From Thanksgiving Night by Richard Bausch
On the other side of the radio station, on a small rise of ground, a strip mall that was built ten years ago languishes in weeds and wild flowers, crabgrass and dandelions; it’s shut down and boarded with postings advertizing commercial space. The postings are wearing away in the weather.
Beyond the strip mall is a small used-book shop called The Heart’s Ease.
Take a look at it now: this charmingly derelict-looking place, its windows stacked with the sun-faded spines of volumes, one on top of another as if they had all been arrested in the act of crowding to the openings to breathe. The paint is peeling on the porch, and the color of the trip is the exact shade of old paper. If you were to characterize the store or make a simile out of it, you might say it’s like an elderly man nodding off to sleep. It faces into the sunny lots across the way, the gravel road veering off to the left, toward the century-old brick-making factory, with its five house sized stacks of new red bricks, and its weirdly attendant-seeming next-door neighbor, the ancient clapboard relic of a church, white-steepled Saint Augustine’s. The church is a historical landmark, and is flanked by a shady lawn dotted with gravestones, carved dates, and inscriptions going back to the eighteenth century: BELOVED MOTHER; WITH THE ANGELS; LOST TO US….
On Main Street, just now, the sharp shadows make pretty angles. You feel, gazing upon the scene, that you saw it somewhere in a painting, if only you could remember which one. It’s three o’clock in the afternoon. Th end of August. Stillness. Not even an airplane in the sky. Some celestial creature landing here might thing the whole world was a quiet place, deserted or abandoned.
But now a little wind stirs; a scrap of paper rise in the street, and a camp bus full of alter boys from Saint Augustine’s comes rumbling along, followed by an old Ford pickup, covered in dust, which turns off onto a side street. The radio is on loud in the truck, an evangelistic rant, a frantic baritone crying the terrors of a thousand years.
It’s the dog days of summer nineteen ninety-nine. And God is coming. (pgs 4-5)