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I’m a Man of Arklay

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Day 881 since the Outbreak

My mornings aren’t so different as they once were. Before everything fell apart, I had a routine going: wake up, toilet, wash, get a drink and stare out the window. Usually, I had a pretty early start on the day, so there wasn’t much to see outside. Just empty streets and dark houses. That’s much the same here in Arklay. There ain’t a lot of activity living here on the Fringe.

If I wasn’t staring out the window of my trailer back home in Kearney, it was out the window of my cabin, truck cabin that is. Whether I’d be at home or on the road, this is the same thing I’ve done every day. Even from wherever I was holding up after the apocalypse, I’d do just that. Staring, just looking out, gave me a moment to reflect.

This morning, I thought about where it was I came from and where I am now. That’s a long ways, and I’m not talking distance, it’s time as well. Time changes things, you know. Everything looks different after you’ve been gone, even yourself sometimes. I get to thinking to myself: how much have I changed?

Before Arklay, I wasn’t much the settling down type. Always on the run from this way to that way. Even as a kid, I was barely home. I was camping in the woods on weekends or staying at a friend’s, or just being out somewhere. I remember I had a bed growing up, I just barely even used it.

Now, my running around wasn’t with the blessing of my ma and paw. They saw me as a reckless, and I probably was. There was a lot of fighting back in my day. Skinny little red haired kid I was made me an easy target. If you stuck out at all, kids notice, and they try to nail you in place. There was a lot of fights because of that. Didn’t win too many of them, not until I learned how to cheat. Used to put rocks in my hands to throw punches! That did some good work!

Winning or losing though didn’t go over well with my folks. They got a lot of angry phone calls because of me. That made for a whole lot of tension between us and especially with my older brothers; all three of them. I’m the youngest. And we’d all fight too! Sometimes playing, sometimes we really meant it. When we meant it, they got the rocks! To the face. And my folks footed the dentist bills because of it.

That was hard for the working class family that we was. There was always bills piling up, because some kid hurt themselves or we hurt each other. Needless to say, none of us had much growing up. We didn’t see much under the tree come Christmas. Though, I remember one year I got a bike. All shiny and red with black leather seat. My prized possession! Until it got stolen.

While I had it though, I rode that thing everywhere. Up and down hills, over curbs, through the woods, up ramps, and splashed right through ponds. It was about that time that I came to realize that I really liked setting my own course for the places I wanted to go. Never was much of a follower, nor a leader. Just always off on my own, doing things to the beat of my own drum, and heading off wherever I wanted.

That didn’t change for me. In my younger days, I didn’t care for no rules and having folks tell me where to go at what time. Much the reason I didn’t finish school! It was eventually though when I got my GED. I needed that for what I really wanted to do, I wanted take the big hauls cross country.

Been through east and west coast and even some parts of Canada. Did all that for about twenty years. Saw a lot of places, did a lot of things. Put my toes in the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific. Passed through the Painted Desert of Arizona and even saw its Great Canyon. Saw Niagara Falls from both sides. Laid my eyes upon the shining lights of New York City and Las Vegas. Been to Mt. Rushmore and our nation’s capital. There’s about a dozen more of the major places I been through.

I’d always end up back home at some point though, back to Kearney, Nebraska. Had a trailer there, but it was mostly where I just kept my stuff and have mail pile up. And Ruth. Ruth was my old lady before all this went down. We weren’t married. She wanted it, I wasn’t ready. Don’t regret not going through it all. She was the type of woman that lead to man’s ruin. You’d do anything for her by the way she looked and the charm she had. Legs for days, pretty baby blue eyes, curly blond hair, and an ass that won’t quit. And boy, it didn’t as I’d learn more than once. It didn’t quit for me and not for Wade, Austin, Billy Bob, Billy Ray, Jessie, Cletus and a lot more other guys I came to learn. While I was away all that time, Ruth had been plenty busy finding ways to entertain herself without me.

And I was no stranger to some strange myself. I’ve got some stories of lot lizards and other truck stop encounters to share. That’s for another time though. Having all that freedom on the road, sometimes it just gets lonely, you know? Lucky for the folks like me, there was a lot of single serving friends to meet along the way. I guess you can say I wasn’t all that lonely.

That’s a life I left behind me though, but not to my liking. Change was forced upon me, as it was with everyone else, when the dead started coming back to life. Going without shelter now means death. You need a place to stay to survive. I don’t much like it, but it is what it is. That’s the way the world is now and that’s the way it’s going to be. I’m a man of Arklay now.