He picked up the crumpled map from the floor. Once more, he spread out the paper and studied the itinerary. Disgust, frustration and trepidation gave way to diligent concentration.
With his calloused finger, he drew a line from his origination point to the final destination. As he moved, he lingered at each intersection. Every crossroad presented a short cut, detour or roundabout, all a chance to turn back.
“If I went here…” he mused, “it might be easier to get…here.” The old country song line ‘How many roads must a man walk down?’ trickled through his mind. Like a tune played too many times, it spun just under the surface of his turbulent thoughts.
He took note of the symbols on the map. Signifying eats, parks, museums and such, he cast them off as minor distractions. “Man does not eat by bread alone.”
Things were almost set in place, the vehicle, his luggage, clothing, all in the driveway ready to go. Time stood still, waiting and watching, like a vulture savoring the death of its prey. “It will be good to breathe again” he muttered.
His finger stopped midway in the journey. He’d been there before, on the rooftop of the tallest building in that city. Power and pleasure of life beckoned with a supreme cost. ‘‘No” he whispered, “I won’t be tempted.”
After that city, the highway changed to a two-lane road. The dangerous and untamed country-side held hidden obstacles. Few services were offered, so he made a note to fill-up the tank in the city. “No wait! Just on the outskirts. There! That’s the spot near the gardens.”
The road twisted and turned, winding its way through the hills. He noted the road started to climb and read the key for the elevation. Ten thousand feet was a long climb, probably the highest in the state. A man could feel like a king looking down on all he owned. Another path of compromise he would forego.
He continued on with the route and found the spot encircled in red. The destination and final resting place where it would end. Only a hill compared to the mountain he would travel over, a small insignificant speck on the map that shall change his life forever.
He looked at the clock…..time.
Seconds ticked. Remembrances elusively drifted across his mind, moistening his brow and cheek.
The jangle of the keys in his hand broke his reverie. He looked at his whitened knuckles. “Oh yes, the keys,” and loosened his grip.
He turned to open the door and paused. His decision caused him to brood one more time. When he lifted his head, determination shone in his eye. The course was set, no turning back, no changing.
A man with single-mindedness of purpose designed the route to take him further than anyone in the whole world. It was the trip of a lifetime for the lives of a time, a road of his choosing, “Take me home to the place I belong.”
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