Grand Canyon

Garry Crystal

Grand Canyon

How far would you go to stop the corporate destruction of something you love?

It didn’t creep up on him unnoticed as it did for others who found themselves in this situation. Isolation isn’t generally welcomed as a lifestyle choice for most and usually only comes to people in the later years, when friends have dwindled and family visits grow less regular due to commitments or travelling distance or other unoriginal excuses. This wasn’t the case for Burdon Warwick, who could still, at 33, be regarded a young man. Seclusion, isolation, living a life within only the walls of his house was an actual choice, one that he had imposed and one that he came to enjoy when he eventually realised that he hadn’t left his home in years and had no intention of doing so anytime soon.

Not many people could afford to live like this, thought Burdon, they probably wish they could live as I do.
This wasn’t an excuse or a justification he used to convince others that he actually liked living this way. Burdon had no need to convince others because in his world, there were no others.

And it wasn’t as if Burdon lacked intelligence. Due to his abiding passion for self-analysis he was fully aware of why he had chosen to cut himself off from the rest of the world. He knew exactly the root of what others, if there had been any others, would likely call his ‘condition’.

When Burdon was 13 years old a three week family vacation to the Grand Canyon had been planned. Unfortunately, only a few days before the trip was due to take place, he had contracted mumps. The child watched from his window with a burning combination of almost unbearable anger and sadness as his father, mother and two brothers, Sven and Humphrey, jumped into the gleaming new pick-up truck with the rented jet-ski strapped to the back.

There was going to be no trip to see one of the wonders of the world for Burdon. No jet-skiing on the world famous lakes and no sight-seeing in Colorado. All of the activities, which the family had planned together in detail for what had seemed like months, were now lost to Burdon. Instead, the boy was confined to the house with his elderly aunt who had arrived with board games, knitting, a copy of the TV Guide and a constant need for sleep.

A week later, his father arrived home alone with news of the incident that would indelibly stain the rest of Burdon’s life.

The family had been picnicking near the edge of the canyon one morning with the intention of heading off to a nearby lake to use the jet-ski. When it was time to leave for the lake Burdon’s mother cleared the picnic items and then began arranging the boys for a family photograph while Burdon’s father went back to the truck to fetch the camera. His father had faithfully promised Burdon more than once that he would take plenty of family photos during the trip.

Once in the truck Burdon’s father thought it would be an idea to drive forward a little. As he recounted the story later to his son who had asked why he had started the truck, Burdon’s father said he had no idea why he had chosen to do this. It may have been because he wanted to point the vehicle in the direction they were to be going or to warm up the engine, he simply couldn’t remember. What he could remember was the heavy thump as the front wheels of the truck slid into a hole and the sharp sound of something snapping, as if a tightly wound steel cable had been cut. He had then placed his foot on the accelerator to push the truck forward and out of the dip in the ground. The truck lurched upwards, to the left and quickly forward. In that same moment Burdon’s father heard the deafening screech of metal and then silence.

When Burdon’s father got out of the truck he found himself alone, staring at the panoramic view of the Grand Canyon and the immense canvas of blue sky. For a second, he had said, he couldn’t comprehend what was going on, as if his family were playing some incredibly well thought out joke on him. Both the jet-ski and his family were gone.
“I knew what had happened, I knew immediately” said Burdon’s father, “I just didn’t want to believe it.”
Burdon’s father had sat beside the edge of the canyon for the rest of the day, through the night and for much of the following day before he eventually sought help.
“It was you Burdon,” he had said to the boy, “when I remembered you I knew I had to move.”

What Burdon remembered most about that time and what stuck in his mind as if he had heard it only yesterday was a comment made at the wake after the funeral. As he wandered from room to room among the family mourners and friends, trying to find a space away from the people that he did not know and did not care about, and who did not pay much attention to him except to give a pitying smile when he passed by, he overheard two men talking, discussing the accident.

He recognised these men as salesmen, work colleagues of his father and standing next to the men he watched as one took a bite out of a sandwich. Large slivers of grey shredded beef fell from the sandwich onto the floor as the man spoke, “To call it majorly unlucky would be an understatement.”
The other man, who was having trouble supressing his laughter, downed his drink and replied, “You got that right. I guess you could call it a tragic boating accident at the Grand Canyon.”

