This week's sentence was taken from Ken Kesey's glorious 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.'
'Out along the dim six-o'clock street, I saw leafless trees standing, striking the sidewalk there like wooden lightning, concrete split apart where they hit, all in a fenced-in ring.'
I stepped outside and the chill hit. Bitter. I shook like a wet dog, my body sucking the last feeble warmth from my insides. I hadn’t eaten or slept since I couldn’t remember when.
Out along the dim six-o'clock street, I saw leafless trees standing, striking the sidewalk there like wooden lightning, concrete split apart where they hit, all in a fenced-in ring. Crab grass, rot and detritus strangling the shattered kerb at the impact zone.
I blinked. I saw grey: grey street, grey sidewalk, grey houses, grey sky. One big grey cloud, dark, mottled, livid like a bruise, hanging low, draped, drizzling over buildings like a damp duvet from horizon to horizon.
Dirty snow still hung around in patches like crusted scabs. Old grey snow so hard and sharp it could cut you, hunkered down gritting its teeth, marking the target for the next cold front, due in later today with another two feet of fresh reinforcements.
Down the street I saw Ralph stumble off to look for work through a yard strewn with broken Christmas sculptures, past last summer’s barbecue, tipped over and rusting in the long grass, past the long-dead Chevy Impala up on blocks, paint faded and peeling, off to wait for the bus in the freezing rain.
I saw the street pitted with potholes, littered with filth. Where I used to park my car leaned the crumpled blackened brazier round which me and Ralph had shared our last beer, warming our hands burning all the crap Arlene had left behind when she walked out on me and laughing long and hard and bitter. Shit, that was months ago.
I saw the rain turn to sleet. Stinging cold whipped up from Erie lashing down at my face. My teeth chattered and I hugged myself, wondering what the fuck I was doing out there. Too numb and too dumb to go back inside I carried on staring at the madness around me.
All along the street I saw plywood nailed up over windows. I saw dogshit, broken glass, plastic bags, gang tags, sodden cardboard, wrecked cars and the hopeless despair of the broken American Dream.
I saw drab lives shivering subterranean in dank, dark rooms, the deep and desperate helpless hurt of decent working people betrayed by imbecile greed.
I saw bright colours splash like blood, painful against the grey. Foreclosure boards. KEEP OUT! This house is no longer your home. We would rather it stand empty and rot than let you live in it.
Closing my eyes I saw blue skies, laughing children, Ralph and Norma, Arlene and me drunk as skunks, kicking back on lawn chairs and shooting the breeze, sharing our hopes and dreams long into the night.
And I saw myself standing here, unshaven and unwashed in dressing gown and slippers, no longer comprehending the world I was seeing.
Shell-shocked. What the fuck happened?
I saw the bus carrying Ralph off to look for work.
I stepped in front of it.