You know how sometimes you stand on a beach and just stare out at the water, allowing your thoughts to emerge freely in no particular order? Some of The Old Man and the Wasteland is like that. It's part Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, part Daniel DeFoe's Robinson Crusoe, and part Richard Matheson's The Omega Man.
Forty years ago, the bombs from the Middle East fell on Yuma, Arizona. He used to have a name, but now he's known only as "The Old Man." And today, he started a walk-about into the wasteland – what used to be called the Sonoran Desert.
It's a good time to reflect about the past (and time was one thing they had plenty of these days) – how everything deteriorated, how they got to where they're at. Scavenging and salvaging. That's what this is all about, these days. An abandoned refrigerator good for ice-making, a rusty contemplation-worthy sedan, a dead bee that hopefully can lead him to water, an old motel that survived on solar power all these years.
What adventure THAT was, the old motel, run by another old, albeit blind guy he dubs Mirrored Sunglasses, who tends an dried-out swimming pool devoid of anything but snakes – lots of hissing, deadly rattlers. It all goes to show you gotta heed the warning over the dusty bed. The one created out of phosphorescent moons and stars.
The walk goes on, thoughts so inconsequential crowding his mind, continuing even as he encounters a famished wolf pack and its powerful alpha leader, who himself is fighting back the advances of two youthful challengers. and then, treasure in a sewer – a cache, a life-saving cache, compliments of the U.S. Army.
The Old Man survives a flash flood and an extended encounter with Himbradda, he of the withered arm, leader of The People. Good. Because survival allowed The Old Man to reach Tucson, where he found some answers.
Nick Cole Kindle Edition ($0.99)