Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.
It was something that his grandfather had always said when the sunset warranted it, and even though the old man transposed the order, Frank Shepard saw no reason to change it. He watched the sun as red as an Atomic Fireball begin its decent behind the Catskill Mountains and his mouth began to salivate as he imagined plucking that candy-coated confectionary sun out of the sky and plopping it into his mouth. A memory came back of him and his younger brother trying to best one another as to who could keep that candy in his mouth longer. Frank could almost feel his eyes begin to water from that hot cinnamon candy almost thirty years dissolved. That memory was soon forced out by a passage from a book, a book that been written almost two hundred years earlier, a book and a writer that he had been trying to forget. But no matter how hard he tried, watching that sun set, the words of Washington Irving invaded his thoughts:
Every change of season, every change of weather, indeed, every hour of the day, produces some change in the magical hues and shapes of these mountains, and they are regarded by all the good wives, far and near, as perfect barometers. When the weather is fair and settled, they are clothed in blue and purple and print their bold outlines on the clear evening sky; but sometimes, when the rest of the landscape is cloudless, they will gather a hood of gray vapors about their summits, which, in the last rays of the setting sun, will glow and light up like a crown of glory.
Washington Irving may have ruined his life, but Frank had to admit that he was spot on when he was describing the Catskills. He wished he could blame a long-dead 19th century writer, but if he was going to go that route, he would first have to blame George Washington for starting the story, FDR for once again making it a popular topic, his grandmother for having been the one to first tell him of the legend, for that matter, he might as well blame nature itself for having formed the silhouette of a sleeping man in the ridges of the Catskill Mountains. He would have loved to have been able to blame someone; but he knew that he had only himself to blame. He inhaled deeply on the cigarette he was smoking-figuring it was the only way he could actually kill himself-as he listened to the crickets. In a few more days, a week tops, the chips will be less frequent as the cold weather began to settle in.