The Corolla screams as it slows to a stop,
Resting at a weeping brick building.
Both the car and the walls are gray and peeling.
A flick of the wrist and the engine shimmies
And clunk, clunk, clunks.
My frown deepens to the point
My hand caresses the handle and
My shoulder pops and the door pops,
And out I tumble into the wind.
I dust off my hands,
Tattooed with gravel,
To pull the thin crocheted sweater closer,
Mom made it white.
Time made it yellow.
My feet push on.
Left, right, left.
I stop at the front door.
Jingling keys sing the national anthem,
Before I shove them into a weather-worn hole.
The shops walls are the patches of a quilt,
Stuffed with graffiti.
The “Closed” sign glares at me.
“You’re late,” it yells. I ignore it.
I scan the horizons for any sign of life,
But it’s gray up there.
Dark, then light, then dark.
No blue today.
Or the day before.
No blue tomorrow either.
My eye catches on the vinyl sign hanging above the shop doors.
It should read my name and profession.
It should trumpet in each day, and herald my exit,
instead, it dangles from a roof,
wishing it adorned another.
“Axman Jones,” it says.
An angry client tore out the “T,”
And not even a Sharpie could
Save the sign, much less
At ease solider.
My shoulders sink,
Deeper and deeper until I am nothing but a shell.
“Would Jesus even hang out with me?”
I scoff and straighten my back.
Jesus picked better sinners.
The wind of ice and fury sings “Taps” in the distance.
I open the door and lock it tight behind me.