His hand shook as he put the cold key in the ignition. The engine thundered with startled horses. That deep echo rolled off the concrete canyons and harmonized with the ringing in his ears left by the explosion of the Colt. The pain was still there. He had watched in silent fascination as the hole opened in his chest, an eruption of scarlet, front and back, that picked him up off his feet and threw him back a good three feet before he collapsed in an undignified heap on the ground. The look of surprise on his face was still there where he lay ignominiously alone.
Shifting into Drive, he reined in the surging herd with practiced deftness and pulled slowly out of the parking space, turning the eager truck toward the mountains. West. Into the setting sun. To the open arms of the mountains of solitude and peace. Ahead the sun set on hopelessness and stupor. Here and there lights came on in warm homes he would never enter and where he would never be welcome. They faded into the dark of his diminishing despair.
For months the rage of solitary confinement had filled him. Seasons came and went, marching through birth, life, death, reincarnation, repetition. Alone he had faced each one despite the crowd of possibility. His only true companion had been the specter of his own death, more than a shadow aping his footsteps. No imminent salvation offered to intervene. No bloom offered petals of hope for the remaining years. Finally he took steps. The loads had been fulsome. The deadly points were hollowed with the emptiness of his despair, molded in the chalice of his empty heart, hallowed with promise.
Behind him now the Past stiffened and congealed in the rigor mortis of his leaving. With little effort he stopped thinking about it and looked ahead, concentrating only on the moonlit road revealing itself to him more clearly with each second, each mile of “going on” that he put between himself and the corpse of his own life that quickly bled out on the hard pavement of his former life. He would look back, but for now, as the barrel of the gun cooled and his senses returned, he thought only of the promise of the next mile. He knew with a prescient sureness that another life was there ahead. Part Two or Three or Four. He had lost track and wouldn’t stop now to count the spent chambers or those still offering explosive change.