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                                                                                                Craig Murray




     The world is filled with lost souls and empty hearts; those who stagger and drag themselves in morbid isolation through cities teeming with people.

     Kevin was one of those souls. Forever single, forever bereft of any real friends, forever forgotten. It is far more common than you would think, far more common than you would want.

     For Kevin, this had always been his world. With no siblings and his parents both dead at a very young age, Kevin was shifted from foster home to foster home as each family became bored with the silent boy. There were chances, there were times when he would have told anyone his tale. There were times when the words and feelings bubbled to the surface with abandon, threatening to break free, but it never happened.

     Either he had no audience or - worse - he had one that was disinterested. So Kevin, by and large, remained silent.

     Family was transitory, he had known parents once but it was so long ago and he had been so young they were little more than a dream. Once, as a young man, he had frozen in his tracks with a realization of horrific proportions. He had been on his way to school, his mind filled with grey errant thoughts when one of brilliant hue flew in. It was the face of his mother or, more accurately, it was the absence of it.

     He stood in mute horror as he understood that he could no longer see her face in his mind. He remembered the basics, he remembered the shape and the dark hair, but that was it. She was indistinct, out of focus. Her face was a blur, her voice silenced. It was like some ancient photograph left in the sun, slowly faded and lost. The cracks and chips flaked away memory and left only vague shapes. Kevin allowed a solitary tear to track down the curve of his face. He focused on it, the feeling, the movement, and used that focus to free himself from it.

     Friends were not to be trusted or counted on. How could he develop relationships when every six months he would be shunted to a new city, a new school, a new life? Kevin drew into himself, became his own best friend and accepted his lot with silent stoicism.

     School ended and, with it, his role as a ward of the state. Kevin was now a man, tall, silent and alone. No one attended his graduation, no family thronged, no presents were presented. He walked up alone and returned alone and the closest thing he received was a call from his caseworker.

     She congratulated him on graduating but it was a perfunctory salutation. Next was the explanation of the upcoming termination of benefits. Basically he was told that in three months he was on his own. This news did bring a wry smile to his face as he considered he always had been.

     His isolation had led to studiousness. His studiousness to mathematics. Now with a scholarship, it was off to a university where nothing changed. Graduation brought only the opportunity for employment and the start of a new phase of his monkish existence.

     Employed by the government as a cryptanalyst, his days were filled with intellectual loneliness and his nights with silence. His was a world of numbers and puzzles and he worked with those who were remarkably similar to himself.

     You would think that the isolated could take comfort with their ilk, but they don't. Silence breeds silence and weeks could go by without a sound echoing through the office.

     Kevin's only solace, his only escape, was found quite by accident one night. He had decided that he wanted to do a little stargazing but instead of driving into the country, he would just sneak up onto the roof. The apartment building was quite old and he was astonished to see something he had never noticed before.

     Sitting back from the edge was a great stone gargoyle, hunched and feral looking in the dark. This stone protector sat on its haunches while long taloned legs stretched out in front. The face was a strange mixture of lion and dragon with a sadly pensive look.

     Kevin studied the strange creature with a delighted fascination. Invisible from street level, forgotten and unknown, he felt an immediate kinship with the silent stone.

     Thus began a friendship that seemed decidedly one-sided yet totally satisfying. Here, Kevin found a ready ear to listen and a strong shoulder to lean against. Here, he found the one thing that would not leave and could not change. Here was Kevin's new family.

     Over the years, his great release, his confidant, his best friend sat in mute silence. Forever ready, forever available to listen when the fears threatened or the loneliness overwhelmed. Kevin would sit between those legs and lean back against the wide chest. His vista was uninterrupted stars and eternal horizons.

     Time passed as it always had and the young man became the old man. The climb up the stairs became more difficult and the wind more biting. The machine was slowing down and the days were drawing to a close.

     One day, like so many others, Kevin made his painful and slow way to the roof and to his only companion. Taking his position against the cold chest, he sat in silence, enjoying the company of his only real kin.

     Now was the time that all the words had been said. All the worries had been excised and all the fears gone. It was the time when all his dreams and all his hopes had been shared and there was nothing left to give. It was in this time and in this place so holy and valued to him that Kevin slept his final sleep. Unknown, he remained there for hours as the remaining warmth of his remains seeped into the cold stone and eddies of wind.

     When all was silent and all was cold, a single solitary tear slid down the stony facade to drop unnoticed onto the old man's lapel.


                                                                                                Craig Murray

triple rule

Loch Raven Review Winter 2005 — Vol. I, No. 2
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