the alcoholic author

The man walked along the rail lines, the whiskey warming him from within. Night had fallen some hours ago, leaving only a sliver of moon to see by. He kept to the margins, following the iron road wherever it led. Away was all he knew.

After a time, lights appeared in the distance. A township, if it could be called such. Sparse buildings huddled at the edge as if trying to flee the emptiness around them. He veered toward them, hoping for a drink or a place to sleep, untouched by the dreams that dogged his steps.

The saloon greeted him like an old friend. Smoke and noise and shadows embraced him at the threshold. At the bar, he procured another bottle without exchanging a word. Money meant little. In the corner, a haggard phonograph scratched out a tune, the same as any other night or place. But it stirred something in his blood all the same.

He drank and watched the others, every bit as adrift on the tides of fate that had washed them here. No lives worth speaking of, just passing time till time passed them. When dawn lightened the dirty windows, he rose and took his leave as murkily as he had come. The rails called him on, promising more of the same somewhere over the next rise. On he went, forever wandering as the notes of that nameless song echoed in the silent wasteland of his mind.