Sam Whitehead

The man who died laughing


 

 
The man was an ordinary man in most every way. He was an older white man with some of the health problems of his race and age but generally healthy. He was astute and lucky enough to be living in a small town in the mountains of mexico. Early every morning for exercise and for pleasure he hiked to the cuesta, the top, the crest of the canyon on the old but crude trail that led eventually to some outlying ranchos. At the cuesta it was his habit to rest, to relax and let his eyes run over the pueblo below and the small clearings of farmland in the thick green of the verdant oasis. He always brought with him an orange or two. He tossed the orange remains on the rocks nearby his chosen comfortably flat boulder. Every morning the peels from the day before were gone.
 
Usually the sun would rise clear of the eastern canyon rim soon after he arrived at his chosen vantage. Many things were thought of while the man sat and absorbed the warm rays of the sun and shape and colours of the plants around him. He would reflect on these things, letting all that he saw below him bring thoughts and inspirations of various qualities. He puzzled over what creature was enjoying his orange remains. There had been sign on occasion perhaps a deer but he was not certain.  Over the many days a certain closeness between the man and his beneficiary developed in the man’s mind. What a rich delight some orange peels with bits of fresh suculent flesh attached must be compared to the usual acrid desert fare, he thought. A number of things happened every morning to lead the man down different mental trails but thoughts of his nutritional compadre always contributed their share. He began to bring an extra orange to share with his compadre, cutting it up with his pocket knife and leaving the pieces among his discarded rinds
 
One morning the man arrived as the canyon turned into the sun and the sun’s rays warmed the man as he sat and checked to see if his compadre had eaten his oranges. The man  ate his orange and scattered the peels He was imagining a shy and contented doe enjoying them perhaps a rare desert bighorn sheep as he leaned back to relax and warm himself. He felt something move beneath him just before the two strikes jarred his spirit and his heart. One strike on his buttock and the second on the back of his neck. The snake too late rattled and hissed st the man, the snake tongue  parted lips devoid of friendship as it moved past an orange peel to the next and away.
 
There comes a time, the man knew, when the struggle is known to be just that, a struggle. The man could already feel his lips becoming numb and the living feeling disappearing from his legs. The border between death and living moved slowly up his back. He spoke his thoughts aloud, perhaps for his friend among the orange rinds to hear the man’s last words.
 
All the first aid crap is pointless and sucking out the poison would require a circus act.
 
The man watched his friend of the oranges slithering out of site and he smiled. A raspy laughter arose from him and he began to laugh slowly. It was the laugh of a man who has not laughed for some time, as hesitant and oxidized as a rarely used seaside gate. The laughter gradually found its voice, increased and amplified. The man roared and laughed, enjoying his ending. When his voice faded and his throat began to constrict he did not choke because he did not fight what was given him. It was a good death, a death just long enough to enjoy and his eyes stayed smiling till the last ember of light left them.  
 

 

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Sam Whitehead.
Published on e-Stories.org on 01.05.2012.

 

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