This is not the beginning of the story. The story begins in this place, at another time. Or perhaps in another place, at this time. Whatever the case, our entry point is this.
In this place, here and now, but not at the beginning, is a man age 73. He is the king of his house, a modest three-bedroom home constructed in 1978. It has a Tudor façade, and a small, shaded pool out back. It features a sunken living room with dark wood paneling. Like many homes of its time, it is dark inside, even during the day.
This king has a throne. His throne is a chair pushed against a window of the sunken living room. It is near the fireplace, and the front door. The front door is swung wide to reveal the world, but a glass storm door keeps this same world out.
In his chair the king reclines for hours each day. It is a comfort to him, fitted over the years to his girth. Others would not be comfortable in this chair. The shape it has taken will allow no other. It is the chair of one king alone. This king. Its arm makes this clear. Over the arm hangs the king’s hand. Under his fingers, which rub clockwise by the hour, by the year, the fabric is raw.
The eyes of the king are open but unseeing. He is mulling his history in his mind. Rubbing the arm of his chair. The hours pass, and he rubs, and the raw patch expands. The shadows in the room shift and grow long. Beams of sunlight pierce the kitchen windows, illuminating the king as if he were posing for Rembrandt. Still he gazes at – not out – the glass storm door at the front of his castle, his lower lip jutting upwards in bitterness. Light glistens on the moist, dissatisfied lip.
His mind replays footage from the past. Unfinished plans, awkward conversations, decisions that were wrong. His head shakes as he remembers mistakes made years ago. Some were his. Some were not his but hurt just as much. His fingers rub the raw patch.
The king coughs suddenly. A chesty, wet cough. The clockwise motion of his fingers ceases, he reaches for the plastic cup on the hearth. He drops his chin while puckering his lips. He lifts the cup slowly, with care not to spill its contents. It is a 48 oz Thirst Buster. Was, at one time. No one would care to bust a thirst with it now. He brings it to his chin and releases his cough into the cup. He returns the cup to the hearth carefully, and yet a bit spills over the rim onto his fingers. He wipes them against his pant leg and adjusts his sunglasses. They are broken, hooked on by only one earpiece. The large, round lenses hang crooked over the man’s large, round nose.
Headlamps illuminate the man in his chair. Beams reflected as points of light in the lenses of his sunglasses. His chair faces the front door and the glass storm door separating him from the outside world. Through it he sees a vehicle pull into the drive. His hand rubs the raw spot on the arm of the chair. The headlamps outside go dark.
The door of the car swings open. One boot hits the driveway, then another. The door closes with a whump.
A doorbell chimes.
The man’s eyebrows go up. But only for a moment. Then he brings them down. He has found reason to be displeased by the chiming of the door. He does not move, except for his hand, which continues to rub.
A young man stands on the porch, looking in. He cups his hand against the glass, and sees the old king in his chair. The young man pulls the handle and opens the thin glass door. Enters the house.
He mumbles hello.
The king of the house frowns. It might indicate displeasure. It might be unwillingness to display pleasure. It might be a suspicion that the young man hoped to find the old man dead. “Hmm,” rumbles the old man.
He is the king of this house.
All has happened before, nothing is going to change, and more is yet to come.
This is not the end of the story. The story ends in this place, at another time. Or perhaps in another place, at this time. Whatever the case, our exit point is this.
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