Last winter the Serbs had positioned themselves just off the coast and bombarded the town. They’d done it in retaliation for the Croats disabling a patrol boat. His neighborhood had been hit and there were burned out houses around. A few hours earlier, as the sun set, he was down on the shiny black breaker rocks picking up heroin syringes. There was no reason to do it, but he had filled a small plastic sack and then dropped it in a refuse barrel on the path home. A vague idea had occurred to him that his son might come across one, but that was next to impossible, more likely the cleanup loosely fit into his belief that the world was doomed, and by bagging the needles he was touching the sadness in his own small way. He imagined a garbage man pricking himself with a HIV-tainted needle. By next week there would be ten needles for each one he removed. One good deed was countered by two bad ones. One needed only to open their eyes. Yet, hopelessness was not enough for him to stop going through the motions. It was just that he needed a realistic philosophy to function. He welcomed people to be false and uncaring in their own lives, but he was determined to protect his unique perspective. At night before sleep came over him, it was all he had.
It was getting on midnight as he thought about his wife deteriorating, slowly cracking like concrete sprouting weeds.