By the time he had reached the age of 18, just after the death of his father, Burdon had not only become financially independent but independent of anyone. The money from his father’s will and the sale of the house was more than enough to tide him over for a few years without employment. This wasn’t however, to be the end of the increase in Burdon’s finances. Ironically, for a man who now did not communicate much with anyone, Burdon had made a killing from an investment in an internet start-up company that specialised in social networking. When his money had grown to the point where he felt safe enough, Burdon began making plans.

By the age of 30 Burdon had removed himself as far as he could from his home town in the US. He bought a large house on a large island in Europe, a beachfront property that overlooked sand dunes that were, from what he had read in the sales blurb, of unique scientific importance and of unparalleled, breath-taking beauty. When he had arrived at the house he was surprised to find that for once, the photographs and clichéd text in the sales brochure weren’t lying.

From his large front window he was greeted each day with an immense sky of ever changing colour and miles of golden sand dunes that stretched to a cliff before plunging dramatically to another beach and the sea. Every morning and every evening he would stand at the window to witness the sunrise and sunset as another day began and disappeared. Sometimes he would stand at the window for hours watching the colours of the sky and sea change minute by minute. This is a place, thought Burdon, where seasons actually exist.

At first the changing seasons unsettled him. He didn’t want to be reminded of time ticking by. He wanted, at best, a perpetual similarity, a place where things did not change. In the end, Burdon recognised that the seasonal calendar was a small price to pay to live in a dream of his own making. The illusion of control was enough.

It was the delivery man who alerted Burdon as to how others in the nearby village viewed him and to a disturbing fact – one he had never, no matter how much self-analysis he had undertaken, considered.

On the last Saturday of every month Burdon would receive his groceries from the village supermarket. His online order never varied and all that was required to receive the groceries was the simple click of a button. Burdon paid his bill online and had sent an email to the store informing them to leave the groceries at the door, and for years this system had worked. There was no need to make small talk with the delivery man and no need to have any other interaction in this process other than the click of a button each month.

Today, however, the grocery man lingered at the door, as if waiting for something. When Burdon approached the door he saw the man’s blurry body through the frosted glass panel, peering in, his hands against the glass. When Burdon was less than a foot from the door the man knocked loudly against the glass.

“Are you there?”
Burdon remained silent, unsure of whether or not to make his presence known.
“I can see you,” shouted the man, “I know you’re there.”
Why is he encroaching on my life? The rules have been set out, this shouldn’t be happening, thought Burdon.
“Things are happening, big things,” shouted the blurry figure through the glass, “you need to be aware of what is going on.”
Burdon forced himself to speak. “Just leave the groceries and go. I don’t want any trouble. I don’t need to…”
“You are there.” The man said quietly with a hint of surprise. “Look, I know you don’t like to be bothered by people but we need to talk? It’s important. I have a message. I have information that pertains to you. This is affecting everyone.”
By now, both Burdon and the man were less than 10 inches apart, separated only by the thin, frosted glass.
What could a grocery man tell him that would be of such importance?
“I’d like you to go please, just leave.”
“Not until I have told you what is going on.”
This isn’t right, thought Burdon as he backed away from the door. There are rules. I don’t have to deal with this.
“Just leave the groceries and go. I’m not continuing this conversation.”
“It will only take a few minutes, please. This affects you.” Shouted the man.

Burdon retreated from the door, silently walking backwards, his entire body tense, his jaws clenched.
The man dropped his hands from the glass and turned to the side but didn’t walk away. Another figure appeared at the door.
“Is he there?” Said a second man.
“He’s not going to discuss it.”
“Did you tell him what’s going to happen?”
“I think he’s gone back inside.”
Burdon stopped and listened as the two men continued to talk.
“Look, just leave the leaflet. There’s nothing more we can do. He’s a recluse. We knew this wouldn’t be easy.”
The first man placed his hands against the glass again, “I’m leaving a note for you Mr Warwick, this is important. You need to get in touch with us, you’re the only one left who doesn’t know. There’s an email address on the leaflet. Please just read it.”
Burdon didn’t answer. He simply stood and watched the two men through the glass.
“Come on, I’m not standing here forever,” the second man said loudly, “He won’t be able to stay a recluse anyway, not for much longer.”
“Maybe once he reads the leaflet he’ll get in touch.”
“I wouldn’t bank on it,” said the second man as he moved from the step, still talking loudly, making sure Burdon would hear if he were still listening. “His type care only about themselves and then end up dying alone, so what? Why should we care if he can’t be bothered to even talk to us? Come on, let’s go.”

