Dumb Cows(5)
Author:Steven Bennett

    The end of a life, after all, beganwith a single step, so he would put off that first step as long aspossible, finding endless projects of distraction around the houseuntil rising anxiety would almost chase him out the door. Then, oncethe journey had begun, he would start off in the opposite direction,meandering through old roads and trails, studying animals on theway, stopping to examine tracks in the mud, pretending to ponder themotives of movement of a deer or squirrel or gopher.

    When that failed to stop time he tookto counting and found diversion in numbers. He would count steps asif they were breaths; so many inbetween this fence post and thenext, between that birch and the next, that oak...yet the temporarycomfort turned to annoyance at the inconsistencies of man and natureas space could not be brought into line with mathematics. That ledto increased counting in an attempt to erase those sameinconsistencies which found even more inaccuracies which led to adeeper counting in an effort to find consistency even withininconsistency, and when that was not realized there came anger andfrustration at the failed expectations of men and nature and God andhe raised his fist and cursed the creator and begged for it all tobe taken away...even life itself.

    But it wasn’t.

    So he concentrated on the steps, tryingto find consistency in them and a meaning to his wanderings. So manysteps from his home to the next house, or his home to the next town,or the steps from his front door—entire journey, now—back to thesafety of his own bed.

    Still no relief.

    Then he took to a more morbidly defiantcounting. So many steps to this victim, to this death. Almost, Godhelp him, making a game of it at times. Fourteen thousand, sixhundred and forty-one steps to that murder. Twenty-one thousand,five-hundred and twenty-nine ‘til the next. Wondering if the finalnumber had any significance; related to a scripture or someprophetic day or year.

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