The stars that had been shining so bright, those luminous beacons of universal majestic light, promising eternity and freedom, they were just tears.
I stumbled off the front porch and fell to my knees, skinning the palms of my hands and ripping my tired old man slacks.
“Oh crap,” I said.
The macrocosm of infinite glory was silent. I tasted dust.
I picked myself up, rubbed my hands on the side of my legs and then I blew on them for good luck.
Once I got my balance, I turned around, looking for the safety, the security, the sameness of my house. It was gone. There was no moon in the sky. It was a starless night. Everything was pitch-dark, black as death.
I stood with my legs wide, carefully balanced, waiting, waiting for my eyes to adjust, waiting to see some outline, some sense in things. It didn’t happen. Have you ever been a prisoner in solitary confinement, deep inside an Iraqi prison on a moonlit night, when your only friend was your frightened stinking sweat and you couldn’t see your hands, even when you held them inches from your aching face? Probably not. It doesn’t matter.
I was in a fix.
I crept back towards the house, arms wide, making a horseshoe of my upper body. Each sliding step sounded like sandpaper scraping hard into pine. My toes finally bumped up against the edge of the porch and I stepped carefully up onto it. I felt for the door and opened it.
Inside, outside, all the same. Black on black on black on black. I stepped inside the threshold. I reached around the door jamb and felt for the light switch. It was gone.
I lifted my foot over the threshold and gently, so gently, lowered my foot to touch base, to rest it on my own happy entryway, my home, my safety, my security, my life; but, there was nothing there.
I bent my knee and stretched my heel down into black emptiness. I twisted myself around, lay flat on the stoop and stretched my arm down into the void that had incredibly taken the place of my hallway. I stood back up and called out, “Sally?” Somehow I thought my wife would answer from the gaping pit of hell that my home had been transformed into.
“Beauregard!” Surely, my faithful dog would respond.
Nothing. That profound quietude hurt more than not having the wife call out to me. Surely, if he were anywhere around, Bobo would come bounding to me, ever joyous at my existence.
I pinched myself.
I turned and faced what used to be the street.
A slice of light, a wedge of life opened up far away from me. In the emptiness of all else, it might have been a mile away. I had no sense of perspective.
I had no choice.
It was a slightly open door. There was a party going on, inside.
Shades of Franz Kafka! I was metamorphosized into a giant, fleshy moth. I fluttered unsteadily, bat-blindly and wavering towards that light.