The Dragonfly and Raven

The Dragonfly and Raven

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Old Man on the Hill

On desolate hill above a small town there stands a house. It is old and disheveled, with shingles missing from the roof, and the white paint is faded. As one approaches the house, they must first walk up a paved stoned path, made of river-rock taken from a small creek several miles west. The path is not completely even, though it is even enough to not cause trouble for the inhabitant of the house. There is no road connection to the small, lonely building, as the owner never cared for the hustle and bustle of the post-war society. No, he preferred instead to use the legs his maker had given him, taking a pleasant half-mile or so walk down to the town below.

Once one is on the stone path, and at the top of the hill, they come across a waist high dry stone wall, with a plain brown picket fence style gate. Past the gate, there is a space for a large garden, one that has not existed for some time. Now all that remains is a jungle of dandelions and chickweed and clovers. In the tangle of green lie patches of yellow celandine and white daisies. Slow worms can be seen slithering in the high grass, though they keep to themselves.

Once one is through the garden, one will find themselves at the front door of the house. Upon rapping on the door with a small brass knocker, one will find themselves facing an old man wearing a tan woolen sweater with gray tweed pants and jacket. He is hunched over slightly, and in his left hand is a dark-stained birch derby cane. He smiles warmly, crooked, yellow teeth visible. He has thin, wire-framed glasses over his kind blue eyes. His name is Thomas Evans, and this is the story of his end.

* * *

It was a warm summer's afternoon when it happened. The sun was nearing the end of its arc through the sky, as Apollo prepared to end his day of labour. Warblers and larks could be heard chirping away happily, minding their own business. In his house, Thomas Evans is making tea. He takes his pot of boiling water off of the stove, and begins to pour it into a small teacup. A sharp pain in the chest strikes Thomas, and he sets the pot down. He stands there, doubled over in his kitchen, clutching his chest. Then, there comes a series of raps at the door.

Thud.

Thud.

Thud.

Still hunched over, Thomas makes his way over to the front door, opening it. As he did, all of the lights in his house went out, like the flame of a candle blown out at night. At his door is a tall, skinny man dressed in an all black suit. His skin is pale, and the only color he has is a single red rose in the breast pocket of his jacket. He carries a candle lantern in one hand, and in the other he holds a black pocket-watch inlaid with gold in the shape of skull. On his shoulder is perched a jet-black raven, which calmly stares at Thomas.

“Who are you?”

“I am Michael.”

“How can I help you Michael?”

Michael grins, “Oh Thomas Evans, I am not here for your help. I am here to help you. Come, let us walk together.”

Thomas trusted this stranger, though he did not know why. He felt as if Michael was a good person, and that he meant no ill will. Closing his door, Thomas followed Michael into his garden, through the brown picket-fence like gate, and down the paved stone road. The trail made its way into a small wood that bordered the town below Thomas' house. They were about halfway down the trail when Michael turned onto a dirt path, one that Thomas had never seen before. But he followed the man in black anyway. There was just something about the man, something that compelled Thomas to follow him.

Finally, after many twists and turns, they came to a large stone wall at the wood's edge. The wall was of the same dry stone that he had at his home, though it was several heads taller than he. In the center of the wall was a large iron gate, which Michael opened. Beyond the gate was the blinding light of the sun. It was so bright that Thomas could not see beyond the wall. Michael gestured for him to continue. Bowing his head slightly, he thanked Michael, stepping into the light.

* * *

Several days later, when people in the town noticed that Thomas had not been down for a good while, a constable was dispatched to check on him. They found him lying on his kitchen floor, teapot fallen, its contents strewn over the floor. They tore down his home, replacing it with a cemetery, where they buried him. While they built a new road to service it, the city kept the old stone road. More often than not, you can still see the people of the town walking up the weathered stone road to visit the cemetery to this day, bringing flowers for the departed.