Shawn Van Horn
I read that they’re finally tearing it down. It has always been there, way before I moved here, way before Ike’s interstate changed everything. It was a place of brief respite for others but for me, the battered and withering staggered shake siding, with its cherry paint peeling like a sunburn, was a beacon marking a journey’s end. I stopped across the way today and took it in one last time, seeing it for the first time, a building hugging the highway so tight, that it’s a minor miracle some screaming truck didn’t destroy it long ago. It’s a relic now to everything that’s been lost. The solo gas pump out front, its sides giving up and falling off, exposing the rusted geared guts inside. The tattered remnants of pennants hanging from the awning like chipped teeth. The wooden menu nailed to the exterior with the picture of the clown, years of dirt wiping away his sight, so he could not see that no one had come by for years to buy the treats he once promised to all. The broken neck antenna still survives on the caved in roof, a cross receiving signals from the heavens that will not be heard. The curtains are pulled over the grimy windows, keeping the secrets of the ghosts buried inside. Many summers ago they dug up the parking lot, replaced it with a patch of bare grass nothingness, surrounded by a white fence whose paint always stays fresh. What are they trying to keep in? Or out? The yellowed signboard is still there, propped up against that fence, the aged letters clinging on behind the fractured glass. NO EXIT. GO BACK. I have never been able to decipher the code. And now it’s leaving, a memory like a phosphene ring, that I’ll only see if I squeeze my eyes shut hard enough. When it’s gone, how will I know I’m home?
Shawn Van Horn is a published short story writer and poet currently living in small town Ohio. His work has appeared in Our Time Is Now, Wilmington Blues, Fourth & Sycamore, The Oddville Press, Adelaide, Every Day Fiction, The Mark, Remington Review, Vaughan Street Doubles, and littledeathlit. He has also written two novels that he is currently seeking representation for (which is probably the whole reason why this website exists) and is currently working on a third. He dreams of fame and fortune, but will be okay if he has to just settle for a life spent pursuing his passion.