The weary man slid off his horse, standing at the entrance to the cemetery, afraid to go in. He nervously pulled off his hat to run a hand over his hair, before plopping the headpiece back down. Then, he tucked a stray piece of his overly long hair back behind an ear where it belonged. He’d come as soon as he’d heard, but it hadn’t been soon enough.
Leaving his horse tied to the gate, he tentatively stepped inside, his strides moving faster and faster as he scanned the markers, looking for that one name, the one that meant so much, the only thing with the power to draw him back here, draw him back to this place with so many memories he’d rather forget.ugh. His mentor, the one man he could proudly call father, the man who’d taught him to be who he was, was gone by the time he’d gotten here.
Finding it, he squatted down in front of the stone, gently tracing his fingers across the letters carved deep into the cold surface, pain twisting his features into a caricature of their normal appearance. This is all that was left of his friend, these few words that the relentless wind would eventually wipe away into nothing. Suddenly, all purpose seemed to leave his body and he collapsed onto the ground, leaning against the stone as he’d once leaned against the old man now buried beneath it.
Reaching into an inside pocket of his coat, he pulled out a flask, unscrewed the lid and lifted it into the air in salute.
“Here’s to you, old man. I’m a lot like you were. You taught me how to be a man. I’ve tried. I swear I have. Succeeded more than I’ve failed…” he let the thought trail off as he considered his own life, wondering what this man would have thought of the twists and turns it had taken, the choices he’d made. Then, he laughed almost bitterly. “Enjoy yer rest while ya can. Won’t be long ‘fore I’m joinin’ ya there. ‘Less’n I’m destined fer someplace a bit further South.”
Chuckling to himself, he took a sip of the strong brew inside the flask, before dumping the rest over the top of the grave in tribute.
“One last drink together,” he muttered.
Standing, he walked back toward his horse. He never looked back. He knew he’d be returning soon enough.
Old Man, Neil Young
Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.
and there's so much more
Live alone in a paradise
That makes me think of two.
Love lost, such a cost,
Give me things
that don't get lost.
Like a coin that won't get tossed
Rolling home to you.
Author's Note: This is written so that it could be read as either Teaspoon visiting Polly's father's grave or Jimmy visiting Teaspoon's grave. If you read it as one, give it a try thinking of the other. See what happens.