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He’d spent time in the cabin before, lots of it. Many of his childhood summers had been spent there. His Grandpa bragged that he’d built it himself but his mother always shook her head; it had been somebody else’s cabin before it was theirs but his Grandparents had improved it some. It had an electric stove and refrigerator and some space heaters even one air conditioning unit in the window of the ‘master bedroom’, the biggest one, the one he slept in now. It was cold in winter, too cold, but the family had never gone there then, the roads were largely impassible in deep snow and it was a 7 hour drive from their real house in Georgia, but Mike was grateful for it now, in ways that he hadn’t expected as a child or even an adult, because now this cabin was his home. It was what was left of his former life. He didn’t intend to ever move out.

It took him a while to make that decision. He’d gone to prison for the first time four years ago. Before that, when he was a kid, he’d spent a few nights here and there in the local jail, had racked up a couple of DUI’s, after one of which his wife Allie had let him stew there for a day or two and had been ‘disorderly’ a couple of times which had kept him in for a night every now and then. But this time he’d been in prison, which was a whole ‘nother thing.

When he got out he couldn’t look at himself in the same way anymore and didn’t want to live among those who knew what he knew and had seen and done what he’d seen and done.

So now he would live in the forest, like an ape or a hermit, all he deserved and all he really wanted.

There was a Piggyly Wiggly about 40 miles away and we went into town once a month or so.The town was mostly white, like all the towns he’d ever lived in. There were black people around but they didn’t really mix, there was no reason to. If he encountered any he put his head down, sick of shame for the way he had behaved, for the way everyone he knew had. Before he got arrested he’d had a pretty good house in the suburbs. He’d employed a Mexican gardener and a black woman to come in and clean once in awhile. They hadn’t had everything, but at least they’d had each other. Allie was dead now though, she didn’t make it through the beginnings of the insurrection. In the heat, the glee of the moment she had stormed the building as he had but she wanted to be up in front, waving her ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag. She’d left him behind in the crowd and practically walked over the shoulders of people in her way, athletic and lithe in a way she hadn’t been for years, a look of ecstasy on her face that he had rarely seen during sex, or having babies or anything else. Maybe she had some secret desire to die gloriously and that’s what it felt like. He hoped so. He hoped she didn’t suffer when they shot her in the neck and blood spurted out even as she continued the thrust of her movement, not even aware yet that for her everything was already over. In the hours after Allie died and was taken away on a stretcher, hours after all of it had happened, when Mike walked through the plaza lined with broken glass and dead and injured bodies, handcuffed and filthy and prodded by a man younger than his sons, and finally pushed into one of the buses lined up to take them to prison, it didn’t feel glorious at all. It felt shameful and it felt awful.

He had plenty of time to think about it in prison where he was heralded as some kind of hero for the part he had taken in a pivotal demonstration. He enjoyed the protection and even the camaraderie but he took to being silent. He couldn’t believe in the sayings anymore, the stories, the lies. He missed his wife and felt deeply sorry that he had lead her to go with him into this crazy world that had seemed so real. Allie believed it too, it was powerful for her, more powerful than even Church had been in the years she’d been so busy with it. She’d wanted something more for herself and her children and through the Movement she had seen that none of it was her fault, or his. They had worked hard, made it through community college, she’d been dental billing assistant and he worked as a manger at a shipping store, but somehow nothing ever store, but somehow nothing ever seemed to end up right for them. Their Ted was born down syndrome and struggled to even keep a job hauling boxes at a feed store and their Andrew was a straight up alcoholic who beat his wife and ate a lot of concrete in barroom brawls. They were good boys, still, but they were stunted, afraid, closed in.

When he quit ‘the movement’ Andrew stopped talking to him and Mike hadn’t found a way to repair that yet. Andrew knew that the door to the cabin was always open. Ted lived in a residence near his aunt, Allie’s sister. His condition was deteriorating, he couldn’t hold his bowels and when Mike talked to him now he made less and less sense.

Alone, near the woods and near a lake, Mike was grateful for the solitude. Bird song filled his days and he often looked at the rifle still leaning against the front doorjamb. He’d had a BB gun as a child. He and his siblings would go into the woods and shoot whatever they could, once in a while a slow squirrel and very often a bird of some sort which they just let the dogs chew on. He looked at them now, even the noisiest of them and wondered why on earth he had ever thought of shooting one

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