The first man stood at the door for a moment, sighed and then turned to go but then turned back and spoke quietly through the glass to Burdon.
“Just read the leaflet Mr Warwick. I don’t think there is much you can do but you need to be aware of what is going on. None of us will be here for much longer.”

It was at least an hour after this encounter that Burdon forced himself to move from where he was standing to retrieve his groceries. He wasn’t standing there for an hour to make sure the men were gone, he was standing there trying to make sense of the words he had heard the second man use –recluse and dying alone.

Obviously he did fit the actual definition of the word recluse but he had never thought of himself in such terms. This was now, he understood, how the world or at least the how the people in the village saw him but did this mean this he was actually a recluse?

I can only be a recluse, thought Burden, in relation to other people but if there are no other people in my life then how can I be a recluse? I am only a recluse to them and it’s only when they have had some contact with me that can they call me a recluse. If they had no contact with me they would not know me or anything about me and could not call me a recluse. If they have had contact with me then obviously I cannot be a recluse.

This line of thought ran through Burdon’s mind until he had exhausted all possible permutations, until he had satisfied himself that the word recluse would bother him no longer and was a label that did not apply to him.

Dying alone, however, was something that Burdon could not come up with a satisfactory explanation to or to why the thought of what this man had said had irritated him. This had never bothered him before because he had never thought about it before in relation to himself.

What difference does it make to the delivery man if I am to die alone? There’s no shame in dying, alone or otherwise. Why did he hurl this at me as if it were an insult, something to be ashamed of? And what does it matter if all I do is think of myself? Am I bothering anyone else with my life?

These thoughts spiralled in Burdon’s mind to the point where he became mentally frustrated to such a level that he punched the wall in front of him with enough force to make a sizeable hole in the grey plaster. The blood from his wounded hand flecked the edges of the hole, and wiping the wall with the cuff of his shirt only resulted in encrusting the blood stain deeper into the paintwork instead of eradicating it.

The leaflet from the village lay on the marble sideboard for two days before Burdon decided to read it. He had resisted throwing the leaflet into the garbage and instead placed it on the sideboard next to the window he stood at each day. For those two days he would glimpse the leaflet from the corner of his eye, picking up slightly more information each time he looked down at it. At first he could just make out the image on the cover, the image of a beach, the very beach he stared at each day.

This has nothing to do with me, thought Burdon as his gaze moved from the leaflet back to the beach, back to his beach.

Intermittently, throughout the two days, Burdon slowly pieced together the information from the front of the leaflet as if completing a jigsaw – the image of the beach and then the words ‘Thurrock Enterprises’ in red letters across the top of the golden sand dunes in the photograph.
Finally, Burdon picked up and began to fully read the leaflet after making out the words ‘Luxury Golf Complex’ just above the photograph of the beach.

It had been years since Burdon had actually used the internet for anything other than paying bills and shopping online, and as he typed the name Donovan Thurrock into the search engine he felt that familiar pressure on his chest, the anxiety rising once again as it had years ago whenever he connected with the outside world through this small portal that had in the past spewed out nothing but bad news.

Donovan Thurrock’s image appeared on the screen, a mountain of man with what looked like some sort of impossibly high, rigid hair and glowing ruddy cheeks. In the picture Thurrock stood on stairs leading up to the entrance of a private jet plane, the words Thurrock Enterprises emblazoned in huge red capital letters across the body of the plane, his arms outstretched above his head as if he were either being welcomed triumphantly or was setting off on a journey of some importance and saying farewell to an adoring multitude.

During the next five hours Burdon learned all he needed to know about Donovan Thurrock, a business man who had, it seemed, little originality but plenty of money to build hotels around the world, and now he was coming here, to Burdon’s home, to build a golf course, a luxury golf course.

What is the difference, Burdon thought, between a golf course and a luxury golf course apart from the fact that adding the word luxury means you can charge more money to use it. It doesn’t matter to me that a supposed better class of people are coming here in their ludicrous, brightly coloured clown-like clothes to play their imbecilic game. What matters to me is that these people are coming here, to my beach, to a beach that will no longer exist, people that I will see and hear every day from the moment I stand at my window, there will be no escape. The implications of what was actually about to happen, how his life was about to irrevocably change were still not fully apparent to Burdon.

