Lost in darkness the torched souls of when linger in eternal night, and as their numbers grow the manner of nocturne breeds further apathy to light, and the weight of sadness rest on us all and the burden darkens our essence.
Buck Taylor had been working at the Buckskin general store since he was tall enough to reach the counter. Now eighty-nine years old he had hoped to be taking it easy, relaxing on the banks of Taylor Lake, fishing and daydreaming.
When Bucks parents passed away in the nineteen-sixties, he and his wife, Francine, took over the store and in 1981, at fifty-one years old, Francine passed away while giving birth to their son, Jeremy, Buck nearly gave up.
Jeremy grew up, not only an only child, but the only child in the town of Buckskin…population thirty-four. In the nineteen-thirties Buckskin had been a thriving tobacco community with a population of over eleven hundred people. World War II took many of Buckskins sons and the war in Vietnam took even more.
Later on, as the world seemed to get smaller and the kids grew up and left for bigger cities in search of a better life, the population of Buckskin grew smaller and older. Now the graveyard at the only church in town had a population ten times grater than the town itself.
Jeremy was home schooled by Marylyn Stapleton, a retired schoolteacher who grew up in Buckskin and taught school in Richmond some sixty miles away. When Maryland retired, having never married, she moved back to her hometown to live out her retirement, and as it turned out she would mentor Jeremy, a relationship needed by both.
Jeremy was like the son or grandson of everyone in Buckskin filling a void needed by the aged, and they, a substitute for playmates for Jeremy.
When Jeremy turned eighteen he would drive to Richmond once a month to pick up supplies for the store. One day while on this errand he noticed a recruitment sign for the National Guard. He thought by joining the National Guard he could get out of Buckskin once in awhile and spend time with people his own age, and since there was no real need for the store to be open all day every day it wasn’t like he’d be abandoning his dad.
Buck worried but knew that Jeremy needed this as much as he needed Jeremy so he only offered words of encouragement.
Two years later on September 11, 2001 terrorist would fly airliners into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania and Buck knew it was only a matter of time before Jeremy would be leaving.
In spring of 2003 Jeremy’s unit was sent to Iraq. Jeremy, being an only son could have gotten out of it but he wanted to go out of a sense of obligation and a thirst to see more of the world.
Buck and the rest of Jeremy’s surrogate fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers all worried collectively for Jeremy’s safety and they all spent a good part of their time in church praying and telling stories about Jeremy.
The weeks passed and no one had heard a word from or about Jeremy, and as the worry grew the days seemed to grow darker. They all stopped talking and soon no one was venturing out to do their chores or anything else.
In July a military car pulled up to Buck’s store, Buck lived in a small house attached to the back of the store. Curtains parted in every window within sight but no one came out; everyone knew what the officers were there for…Jeremy was dead.
It rained the day they buried Jeremy, and all of the extended family was in attendance. Every expression was sad and the only one who spoke was Preacher Johnson.
That night was the darkest of any night the world had ever known and the air was thick with sadness. There were no lights on anywhere, and even though the skies had cleared the stars refused to shine. Buckskin may as well have never existed and to the rest of the spinning world it didn’t.
When light finally returned at dawn, after the long night of darkness, a car pulled up to the Buckskin General Store.
Two people exited the car, a man and a woman, a husband and wife taking the back roads to Richmond stopped for coffee. They walked into the store and were greeted by no one. They shouted out but no one answered. The walked back outside and the man shouted, “Is there anyone around?” Nothing…
They got back in the car and headed out of town and as they approached the church they slowed, “Look as the size of that graveyard!” The woman said. “How can it be so dark?”
There were no trees to shade it and not a cloud in the sky.
“Did you see that?” the man asked.
“Can we please get away from here…the mood here is really dark!”
As they drove away darkness spread from the graveyard to engulf all of Buckskin, and the gloomy weight of sad souls would be all that remained of the little town forever lost in darkness.
Copyright © 2008 D L Ennis