The fog rolled over the railroad tracks where the old man lived his whole life. The tracks were old, rusted and grass grew high between the rails. They were abandoned and hadn’t been used in many years. His ancient shack was a stone throw from the rails, the paint long gone, the place barren and weathered, and just beyond his yard was an old train depot where the travelers unloaded their luggage looking for a better life.
The sagging porch had missing planks and boards so rotten you dared not walk upon them. There was a time when hand-built rockers graced the columned porch and the old man used to sit with his two hound dogs. He would always reach down from reading his morning newspaper and scratch each one behind the ears letting them know it was okay when people came to visit.
He had found the two hounds as puppies left behind on the tracks just past the creek where he fished. He was retired after forty years working at the depot for the railroad. They were that reddish yellow color that hounds often have. He picked them up and put them in his truck. He thought they would make great companions for his twilight years.
The next morning, he got up early and cooked them thick ham biscuits with cheese grits for breakfast, starting a ritual that lasted many years. An early meal for the hounds, hot coffee for him and they loaded up the truck and took the long way to the creek to do a little fishing. After lunch, they would ride to town and eat at Ray’s BBQ and Beer then hit the backroads and ride with the windows rolled down.
This was what they did every day for many years until one October morning. The house was quiet that morning and the hounds got restless and started licking his face trying to wake him up, but he wouldn’t get up. They knew that he was gone and heartbreaking howls went through the house. They were sad, afraid, and alone laying there until late afternoon keeping watch on their old friend.
Ray came by when they didn’t show up for lunch and found the old man surrounded by the hounds. Ray called them out and they just stood in the yards hugging each other with a trembling and shaking of their bodies. Ray took the hounds home with him and they slept on the floor by the fireplace. They were quiet and would not eat.
The old man was a Veteran and had spent many years working for the railroad. The cemetery was filled with people that the old man knew over the years and called him friend. The dogs sat by Ray still holding each other and howled a sad song as the honor guard played Taps. Ray loaded them into the truck, and they took the long way home remembering the old man.
The two lived a long life with Ray and were buried in the Coon dog graveyard in Alabama. They left many great memories for Ray, and in the end, it is all that is left.