I began writing a story with the opening and closing scenes. This was my closing scene.

He was now done looking at the photo. There was nothing he could do about the past. Nothing that could be accomplished by staying here depressed. The house was empty and cold. He would leave soon. The new owners would be there in an hour or so. They would certainly throw the photo out. He remembered something. Walking to the back closet he opened the door and reached behind the middle shelf to the familiar niche. Sure enough, the humidor that he had the workmen build into the closet was still there. Reaching in he was surprised to find a handful of his cigars still there and surprisingly well preserved. Doing what had been unthinkable when he was the “man of the house,” he bit off an end, and sitting in the lone remaining chair in the foyer he lit the cigar and began to smoke in the house. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” Janis Joplin had said. Well, he was free.

Stepping out the door the wind hit him. The air was colder than the house. As he closed the door behind him he stepped carefully on the slippery walk and headed to his waiting car. A life was over, the sadness of walking away was matched by his determination to find some way to begin again, even at this late point of his life. He would not be beaten, he would find a way. In the end, we are who we are. There is normally just too much inertia in our direction to change our course. And yet sometimes, those rare beautiful sometimes, we find a way to rise above ourselves. Perhaps we transcend our humanity or perhaps, just once in a while, we become fully human. The way God intended before the fall. The engine started and the car pulled out into the street and drove off into the falling gloom. Life for Chamberlain had both ended and begun. He was free. He had nothing left to lose.

Some people think Malcolm may have done nearly everything in his life. It is not true, he is just interested in everything and knows how to tell a good story.

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