In January 1946, Corporal Stuart Dulley was discharged from the United States Marine Corps in which he had served since September 1940. His wounded arm had healed as much as it was going to, which wasn’t much.

Other men at the hospital were aching to get back to something. Wives, jobs, hometowns. Stuart’s parents had died in an auto accident while he was in high school, and the aunt with whom he lived afterward had died of cancer during the war. He had no brothers or sisters, no cousins. The town he had grown up in held no allure. He changed out of his uniform and folded it away into a carton. He had nowhere to send it, so he left it under his bed.

In the Corpus Christi bus station he had purchased a ticket to San Francisco for no particular reason. He climbed aboard the bus as soon as the driver opened the door. The bus was empty, so he had his pick of places to sit. He settled into one of the comfortable seats in the center of the bus.

At his feet was a new valise he had bought at the Corpus Christie Kresge, along with three pairs of underwear and two pairs of socks, a toothbrush and a comb. That was the extent of his belongings.

He wished he had remembered to buy a book. He had never been much of a reader, even in the hospital, but he figured he may as well start. Reading would be a good habit.




Sunday Photo Fiction


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  1. JS Brand

    Terrific writing, even if I’m going to be depressed as hell until I find something to cheer me up. Being thankful that I’m not Stuart Dulley might be a good start. This begs for a follow-up, although it’s hard to believe there was anything positive waiting for this poor soul.

  2. Joy Pixley

    Such a quietly sad portrait of loneliness, and the challenge of being free but truly directionless. I was relieved to see that it ended as positively as it did; I was expecting worse. Reading is an excellent hobby, and gives me hope. And maybe he will find a direction, too; making any choice at all — even just to get on a random bus — is a good start.

  3. neeltheauthor

    This is one of your best story stories so far not because it boasts of great vocabulary or some fabulous philosophical edge hitherto untapped but because of its acute simplicity. I have already begun to love this character as whatever little you have written of him has whetted my appetite. This sounds like a great start to what could become a larger fictional piece, possible a novella, or even a novel. Well crafted and congrats, Mr Hardy.

Don't just stand there.