we're already ghosts

You’re always told this was once a nice place to live. A little gem along the Illinois River. Muddy and direct. Cut like a winding scar through the ancient earth of a Midwest dream. A nice place to live with its sad buildings of brick and mortar. Sometimes, if you look hard enough, you can still see old painted signs on the sides of these sorrowful giants. Temporarily taking you back to what you’re told was a simpler time. That’s always been a lie. Nowadays it’s all sprawl and the town has lost its luster. This gem has the bruised and tired face of a retired pugilist. Its eyes are devoid of life. Its skin leathery and taut. You can see it on the faces of the people. They’re worn out. Giving up. Even the trees seem to be bent in retreat. There’s no escape. This is the last thing any of us will see before we die. We’re already ghosts.

This isn’t the story of a dying town. That story gets old quickly. Every miserable metropolis or failing shithole across America has the same tired story. This is, instead, the story of a man. A husk of a man in a failing shithole. A man with bleeding fingers and torn nails from fighting the inexorable demise as he tries futilely to keep his grasp on whatever is left of the dream. He’ll never win but it’s the fight that keeps him getting up in the morning. The fleeting chance that something could happen. He had thought any willingness to hold on would have died with the sun. That the bottom would of dropped out from beneath him the moment she left. But, that’s yet another boring story. It is ever thus.

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