Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are buckle, evade, wedge.

The Journey
He stands at the edge of a vast field, swaying gently. Wearily.

The earth here has been tilled, right up to the man’s scuffed and dust-caked military-styled boots. The richness of the soil perfumes the air, a musky sensuality. A luxuriance of wet and grass and manure; heavy organic.

The man is dressed in a wool sweater; there are holes under one arm and where the wool has been looped to the collar. At the wrists, the fibers have become unbunched; they are ragged and soiled, small dreadlocks of wool.

His undershirt has been sweat-soaked and dried in numerous cycles. It is threadbare. Once white, it now has the color of corn silk, or sail canvas.

He wears jeans, which are held to his withered and emaciated frame by a slim leather belt. It’s a dress belt with a brass buckle that still manages to shine. The leather was once cordovan, but it’s been beaten down to something resembling old blood.

The denim has gone soft and white in places, where the navy dye decided to just give up. Holes, ragged, are open over both knees, which are bony and bare. Stress holes have opened near the back pockets; where the pants meet the boots, the hem has been reduced to frayed cotton.

The man’s deep brown eyes, sunken into bony cheeks, give his face a skeletal appearance. Albeit one with a thick, dark and curly beard that covers his face, his neck, down to the tattered collar of his sweater. A watch cap, black with the logo of a pro sports team, is wedged tight on his head, helping to keep his long, greasy-brown hair from blowing in the wind.

He is tall. He is thin. Shed the tattered clothing and he would stand there, hands covered his maleness in shamed modesty, white as the belly of dead fish. Each rib would stand out, willing you to count them, out loud.

He has journeyed long. His travels have taken him far a field. He has learned to evade. He has managed to survive.

To the edge of this vast field.

This expanse that has been plowed, its rich tang now clinging to the man’s nostrils, the greasy-brown hair, the tattered clothing.

His right hand rises, hesitates, and is thrust forward. Fingertips touch the twisted, rusted metal. A barb pierces his index finger, but the man does not flinch.

He turns his hand over and watches as the dot of blood goes from a pin-prick to a dome of red. Gravity takes over and the blood runs at an angle, across his other digits.

The man looks up. He looks across the vastness of the field.
And looks down to the fence, where a sign hangs. Its newness, fresh red paint on a white background, clashes with the twisted wreckage of the barbed wire fencing. He reads, the words forming silently on wind-chapped lips.

“TRESSPASSERS WILL BE SHOT DEAD; THE WOUNDED WILL BE SHOT AGAIN.”

His right hand rises to his hip, where the blood smears the little coin pocket of his jeans as he wipes.

He purses his lips, licks them. He exhales a great breath through his nose, a huff.

A single tear rolls down his cheek.

17 comments:

VL Sheridan said...

Wow. Where is he? Where's he been? Love a story that makes you want more answers.

Ramesh Sood said...

He will survive for sure.. wow! ThomG.. it's beautiful..great expression and flow.. a nicely weaved tale...

Kim Nelson said...

As I read, the scene opened up like a well-crafted movie.

Rinkly Rimes said...

Very descriptive. I could see him standing there.

anthonynorth said...

Nice and edgy. Excellent.
By the way, I'm back, with a new blog.

ms pie said...

becoming familiar with his every move i wanted to know more about this weary traveler...

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

I would definitely like to know more. Poor guy.

Peter Dudley said...

Just passing through. Gorgeous detail throughout this, and as I remember, superb word choices. Not sure if it's a typo or not, but I love the "fresh red pain on a white background." (On the other hand, you might have meant emaciated where you have emancipated?) I do indeed leave this wanting to know this guy's story. Well written.

Jeni Mc said...

so. we've talked today about this piece, but wanted to comment to.

I read this, and loved it. It left it up to the reader to decided, is he running from something or to something. Who was he before, now and in the future.

I've decided my answers to all those questions and I love that you left it open for me to do that.

good stuff Thom. good stuff.

jaerose said...

A perfect example of how to create a character - like the others I am wondering what that field is..I hope it is a place of salvation..Happy New Year to you and thanks providing such a great site..glad I found it..Jae

Donna Hole said...

Such vivid atmosphere and characterization. Haunting and surreal, yet the new sign firmly plant the reader in the present. This man and his world will stick with me long after clicking off the site.

Well done.

........dhole

sharplittlepencil said...

Thom, your writing continues to deepen. Everyone is asking questions, postulating theories on your comments column. This is a sign of good writing.

As for me, everything rang true, and the vision conjured in my mind is sad but so real.

Amy Barlow Liberatore

julito77 said...

Very cool. I like how you spend time describing the man, that is cool. My favorite was the belt buckle line, it just stuck with me. The ending was sad, but caught me as if he was escaping from something or someone?

Steve Green said...

Terrifically descriptive writing Thom, and as others have said, it raises many questions about the character's past, and his future. Do you have any plans to expand on this story?

Deanna Schrayer said...

Thom, you have a gift for character description, that's all there is to it.

I love the imagery of this: "...white as the belly of dead fish. Each rib would stand out, willing you to count them, out loud."

Well done!

Monica Manning said...

The description is beautiful. I am brought into his world; I can feel the texture of his ragged clothes and smell the stench of his unwashed body. It's beautiful and sad. Great work, Thom.

flyingscribbler said...

This is powerful, particularly in the description. I got a real sense of the trauma he must have suffered to bring him to this point. The field is obviously significant and i have ideas about why he is going to try and cross it. This could turn into a much longer piece i'm sure.