The cold woke him. Shivering, he opened the kitchen stove. The fire was almost out. Cursing, he called his son. No reply. The boy’s bed was empty. He pulled on heavy boots, fur coat and hat. His rifle was gone. Disordered footprints leading towards the trees silently filled with snow.
They got what they came for. All his hits. They yelled, whooped, sang along, applauded till their hands hurt, held lighters high. Two encores. Thank you, God bless, goodnight. Alone in the hotel, he stared at the bottle on the table. How many more times. Too old to quit now.
It gleamed in the sun. Low-slung, V-twin, ninety-six cubic inches. Just point it at the horizon, roll the wrist and gone. His credit card glowed like depleted uranium. Easy. Did the salesman smile in encouragement, he wondered, or pity? Deep down, he knew. He should have done this years ago.
He stood at the centre of the field. Forty acres of young wheat shone palely at his feet. The March wind, knifing out of the east, found every hole in his tattered overcoat. From a fencepost, a crow eyed him sardonically, knowing there wasn’t a damn thing he could do.