Your eyes are drawn to toys along the curb – most in usable condition. Clothes piled into garbage bags – most still in fashion. Lawn chairs still in place. Then your attention is turned toward the house and a front door that is wide open. The cold bitter wind of disappointment blowing in. Knick knacks, bric- a- brac, plastic sacks evident to the curious eye. You walk inside. Family photos of happier times – birthdays, holidays, and vacations - strewn around a house that is no longer a home. The smell of cooked food still lingers in the air. The clock on the wall stopped at 12. It all leads up to one troubling conclusion – the inhabitants had to get out in a hurry. Unfortunately, this scene is still all too common across the land. The American Dream has turned into the American Scream. And after what seems to be an endless series of downsizings, you begin to wonder about the things you've left behind.
The criminal element leaves behind their bread crumb clues. They leave behind their fake ID's, their fake passports, the weapons, the disguises, their fingerprints, their DNA, their victims. They leave behind mothers who will steadfastly believe in their innocence even when guilt has been proven.
41 year old Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Farve teases football fans at the start of every season. Will he or won't he play another season? Well eventually he won't. Even the grand old man himself, George Blanda who played until the ripe old age of 48 was forced to leave it all behind – the blood, the guts, the glory, the concussions, the teammates, the injuries, the wins, the losses, the screaming coach, and the fans.
And what happens to the things accumulated over a lifetime of accumulating when one can no longer rage against the dying of the light? Of course it can be passed on to heirs who may or may not appreciate the value of a mounted moose head. The IRS may step in and take possession of the things left behind, because even in death the tax man cometh. Sometimes the most valuable "stuff" is sold at an estate auction. The highest bidder will be awarded the things left behind and at a future date perhaps, the cycle will be repeated. The eyes of the moose head surely looking forlorn at that prospect. Sometimes in lieu of an auction, the deceased's possessions are sold at a common variety garage sale.
I once found myself at one of these "sales". What was left of a man's life was displayed on tables outside a residence that had clearly seen better days. You could infer that it was once a grand, stately mansion that had fallen along with the neighborhood into a sad state of deterioration. On those tables were books, old National Geographic magazines, old suits, plumbing supplies, a few tools and odds and ends. My eyes were clearly drawn to the odd - a jar of instant coffee. Now me being me, began to see the absurdity of it all. Who sells used coffee? , especially a jar that had been opened and consumed at least a little by a man who was no longer among the living. But being a fan of the theater of the absurd, I sought to make an absurd situation even more so. I asked who I perceived to be the dead man's relatives the price of the instant coffee. They quoted me a price which I deemed "absurdly" high. I then found out that even the price of dead man's coffee was up for negotiation. We agreed upon a price. I took the dead man's coffee home and made a cup – lots of cream, no sugar. I drank the dead man's coffee and it was good.