Death halts. It halts before your dying form, it watches and takes in the last moments and those looks on your face when you realize that the end is the end and it’s near. When you’re sick it waits in the far corners of your room, if you die instantaneously it watches, inches and half-inches away from your eyes and it witnesses the pupils contract as unseen light fills them and it sees through your eyelids as they widen and then nothing. And if you’re unlucky enough not to die then it will just hang in the air, with its presence acclimating to where you’re going. Then when you die, you can be just as shocked as death and you’ll both turn white as the margins of your eyes. That’s only if you’re unlucky enough not to die.
For Gomez death would wait until dehydration made his cramping steps falter and walk backwards three feet in front of him. Then Gomez would crawl and death would walk backwards two feet in front of him. Then Gomez would stop moving except out of the need to not resign to his fate, and death would wait a foot from him. And Gomez’s final breath would be sucked in and stolen by death hovering inches from him.
But Gomez was miles from death and death had miles to go and many other promises to keep. And Robert Frost dies every time his poetry is consumed, but death waits not, watches less and never wants to witness that again, but the reason death remains so callous to its job? It has to watch the poets die. Over and over again.
Mason labored over shifting gears setting out for the stretch of invisibility that separates us from them. He kept a weather eye out for a haggard stretch looming in infinitesimal sadness that contained his sloth and his other sins. He kept his eyes on every new horizon in 270 degrees and a mirror on the rest.
Every sense was focused on that Mexican. He had fifteen minutes ‘til he hit the border at its closest point to Holden, no doubt a cavalry awaited armed to the teeth. And if he could match that man’s steps and ultimately overtake him. Then a weighted chest would be unburdened.
Could he buy his health at the cost of shells?
But lo, in the distance a growling limp with blood and sweat cursing at itself and all the sand around it was beating a path south.
Now for the hills.