Mr. Brown

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: October 16, 2017

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Submitted: October 15, 2017

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Mr. Brown

By: Brent Schoffstall

 

Growing up in our suburban town, everyone had always heard the stories of Mr. Brown. He was always acclaimed to be a local eccentric who held no regard for anyone else. Anyone’s family who surrounded him knew the stories of the things he had done and believed them to be true. The warning I always heard from my own mother was this, “Mr. Brown is nothing but a bad influence, you’d be better wasting your life at the casino than speaking to him.” The problem was that nobody every truly presented any solid ground for why they disliked the man. I always assumed it was because he had a sour look on his face. But he was just one of those people that others generally seemed to dislike.

It was around the time I turned sixteen that I began to run into Mr. Brown frequently. There was a local park near where I lived with a small lake positioned in the very center, it was here that I began to frequent it growing up during a time when people began to appreciate the outdoors less and less. Anytime I went there during the afternoon, without fail I would always find Mr. Brown fishing in one of various spots he had decided he fancied. Without fail it was always some secluded bench perched away from people as far as he could possibly manage it. Robotically he would stand there casting the same lure on the same reel in and out over and over again for hours.

Finally, after about a solid two months of witnessing this behavior; I decided to approach him. I can remember the day very clearly, it was sunny in the odd way that even though the clouds shrouded the sun, it somehow still managed to find a way through to illuminate the world. The lake was very still and the only ripples created were from Mr. Brown’s lure hitting the water repeatedly on interval every minute or so. Watching him for a while, I finally mustered up the courage to quell my anxiety over approaching this stranger I had never spoken a word to.

I sauntered over to the bench and finally sat down next to the man of my childhood’s legends. I recall that he didn’t even look over at me or seem surprised when I did so. I hesitated to speak for what seemed like a millennium.

“You’re Mr. Brown, right?”, I said timidly.

“Yehp”, came the indignant response.

“So why do I always see you around here every day?”, I croaked hesitantly.

“Because I live here and I like to fish.”, which came with the first cold glare he bothered to aim in my direction. We sat for a few minutes after without acknowledging each other. He continued to fish and I continued to shut up.
 

Another two weeks passed by after that experience to lead me to the point where I felt as though I could approach him again. It was almost exactly the same weather, temperature, humidity and cloud coverage as the time I had approached him last. It came across as incredibly eerie. When I approached this time, there was no hesitation between planting myself on that bench and beginning our conversation.

“Be honest this time, why do you keep to yourself so much, and why the hell does it seem like nobody likes you?”

“Because I keep to myself so much.”, surprisingly, he spoke softly and without a harsh tone.

“And why is that?”, I chirped.

“I don’t even know how to explain that to you kid.” At the time I thought it was odd he would refer to me as kid. Later on, I found out that he was only a mere four years older than me.

 

Time passed once again, except during this time I approached him more; and he began to entrust me with more than two sentences of dialogue. Except, all of it was meaningless. We spoke more about fishing in those days and how he never seemed to be able to get anything to bite with that lure than anything of true substance. Once I asked him about how it always seemed as though there was odd weather when he and I spoke; and he couldn’t answer. It was by the time I turned 17 that I finally began to learn about Mr. Brown beyond his inane pastime of fishing or the odd weather that accompanied him.

I came to the park to find him once again, this time he was on an island that he rarely ventured to towards the back of the park. The island was lonesome, and the only people who ever visited there were the elderly smoking cigarettes or young families learning an appreciation for such a beautiful park. I crossed the wooden bridge towards the island with a reverence of sorts. It had become very personal to me over time as a place that I found Mr. Brown only appeared at in unusually grumpy moods. I did the usual posturing of walking up to his bench and sitting down.

“What?”, he asked, finally beginning the conversation for once.

“Nothing, I just needed some time away from home.”, I replied.

“Don’t we all?”, he said chuckling in a manic way. I found this highly uncharacteristic of him. The one person I could depend on in the world to be uncharacteristically insane and consistent at the same time was Mr. Brown. He sat beside me sipping an unusually fizzy bottle of Dasani water.  I had gotten to the point by then that I understood it was the classic vodka in a water bottle trick.

“You ever lose anyone close to you?”, He asked.

“Not yet, I lost a hamster once in sixth grade but I got over it a year later.”

“Let me tell you something man-the world is tough. It feels like every year you make progress towards something, it gets set back ten times further than it should have.”, I could only look at him quizzically as he began to carry on.

“You asked me once long ago why I’m always here?”, the manic laughter continued after his statement. “Well I’ve been waiting, for a long time.”

“Waiting for what?”, I replied meekly.

“Waiting for someone. And I’ve been waiting for a hundred carbon copies of that someone for a long time. But this time I lost the real copy of that person, and I know I did. Which makes it hurt a hell of a lot worse than it ever did before.”, and just like that, before I could even respond he continued. “I was always hurt in the past, I always thought I would be. But I didn’t see it coming this time-I always saw it coming.”, he stared into the distance weakly. At this point there was nothing I could say.

“She was beautiful, and she was kind, and she didn’t deserve what she got.”, He began to whimper. I saw him break down in tears in front of me, my only response was to sit there in silence and stare at the same redundant cloud coverage that accompanied him so often


© Copyright 2018 Brent S.. All rights reserved.

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