To Donovan Thurrock, Burdon was an inconvenience at best and a nuisance at worst. To Thurrock, Burdon’s property and the surrounding beach were little more than markers on a board game. Unbeknownst to Burdon, his property had no future whatsoever. Thurrock’s plan was to eradicate it from the landscape to make way for a hotel, a luxury hotel.

At approximately the same time as Burdon was uncovering details that the golf complex had escalated from the planning to building stage Thurrock was making deals with local leaders, smoothing the way, greasing the palms and making promises of regeneration that looked good on paper but were little more than velvet soaked in snake oil.

Nothing was going to stop Donovan Thurrock, not the many protests that had already taken place against him or the fact that he was about to destroy an area renowned for its beauty and historical importance. To Thurrock, he was creating history not destroying it and as Burdon’s anxiety increased with each new discovery of the fate of the beach, Thurrock was adding a final touch to ensure nothing could stand in his way – the compulsory purchase of all beachfront properties.

“I understand that you are dismayed regarding the purchase of your property and I do sympathise but a fair price has been agreed upon. Our company has tried repeatedly to reach you regarding the sale prior to the compulsory purchase but to no avail. Mr Warwick, I will let the strong language and threats in your previous email pass as I know that you feel under pressure and apprehensive about leaving your home but I hope you understand my position and can at least be grateful that I am being more than generous with regards to this purchase, which will go ahead even if it means eviction. I hope it will not come to that and I hope that you can enjoy your last remaining days in your property. As you know the work has now started and I’m sorry Mr Warwick but there is nothing that can be done to stop progress. I intend this to be one of the best golf courses in the world, in fact I don’t intend it to be – it will be, and you alone cannot stop this.”

You alone cannot stop this.
Thurrock’s words became a mantra in Burdon’s head – you alone cannot stop this. He reread the email, picking out phrases and words that he thought Thurrock had deliberately written to humiliate him, to make him feel powerless. Thurrock was allowing him to enjoy the remaining days in his property, that progress could not be stopped, that he understood and sympathised over the pressure Burdon was under but that he alone could not stop this. Again and again he read the email, his frustration growing that there was nothing that could be done to stop this, that one man had the power to obliterate his life, to obliterate a landscape completely, quickly and with little effort or thought to others.
That he alone could not stop this.

Over the next few days Burdon sent Thurrock continuous emails, each one growing increasingly abusive. He criticised Thurrock for his unoriginality in business and the smallness of his mind due to a severe lack vision and imagination when it came to his business ventures, that he was a cancer of a man to be pitied rather than looked up due to his tiresome pursuit of money, his gargantuan ego. Burdon called Thurrock a vandal, a miscreant, a large man with small ideas and compared him to someone setting fire to priceless works of art in order to collect on the insurance.

On reading the stream of emails, a new one arriving approximately every two hours, Thurrock was at first amused at the meanderings of this mad man. He was more than used to dealing with such irritants and had easily disposed of many protestors and obstacles throughout his business career. Money was usually the answer to any problem that came his way and if that didn’t work there always more money and if more money didn’t work, well, this was business, and if he couldn’t buy them off then he simply bought those who could help to eradicate his problems.

But as the emails continued and the abuse grew, Thurrock began to simmer, turning the words of scorn over and over, and he then began to take slight satisfaction in imagining what he could do to Burdon. While sitting at his desk he pictured himself arriving at Burdon’s property, grabbing him by the neck, kicking him out of the door and off of the land while providing no mercy as Burdon begged for forgiveness.

Who was this man, this recluse he had been told, too scared to do anything with his life, who simply existed, who thought so little of the money he had been offered. Who was he to feel superior, above him enough to insult him professionally and personally, to call him a man of little imagination who was laughed at by those with real ideas and creativity? Now it was Thurrock who reread the emails and burned as the insults hit home, dug into his skin and inflamed deeply hidden nerves.

Burdon eyed the clock again as he paced his living room.
In little over an hour Thurrock would arrive at Burdon’s home.
The voice in his head was constant, intermittently changing mid thought from a pep talk to an inner howl of desperation and fear.
Keep it together, you can do this, thought Burdon. This isn’t me. This is not how I live my life. How has it come to this, I cannot do this.

