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Updated on February 23, 2016
Campfire in the Woods (J. Bernal, 1950)
Campfire in the Woods (J. Bernal, 1950)

An old man walking through the woods at twilight comes upon some campers by a fire:

A young family of three, clad in pelts and deerskin sit huddled round the campfire to keep warm.

The wafting smell of roasting squirrel and rabbit reminds him that he hasn’t eaten in a long while.

So he walks into the camp and says “Good evening...I hate to ask but could you spare a bite?

I’m old and I don’t have that much to offer, but what I have is yours if you’ll be so kind.”

The old man bows his head...

And then the little girl says:

“Daddy look at that man’s pretty bracelet!” And her father says, “Sweetheart that’s a watch...”

The old man smiles and says “yes that’s right; it’s a watch I’ve had ever since I was a tyke.

I wear it to remind me of that time...though it stopped running when the battery finally died.

It helps me to remember how things used to be, because sometimes now it all seems like a dream.

But little one, if you like it you can have it—I’d gladly give it up for a bite to eat.”

The young man shakes his head...

And then the woman says:

“Mister you don’t have to give us nothing. We’ve plenty here and we’re happy to share with you.

It’s been so long and we’ve not had any company—Maybe you can entertain us with a story or some news.”

The old man sits down by the fire and says “Thank you! I’m much obliged, and will tell you what I know:

I’ve been wandering through these woods for a good many days, and you’re the only folks that I’ve found.

I came up through the city, but that’s no place to be: there’s not much of use there anymore.

The few that live there still are a cruel and dangerous lot—and I guess I was lucky to make it through with my life.

I went there hoping I might find some folks I used to know...but they’re gone like most everybody else.”

The old man shakes his head...

And then the young man says:

“Mister we’ve been living in these woods for years now—and there’s no one else anywhere near these parts.

My wife and I were just kids when it all came down. We found each other wandering alone.

For a long time we’ve waited for more people to show up, but no one ever has until now.

I’ve a feeling that you have a good heart. And I expect that you might know a thing or two.

Maybe you can stay with us and help us teach our daughter—the world we’re from is one she never knew.”

The young man pokes the fire...

And then the old man says:

“Thank you, yes I think that I would like that very much. And I do know some things that you might find of use.

I’ve been walking for so long now without any hope—but maybe things are starting to turn around....”


-From A Treasuretrove of Trash

© 2007 by JC

Listen to a recording of this song here (opens new window).


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    • Joyus Crynoid profile image

      Joyus Crynoid 4 years ago from Eden

      Thanks Marwan. I was quite moved by that book, which was one of the inspirations for this song!

    • marwan asmar profile image

      Marwan Asmar 4 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      It reminds me of a book I recently read called The Road by Cormac McCarthy where an apocalyptic picture of the end of the world is painted, one devoid of people, but the few that exist are simply on the road. Nice piece

    • Joyus Crynoid profile image

      Joyus Crynoid 4 years ago from Eden

      Thanks GuitarGear. I think we are headed that way and I agree it won't necessarily be a bad thing!

    • GuitarGear profile image

      Walter Holokai 4 years ago from Youngstown, Ohio

      Joyus, This story sounds like the result of a writing prompt from my Wed. Night Writer's Group. It's great. When I think about where the world is headed I wonder if a scene like this might not take place someday. Hopefully it won't be as soon as 2020 but when and if it does happen it might not necessarily be a bad thing. Thanks.