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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Old Man and the Boy

The boy didn't really know how old he was. Maybe mid 60s or so. He was dirty....really dirty. But the first thing the boy noticed about him was the limp. From a block away he could see that neither foot was working quite right and that the man was limping pretty badly. His trousers were too short. Way too short. And he was headed up the hill with a box. A pretty good sized pink box with a lid on it. One foot would drag and then the other with his arms wrapped as far around the box as he could get them. The boy glanced out his car window as he passed the man trying to get a better glimpse. The boy had learned his lessons several times in his life by not helping people when he thought he should have. This time would be different. He spun his car around a few hundred feet past the man and headed back. He pulled alongside the man in a mud puddle and lowered the window of his expensive car fitted out with all of life's fineries...leather, Bluetooth and all the rest. It didn't really fit into this neighborhood so well. "So, how far ya goin'?", the boy yelled over to the man. "Oh, not far...just up to Albertson's with these cans." "Cause I was thinkin'," the boy continued," that if you were heading a long way down the road that maybe you'd like a ride." "Well, that'd be pretty good, I guess," the old man muttered. The boy had a hard time seeing into the man's eyes. The man's glasses were thick and scratched like an old 45 that had been played way too much. One earpiece was missing.

The old man stepped into the mud puddle and then right onto the expensive floor mats of the car. The boy doubted the man had been in such a comfortable car in quite some time but doubted that the man gave it even a second thought. The big pink box of aluminum cans rested squarely on the old man's lap. Filled with mostly completely empty Hamm's beer cans -- some of the cans leaked out stale leftover beer onto the car seat. "I just got out of the hospital," the old man continued....."Fell on my head and like to have split it open." "Wow, that sounds pretty bad," the boy said. "Yeah, I got out this morning," said the man. They passed through a busy five-way intersection bantering back and forth about not much of anything. "You can just drop me right here at Albertson's," the man said as he pointed his filthy dirty finger at the grocery store. The boy steered the car to the side of the road and the man opened his door and got out. "Thanks for the ride," the man said. "Hey, yeah, no problem...have a good day," the boy said trying to get a look into the man's face.

The door closed on the car and the man shifted the box in his arms to get a better grip. He never did look at the boy in the face -- always keeping his stare out the opposite window and into the late winter afternoon. The boy reached into the back seat and grabbed a rag to wipe off the stream of old beer that was running down the leather seat of the car.


Greg said...

interesting. Is this a real moment, or the start of a story? Either way, that was nice of the boy.

annie said...

sniff.....this reminds me of walking the streets of portland, picking up cans and what-not to recycle. i don't recall annyone ever picked me up, but the "not lookin square in the eyes, but looking out the opposite window"...yeah, i identify.

Evol Kween said...

Some nice writing there

Anonymous said...

Wow! I feel like that's really good writing. Right now I am taking a Creative Writing class; I feel like we would read or even write something similar to this! Very nice! Good story...I especially like this part:
"The man's glasses were thick and scratched like an old 45 that had been played way too much."


Anonymous said...

a wonderful tale told gorgeously!

Laurie said...

Ok...Did you do that to that boys
car? HA!! Just kiddin...
Did you do that :)


Ultra Dave said...

Very nice! You could give Anne Rice a run for her money!

Ur-spo said...

I thank you for sending me heads up on this one.
I apologize I have taken so long to get to it - but I got to it, and was glad to do so; it was elegant prose.
thank you for sharing it.