For the last two weeks, since agreeing to meet with Thurrock, he had thought of little else.
Why am I doing this, he had asked himself, I can leave again. This needn’t be a problem.
The overwhelming impulse to give up and leave would only be quelled by looking out of his window towards the huge industrial machinery that was now being used to flatten the dunes. Although he had not yet left his home the work on the complex had begun. Each time Burdon’s electricity and water supply was interrupted due to the work, each time one of the huge diggers plunged its jaws into the ground, eating the beach, he felt a wave of anxiety that was soon replaced with anger, an anger that only made him more determined to stay on the path he had chosen. As each new day brought the disappearance of another piece of Burdon’s land another email was sent to Thurrock.

Thurrock filled Burdon’s doorway, obliterating the early evening sunshine trying to push in behind him. In the flesh he appeared even larger than Burdon had imagined from the photographs.
“Thank you for finally answering the door Mr Warwick. For a moment there I thought we weren’t going to get the chance to meet.” Thurrock said, holding out his huge hand to Burdon who ignored the gesture and simply replied, “We?”

Another man appeared as Thurrock inched his way through the door. He was smaller and younger than Thurrock but wearing the same pristine black suit and overcoat as worn by Thurrock.
“This is my son, he’s overseeing the completion of the work on the complex. You can call him Junior.”
Without even acknowledging this introduction Burdon turned his back, walked along the corridor and disappeared into the living room.
“Should we go in?” Said Junior.
“Son, we own this place.” Thurrock said calmly as he began to walk down the corridor and into Burdon’s home.

Thurrock found Burdon standing by the window, looking out at what was left of the beach.
“It’s progressing as you planned?” Asked Burdon without turning round to face Thurrock.
“Progress? Yes, we’re on schedule and we’re..”
“Sorry,” Burdon interrupted as he turned around, “I didn’t mean to say progress I meant to say destruction.”
“Really Mr Warwick, can I call you Burdon?” He continued without waiting for an answer, “I know your feelings on this. I’ve heard exactly what you think over the last month and it’s too late now, it’s over. Your feelings have been noted but it’s time for you to move on, as everyone else has.”
“I don’t want to move on. This is my home.”
“It was your home. It’s mine now, my land and soon to be my hotel.”
“Once you’ve demolished it.”
“Yes, if you want to talk frankly, yes, once I’ve demolished it.”

Thurrock sat down and took a bottle of whisky from the plastic bag he had been carrying.
“Why are you here Mr Thurrock? What exactly is it you want from me, you have everything.”
“Call me Donovan,” Said Thurrock opening the bottle. “Junior can you fetch me some glasses? I’m here because I wanted to at least try to set the record straight between us, to make you see that I’m not the ogre you’ve painted me out to be. I’m just a man, a business man looking to do some good, to create something that can be enjoyed for generations to come. I don’t usually do this, in fact, after reading your emails I was of a mind to simply have you thrown out of this property as quickly as possible.”
“I convinced him otherwise,” said Junior handing the glasses to Thurrock, “my father can have a temper sometimes and you certainly got under his skin.”
Thurrock shot his son a look of disproval, “Thank you Junior. But you can understand, i’m sure Burdon that the things you said, in the emails, would irritate me slightly and they did yes, slightly at first but I understand. Here, have a drink.”
“Thank you no, and please, do feel free to call me Mr Warwick.”

Thurrock sighed, stood up and walked to the window, standing beside Burdon. “That’s going to be giant sand pit by the edge of the cliff. The view here is, well, great.” He said, looking into the distance at the immense hole in the ground, which lay beside the edge of the cliff.
“Amazing,” Burdon replied, turning to face Thurrock, “how do you think these things up? Do you have a committee?”
“I know you think I’m a man little imagination.”
“It’s not a thought Thurrock, it’s a fact.”
“Well Burdon,” he emphasised Burdon’s name as if sneering at it, “I’m out there creating. I live in the real world and it’s men like me who make this world what it is. Once you’ve made any sort of mark in the world you will realise what that means.”
“You call a golf course creating? You call destroying a place with this much beauty making your mark? You are an imbecile Thurrock. You are what is wrong with this world, this is about money and your inflated ego and nothing else. You are as fake as these frankly ridiculous boots you are wearing.”

