Trust No One, Promise Nothing
The last gravestone, set further apart, read Jack Lee—Gone to Hell.
Monty thought of all the horrendous things he had heard about this man whose headstone marked him as the Devil’s own.
He only felt contempt for Jack Lee, a man he’d never met.
Realizing he could have been the one who grew up in this godforsaken place, he was grateful he hadn’t. His home was only a mile up the mountain. All it took to leave this scorched, wretched place was to walk up that winding overgrown trail, just like his brother had done so many times before.
With the image of his parents and Ray pulling at him, he turned and began his final trek towards reconciling with them, hoping for their forgiveness.
Even though masses of tangled vines, spinning and twirling around the thicker foliage, blocked his way, Monty’s heavy Army boots stomped through the deep undergrowth while he pushed and pulled the wild vegetation apart with his bare hands. He labored up that challenging trail until, at last, he stepped into the open area he had often dreamt of.
The fallen log silently waited for him to take his usual seat where he and Ray had spent hours laughing and joking, back when things weren’t so complicated.
Monty had much to think about. He needed to process the tragedy at the Lee’s burned-out cabin and the shocking deaths of the family he would never know.
He wondered how Mom and Dad would react to his sudden appearance. Would they be happy to see him? Would Ray? Monty hadn’t seen him since that terrible night in their dad’s study when Monty had shamefully stormed out.
What would Ray do when they finally came face to face?
“Ray,” he said to himself. “It’s a good name. It fits him.”
With only a few more steps, he could walk past the garage and reach the front door of his parents’ farmhouse. He would finally be home. Instead, Monty chose quietly, sitting on the old log covered in fern and lichen. He treasured the sounds of the rustling forest, with its little animals scurrying back and forth in its tree branches. Inhaling its rich, earthy aroma, he enjoyed the feel of the crisp, late afternoon air that spread its chill as the temperature dropped.
It was his favorite time of day.
Watching the Sun’s low light break through the trees above him, it splashed its soft rays across the beautiful woodland floor, filling his spirit with the peacefulness of this special place.
Their special place.
Enjoying a moment he would never have again, Monty took comfort from the words of Alexandre Dumas, his dad’s favorite author. He would simply "wait and hope."