The Wrong Way
"The Wrong Way Home"
The old man walked slowly out of the Dillons store carrying a bag of
groceries in one hand, his trusty cane in the other. He opened the door of
blue Ford pickup, laid the groceries on the seat on the passenger side with
his cane beside it. He lowered his frame onto the pickup seat, slammed the
door and sat ther for a moment to catch his breath. Then he started the
engine and drove out onto the street.
It was Howard Mason's intention to drive back to his house, but instead
he soon found himself on the four lane highway. The Old man suddenly
came to realize that he was lost.
He contined to travel at fourty miles an hour as cars and trucks sped
passed him as if he was standing still. Finally he turned off the highway o
onto a dirt road and stopped. He sat there for a time. He had to get back
to his house before his son's missed him. True, he was eighty six years old,
and in ill health, but this was the first time his memory had decived him.
As he sat there, a black late model Dodge pickup come up the road
toward him. The driver, a muscular man with a black beard wearing a soiled
brown stetson stopped beside him.
"You having trouble old timer?"
Howard shook his head. "Was kind of sleepy. Just resting my eyes
before I continue on."
The man in the black pickup nodded. "Have a good day." He drove out
onto the highway and turned the pickup toward Kingman.
The old man craned his neck to watch the pickup. "If I go the same
direction as he is," he said aloud, "I should get back to Kingman and find
my house before I'm missed." He sat there for another minute or so, then
he started the pickup and drove down the dirt road instead of turning
Howard Mason grew up on a farm. He attended grade school, then
helped his father on the farm instead of continuing his education. When
the United States entered the Second World war, he enlisted in the army.
He spent the early part of the war stationed on the homefront. He yearned
to get into the fight, and he got his wish with the invasion of Omaha Beach.
When the war ended, he returned to the farm and married the
neighbor girl, Grace Martin. He took over the farm when his parent's moved
to Kingman. They had five children, two boys and three girls. One of the
daughters died of cancer, the second was killed in an automobile accident.
Howard purchased the Martin farm, and soon after suffered a heart
attack. He turned the two farms over to his son's and moved to Kingman.
Grace was diagnosed with cancer and passed away on the eve of
their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary. After her funeral, Howard would
visit her grave every day until his health began to fail. He suffered another
heart attack, had prostrate cancer and a hip replacement.
Howard stopped the pickup when he came to a black topped road. He
sat there debating as to which way he should go. The sun was high in the sky.
His stomach growled. He glanced at his wristwatch to see that four hours
has passed since he left the grocery store. At least one of my son's is
probably looking for me, he thought. He swallowed hard when he glanced at
the gas gauge to see that only a quarter of a tank remained. He decided to
drive west. If he was lucky, he might find his way back home in an hour or
It had been a warm, sunny April day when dark clouds swept out of the
northwest. A chilly wind enveloped the landscape. The old man was only
vaguely aware of the changes as he tried to find his way home. He stopped
at an intersection, hesitated for a time before he turned off onto a dirt
road. He drove until he came to a cemetery. He stopped and gazed across
the cemetery at the head stones. In his confused state of mind, he imagined
he saw the head stone of his late wife, even though, in reality, it was fifty
He killed the engine and pulled the keys. He forced his stiff body out of
the pickup and grabbed his cane. Leaving the pikup door open, he crossed
to the four wire barbed wire fence dropping his keys in the tall, green
grass. He struggled across the fence, cutting his hands and ripping his pants on
the sharp barbs as the cool north wind seeped into his bones. He sahuffled
across the cemetary, and just as he was about the reach the head stone, a
gust of wind caused him to stumble, and he fell forward striking his head
against the stone.
He rolled over on his back as blood ran down his forehead and over his
right eye. He had lost his glasses and his cane. Pain enveloped his chest as a
light mist began to fall. the old man put his arm across his chest and forced
left eye open. He grimaced in pain as the faint outline of an angel stood in
front of him.