Thurrock looked down at the red, alligator skin cowboy boots and then back to Burdon. He was about to say something then stopped, pursed his lips, his jaws clenched, took another drink and sat back down.
“Junior,” Thurrock said calmly, “could you get the present for Mr Warwick from the car.”
As Junior left the room Thurrock poured himself another drink and stared at Burdon’s back.
“I’ve come up against people like you before and usually they are far more powerful than you Warwick. What you seem to fail to realise is that you,” he said calmly, “are insignificant, you are spec. You are a fly that I’ve already squashed and you don’t have sense enough to die.”
Burdon turned to face Thurrock. “I pity you, as a huge number of people out there do, but you, Thurrock, don’t have sense enough to see it. Aggression and attack, that’s all you know but to most people you are simply a ridiculous excuse for a human being.”
Thurrock shot up from his chair, his face reddening, staring directly at Burdon.
“What?” said Burdon raising his voice, daring Thurrock, “what are you going to do? You know you seemed much larger when you first came here but now I can see that you are very small Thurrock, very small. Maybe those boots help you to be appear larger.”
Thurrock took a step towards Burdon.

Junior entered the room with a large bag strapped over his shoulder. “Here it is. I have the present.”
He stopped as the two men faced each other. “Is everything okay here?”
“Everything’s fine Junior, fine.” Thurrock said, breaking eye contact with Burdon. “Mr Warwick and I were just having a little heart to heart. Airing our differences. I was setting him straight so to speak. It’s fine. Give me the present now.”
Junior handed the long red, leather bag to his father, who turned to face Burdon.
“Now Burdon, this is just a little token,” he said with a smile, “something to remember me by. I hope you’ll appreciate it. Do you play?”
Thurrock took the leather cover from the top of the bag to reveal a set of golf clubs.
“No.”
“That’s a shame, you should consider learning. Maybe there’ll be a golf course near your new home. A great many deals have been made on golf courses. It’ll open up a whole new way of life for you, out in the sunshine, the fresh air, the great outdoors, nothing better.”
He stood with his hands on top of the clubs, silent, staring, waiting on Burdon’s reply. The only sound in the room was the tapping of his red leather boots on the wooden floorboards.

“Really?” said Burdon with a sigh, “this is the best you’ve got? I take it back Thurrock, to call you an imbecile would be to denigrate imbeciles. You are the imbecile’s imbecile. How many months did it take you to understand the rules of golf? You can leave now.”

Burdon walked past Thurrock, not looking at him, out to the corridor, out to the front door. As he opened the door he felt the cool air on his face and narrowed his eyes against the bright sunshine. He stopped for a moment, unsure, his heart beating rapidly but then forced himself to walk out of the doorway and onto the dunes.

Thurrock’s heart was also beating rapidly. His fists clenched, the anger rising up inside as he watched from the window as Burdon strode across the sand, past the diggers and stood by the edge of the sand pit.

“This guy is unbelievable Dad. Why are you letting him to talk to you this way?” Said Junior.
“Shut up.” Said Thurrock staring out of the window, drinking his 40 year old whisky.
“Let’s just get some of the security guys and throw him out now. You’ve already allowed him to stay longer than he should.”
“I told you to shut up. You think I can’t deal with people like him?”
“You don’t have to deal with him, that’s the point. You’ve already won here.”

Thurrock watched from the window as Burdon stood with his back to him in the distance, not moving, simply standing by the edge of the pit, his hands in his pockets.
He then licked his lips and downed the dregs of his whisky.
“I’m going to take the first drive on this course.”
He grabbed a club and ball from the bag and walked out of the room.

Junior poured a glass of whisky and stood by the window. He hated this business, he hated his father’s theatrics, his bullying business methods, his childish temper tantrums and stubborness.
He can be a world class asshole, Junior thought, but there’s nothing much that can be done once he sets mind on something.
He watched as his father strode out in front of the house and pushed the tee into the soft ground, gently placing the ball on top before taking a few practice swings. Apart from business, golf was his father’s passion, he spent most of his free time on courses around the world. This game had always seemed like a complete waste to time to Junior.
Grown men playing games, he thought, grown men.

Junior walked over to the now half empty bottle of whisky and poured himself another drink. He took a sip and walked back to the window to see his father striding purposefully across the sand, the golf club still in his hand, walking towards where Burdon would have been standing except that he could now no longer see Burdon.

