Joy and gladness shall be found therin
Thanksgiving, and the voice of Melody...

                                                 Isaiah 51


After it is done, he’ll decide when to take his own life.

Back in the heat of summer he had already planned it. The deed was all but decided until one afternoon, Vera Evans approached him after work, impressing on him how glad she was he had come to their farm. And how glad she was to see him every day. Anguished, she had pulled him into the house and given him a yellow layer cake with chocolate icing. She told him to take it home to his wife.


“I really want her to have this now, Chris, and you tell me how she likes it, okay?”


The cake was thrown in the kitchen garbage can.


He had sat in the living room in the dark, listening to my radio playing from in the bedroom. I can’t do it, he had thought. He survived the long Sunday, and was back at work earlier than ever Monday morning. At lunch time, his heart leapt when he saw Vera walking to his truck.

There is always that vague fearfulness before a reunion, that it'll fall short
of expectations. But they had to restrain themselves. Smiling. Laughing. Looking like they wanted to take a day trip together to be alone, to walk and talk privately. And not once for the rest of that day did he think about the little gray house. Or of its thin, sick prisoner.


Maybe Vera Evans had kept us both alive.


But that was months ago.


He steps out of the truck into the late December afternoon. The weather is just cold enough to foreshadow the coming winter. The sky is as clear as glass, and the sun burns like a ball of fire at the bottom of it. The world above him is already a deeper blue. After sunset, the west will tinge pale orange from end to end. 

He is an executioner. Charged with carrying out this evil. But even the condemned get a last meal. And perhaps a last glimpse of the sunset.


The house looks uninhabitable. At sundown its hard to imagine a living soul would dare try to spend a night here. The closer he gets to it, the colder the world seems, and the more terrified he becomes.


The Fear of Death.


It is universal. Except to those who have gone ‘round the bend, to where the insane gather to whisper promises of another world. But when the pain of living is long and heavy, death reaches out, extending an icy hand even to the normal and well adjusted. Their delicate balance may become overwhelmed, until they begin to wonder about the Unknown Journey.


And there are those who have been a victim from the beginning, who once craved life and the joy of living, but have reached the end of the proverbial rope. To them, the long road is a dead end, leading only to a fearful place. The only place they can go. The place where they belong. It pulls them, it draws them like a magnet. And then the terror is two fold: there is the fear of living another day—


And the greater fear of death itself. One they are willing to confront because it is singular, and will end in due time.


Christopher Adam Peele walks in terror. Towards the only escape from the pain of living. Towards the evil in the gray house, which had sought to destroy us from the start, and has brought us to the end of our long, dark journey.



His breath quickens with every step. The cold he feels is as much from the evaporating sweat as from the energy he tries to deny.


It’s just a house…


He knows, he feels, that there might be an unspoken, undealt with truth about his own existence—


That he is alive, because I am alive.

He fumbles with the front door until it is unlocked and opened. The
dreary space feels like a chamber of horrors, with its ancient wooden floors and aged walls, gray with a century of misery.




One pair, heavy and clunky, slicing through the walls with force and power. The other, light and fearful, drifting pitiful weakness into the cold air. The air in the house is poisonous. It has the sickly sweet odor of death. Usually he goes straight to the kitchen to rest. To sometimes cook and eat dinner and read the newspaper. He’ll think about his Lady, and how he wishes things could be different. Every once in a while--and he hates himself for this--he will imagine, or even desire, that John Evans was out of the picture. What he feels for Vera is deeper than infatuation. She has kept him alive.


But this, he had decided, was the prisoner’s final sunset.


In fearfulness, Chris unlocks the bedroom door--


And there she is, waiting for him.


Oh, the curse of humanity.

                                                                                                       The Farm Girl's Opera
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