, and pulls back the curtain on the window.
The old man and the window know each other well. He has stood at this window thousands of times, perusing the village street — a main two-lane highway running north to southeast through Defiance County.
The old man surveys the early morning landscape. He glances up at the yellow streetlight giving off its glow. The light reflects off a light snow that is falling.
The old man glances at the car sitting in his driveway — a 2020 Ford Edge — covered with a skiff of snow.
To the south and west, the old man notices the lights are on at what he calls the “party house.” Young adults live there, though they are rarely seen except for when they throw a party. Then, the house is pulsating with music so loud that even the deaf old man hears the noise. Voices, laughter, and drunken revelry join the music, singing a chorus of freedom. But on this morning, the house is quiet.
The house on the corner shows signs of life. The old man notices his young neighbor’s minivan is running, the heater warming its cabin before the neighbor leaves for work. The right flasher is flashing, likely having been accidentally activated when the neighbor started the van.
Farther to the west, the old man sees the lighted sign for the local bar and restaurant. Cars are parked along the road, likely farmers meeting at the restaurant to eat breakfast and catch up on the latest gossip
Far in the distance, the old man sees the sign for the local gas station and convenience store. Nearby hangs the town’s one unnecessary traffic light.
The old man sees all of these things in seconds.
He wonders, “How many more times will I look out this window before I die?”
He knows the answer, “not many.” There will come a day when life will continue coursing through the streets of Ney, but without the old man in the window.
All he knows is that today is not that day.
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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