No One Dies Alone
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The moonlight glimmered off the wet asphalt, reflected off the rain puddles scattered across the roadway. The wind lightly blew across the town, barely picking up a single leaf on the dead, brown, grass. The citizens of Treynor welcomed the new rainfall, the six hours of nonstop rain that had already occurred seemed like the town's relief it desperately needed. The farmers hoped this would bring life to the croplands, which was full of cornstalk that had all wilted or died during the early summer drought. As the clock reached 11:30pm, a man walked out of the town's local bar wearing a jet black suit jacket and matching dress pants, carrying a brown duffel bag with a gray sweatshirt and pair of blue jeans in it.

The man reached into his left pocket, hoisting his bag onto his right shoulder, and pulled out a box of cigarettes. He pulled his lighter from his right pocket, and pulled a cigarette out of the box with his free hand. When he stopped at the main intersection of the town, he tried to light it, only for the flame to die out in the rain. He muttered to himself, and continued to walk down main street.

His mind raced from topic to topic on the walk home, all while his formal wear was getting slowly more and more drenched. His leather dress shoes splashed water all over his ankles, and the man continued to think about everything that lead up to here. Had all his life really led up to him being stood up in his hometown's local bar? He kept walking, his past mistakes and choices piling up inside his conscience, then suddenly halted. He looked out at the town's graveyard, and decided to pay a quick visit.

He walked past the rows of gravestones until he found the one he wanted to see. The one tombstone that looked the most run down of all of them. The name was barely legible, for the low maintenance this one got. All that could be seen was the years, "1922-1973", etched into the stone slate. The man knelt down on one knee, and solemnly put his hand on the top right of the tombstone.

"I'm sorry Dad…" The man whispered, a tear forming in his eye.

The man began to cry, as he continued to mutter to the gravestone. "I'm sorry I don't visit all that often… you know the religious folk never saw eye to eye with us. I would've buried you out back, but town hall wouldn't give me the green light. I'm sorry I let you down, even on your last wish…" He muttered, his tears becoming more and more frequent.

His tears rained down onto the ground, seeping into the dirt. After he finished his apologizing, he pulled out a cigarette. "This… this is all I can give you. I'm sorry I don't have anything else…" He said, resting the cigarette on the base of the headstone.

As the man went to stand up, he caught a glimpse of his old high school. Seeing the building reminded him of all the problems he had growing up. His benign existence granting him no validation. All he was, was a loner. He drifted through those years alone, those four damned years with no one paying any attention to him. Every attempt at notoriety, every attempt at human validation, all taken and crushed like a damn insect. This town was nothing but hardships for him and his dad, but they never left. They couldn't.

His remorse and shame quickly boiled over into anger while continuing his walk. He was one the town's three Vietnam veterans, and the only one to have made it out alive. While the other two were mourned, he was hated. While before his time in service he was called a "nobody" or a "loner", when he had returned to his town expecting a celebration like the one welcoming World War II veterans back, he was yelled at. His former classmates threw trash at him, calling him a "psychotic baby killer". When he had returned back in 1973, all he was greeted with was his terminally ill father, bedridden and losing the fight against lung cancer.

His father didn't want to be buried in the town's graveyard. He didn't want the religious treatment. And he couldn't even give his father that.

When the man opened the door to his house, he threw the duffel bag at the wall in a fit of rage. Tears streamed down his cheeks, as he hurriedly lit a cigarette to try and calm his nerves. He saw a small, steel box in the corner under his desk. He knew that it was finally time for him. No one would notice. No one cared about the so-called "baby killing psychopath". No one cared about the loner. No one cared at all. He opened the lid to reveal a .357 magnum revolver, with three bullets in the box.

Loading the cylinder with a bullet, he put the barrel to his left ear. All his events in his life, all the events that proved his isolated and benign existence raced through his head. He shed one last tear, as the trigger pulled. The gunshot echoed throughout the wilted cornfields and the empty streets, but just like the man, was unheard. But yet, whether from incompetence or luck, the bullet missed his brain, leading him to bleed out.

The man laid on the ground of his home, his head bleeding out like a broken faucet. He was dying. Alone. Just like how he had lived.

The town continued as normal for a week, but at noon of the next Saturday, people started to note how the man hadn't been seen in a week. The town's mechanic realized he hadn't come to check in on his car, as he normally had done every day since it got wrecked. The manager at the town's gas station was suspicious why he had missed a week's worth of work. The town's grave-keeper had mentioned a cigarette appearing on the man's father's grave.

The bartender, mechanic, gas station manager, and grave-keeper all went to the man's house, where they knocked on the door. There was no response. Then, the bartender the gunshot. The shot that echoed throughout the empty night a week ago. The mechanic slowly opened the front door, where they saw the man's corpse, with blood splattered on the walls and rats munching on his rotten corpse. They stood in shock, and grabbed the corpse. The grave digger returned to the graveyard, and began to dig the newest addition to the town's field of corpses, while the mechanic went to inform the mayor of the most recent death.

The funeral was small. A couple former classmates and the four men who found his corpse were the only ones attending. But after the man's funeral, he was quickly forgotten. His house was sold, his name wasn't mentioned. And just like his father's grave, it became so rarely maintained that all that could be read was "1949-1976".

The man's spirit still lingered, seeking out those who were like him. Those who were forgotten. Those who were going to die alone. He visited deaths of every era, to be there for the person about to die. He knew what it was like to die alone, and didn't want anyone to suffer the same fate. All he could do is pull out a cigarette from his front pocket, and be there for them. He had died alone. No one should have to suffer the same fate. He watched over those near death who were outcasts like him, and he always reminded himself of one thing:

No one dies alone.

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