“What’s this” asked the pretty young waitress, tapping with her pencil the tin container he had placed carefully near the table edge.
He looked up from the menu. The girl’s badge identified her as Julia. Her vacant smile identified her as a local. “I’m in town to dispose of my father’s remains” he said bluntly.
The waitress gave an almost imperceptible wince. She shifted her weight and her gaze shot across the room, before quickly remembering herself. She should never have asked.
The people in this town were quick to look away, eager to ignore. It was a trait which had defined his childhood and he hated them for it.
“We lived round here, when I was a kid. He was happy here”. He held eye contact with the girl, deliberately unsettling her just to see if he could.
“That’s sweet”, said the waitress pretending that the conversation wasn’t troubling. She looked at her notepad, trying to bring his attention to the matter in hand.
He ordered a black coffee.
After, drove to the bluffs, stopping for gas at the local station. He filled the tank. Paying in cash, the guy behind the counter didn’t even look up from his paper.
Parking the rental car up here, he could see out across the whole town. At night, with only streetlights, perhaps the view from up here would be beautiful. As it was, the slowly dying small town beneath him looked vacant and ugly.
Lifting it from the passenger seat he opened the tin for the last time, took a look at the papers within. A whole childhood was in there. Folded letters and faded photographs of long gone relatives. The harsh, desperate crayon drawings of a childhood filled with people who wouldn’t look him in the eye.
He opened the trunk to check on the old man. Purple bruises had formed on his father’s wrists where the rope had rubbed aged skin. Blood from his nose had dried against the tape covering his mouth. He thought about removing it and giving the old man one last opportunity to speak, to explain himself, but though better of it. Yellowed eyes look up at him, pleading. He had look at his father the same way once and hadn’t been shown any mercy. He emptied the contents of the tin into the boot before slamming it shut.
A rag in the gas tank and the rasp of a lighter. A single blast and the car was a shell, black smoke drifting into the empty sky over the town
Would the people below even look up?