“I shouted fore. I gave the warning, I shouted.”
Thurrock was bent over, lightly slapping Burdon’s face, trying to revive him.
“What did you Dad? Aim right at him?”
“I shouted fore, this isn’t my fault. It’s not my fault if he doesn’t have the sense to move.”
“Is he even alive?”
Thurrock continued slapping Burdon’s face.
“Yeah I think so, more’s the pity.” He said, looking around the apparently deserted area, checking for witnesses. “If he were dead we could have just thrown him in the sand pit, buried him, it would be like he never existed.”
Junior turned and ran back towards the house.
“I’m going to get the whisky, maybe that will help revive him.”
“Yeah you do that.” Thurrock said. “You do that.”

Burdon lay on the sand, listening. He listened to Thurrock’s breathing, felt the sting from Thurrock’s hands as he slapped his face, smelt the whisky, but still didn’t open his eyes. Thurrock lifted Burdon’s head, cradled it in his arms and began to talk in a calm steady voice.
“You know the problem with you Warwick? You’ve never had to struggle, never had to fight for anything, never tried to do anything with your life but you still think you have some sort of right to have your say against people like me. I’m a creator Warwick and you, you are nothing. I know you can hear me, I know this is sinking in to your pathetic little head. Here’s a lesson from someone who actually matters. People need something to fight for, to fight against and I provide that, I understand that, and I’m happy with my role. But people like you, who have went through their entire lives without something to fight for or against, you simply end up fighting yourself, and that always makes my job a hell of a lot easier.”

Burdon felt Thurrock stand up but still made no attempt to open his eyes. He remained still even as Thurrock began pulling him into a sitting position.
“You decided to fight once the game was over.” Whispered Thurrock as he slid the body of the golf club under Burdon’s neck.
“I told you that you alone could not stop this,” he continued, as he used the shaft of the club to pull Burdon up by the neck and into a standing position, balancing Burdon’s body against his and then slowly moving forward until Burdon was hanging freely over the side of the pit, suspended by the club under his the neck, “and you never could.”

As the cold steel pressed deeply against his throat, Burdon Warwick opened his eyes, instinctively raising his arms to grab the club, to stop Thurrock’s stranglehold. But almost immediately Burdon stopped struggling, let his arms fall and listened, not to Thurrock, but to the sound of the wind and the waves crashing on the beach below. Lowering his eyes he looked out over the beach below him, the beach that would now never change, and smiled as the sun sparkled and grew brighter against the immense canvas of blue sky.

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Grand Canyon, 10.0 out of 10 based on 9 ratings
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About the Author:

Garry Crystal is a freelance writer living in the UK. His short stories and articles have appeared in print and online including Expats Post, The Andirondack Review, Turnrow Journal, Roadside Fiction and Orato. His first book Leaving London is available on Amazon and other retailers now. View My Profile

20 Comments on "Grand Canyon"

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  1. avatar TJ Lubrano says:

    Really, really great, Garry. I loved the switch between Thurrock, Warwick and Junior. Their perspectives and feelings. You captured that brilliantly. I agree, those boots are not lovely hehe.

    And that ending…didn’t see that one coming at all. It fits though. Just like that beautiful picture. :)

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  2. avatar Dani Heart says:

    Wow… I did not see that coming. lol I don’t know whether to be happy or sad… it’s kind of like that moment in The Dead Zone the movie. Well done. :)

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    • The Dead Zone? Is that the one with Christopher Walken? I’m sure i’ve seen it years ago and I was trying to go with a weird ending with this. I’ve not had so much fun writing a story in ages, probably because I was taking a swipe at a well know ‘business’ figure.

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  3. avatar TJ Lubrano says:

    I meant poster worthy.

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    • Ha, you used up all the comments in that thread, very strange that is does that on here.

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      • avatar TJ Lubrano says:

        I know! And I noticed the typo too late haha. I think you can put a limit on the replies.

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        • Strange. I know you can disable comments but not how to set them to unlimited or something like that. I never use wordpress apart from here. Not got a clue.

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          • avatar TJ Lubrano says:

            I first read “Not got a glue” and I was like, “Why does Garry need glue?”…but yeah, MZ can only change this I think. I have a limit of 10 replies on my blog, I think.

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  4. avatar Anya says:

    The ending was heart-stopping!

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  5. avatar Larry Conley says:

    This is writing as art!

    Fascinating Gary! Something I have yet to attempt.

    Thanks,

    Larry

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