First Page: True Horizon
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The red haze slowly began to dissipate from his vision. Heath Carter looked down to see his hands were no longer stained with the color of his sins. When the storm of emotions took over, it was always red that appeared; the color of love, the color of anger, the color of blood. The rage inside him was quieting down, but it would never go away. It kept faithful company with the guilt and sorrow that also would rise up without warning.
Seated on the floor, he took a deep breath and hit the volume button on his I-Pod. Highway to Hell blasted into his ears and overpowered the noise coming from outside his motel room.
“Fifty more,” he said and tucked his bare feet under the ugly floral chair. Sweat dripped from his body as he flawlessly executed the sit-ups. “Duty…Honor…Country.” He repeated the chant, his body moving in rhythm with words from another life.
Finishing in an upright position, Heath grabbed the towel hung over the arm of the chair and wiped his face. The air conditioning unit sticking out of the wall was humming its death throes.
The room was stifling hot, but that discomfort was nothing compared to the agony that awaited him if he opened the window to let in the cool night breeze.
Tonight, the town of Galveston was celebrating Independence Day. Fireworks were exploding in parks and backyards all over town. Heath knew that it would be over soon, but not soon enough.
Fourth of July used to be his favorite holiday. He remembered helping his Aunt Lynda place red, white, and blue bunting on their front porch. When he was young, she would take him to the afternoon parade. Then at dusk, they would set out blankets at the local park and watch the fireworks. Those bursts of light and loud bangs used to bring excitement. But to the man he’d become, they were now an instrument of torture.
Stripping off his sweat soaked shorts, he threw them on the faded carpet, along with his I-Pod, and walked the four steps to the bathroom. Heath reached into the tub and turned the cracked handle. Cool water streamed from the shower head and he stepped underneath its refreshing spray.
By the time he was finished, the fireworks had stopped. He looked at the small digital clock that sat on the bedside table – 11:50pm. It was time to go see what distractions this town had to offer. He pulled back his long hair and tied it with a worn strip of leather. As he opened the door, he was greeting only by the sounds of music and laughter.
Heath didn’t bother locking the door behind him. On the other side of the street sat a large, rambling building which was bustling with activity. The faded wooden sign attached over the door read –Breakers. Moving quickly across the busy street, he entered through the open door of the bar. The smell of beer mixed with salty sea air reminded him of the places he and John, his late brother in arms, used to hang out at back in North Carolina.