By the time my feet returned to earth, the billboard was fully engulfed. The embers of God and Country fell around me, silent, glowing butterflies of what could never be on a descent to dust, begotten carbon remains that were both poison and necessary for life.
Bill would be buried in the morning. The preacher would say some kind words, reassuring words, words to give Bill’s life meaning. He, entrusted most with the mysteries of life, would miss the most important part. Life isn’t full of trauma. Trauma is not a series of unconnected incidents that happen. Life is trauma. The world is full of demons to exorcise, but we aren’t running from them, instead we’re chasing them with a vile of holy water and a crucifix. The demons existed before we were born and they’ll exist after we perish, but if we’re lucky, we might nix one or two of those bastards in our lifetime.
Bill’s body would rot over years, remaining longer than needed, depriving and poisoning, as the chemical preservatives retarded decomposition. His fence, untreated and unfinished, already rotting, would be gone well before Bill’s corpse would be unrecognizable. His dream, left unfinished, will perish before his own memory. His dream that he tried to bequeath to me will never be mine, just as it was never truly that of any other. His dream, the American dream, is no more our birthright than it is our curse. It is a dream preserved in relics. I walked away from that billboard a hunter of relics, not to preserve, but to destroy.