Finch Park

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a short vignette, the first of a project I am working towards titled "Simple Stories for Simple People."

Finch Park

 

It is late fall and dirty leaves litter the ground. The trees stand bare, gnarly and crooked, exposed. A dirt path winds its way through. The path is dotted with puddles, the smell of rain still lingering in the air. A rusted fence parallels the path. Benches are scattered along the walkway. The wood is scarred, tired, saturated from the storm. A large man sits alone.

 

The bench bows under his great weight. Drinking coffee and staring blankly into a newspaper, his wet cough permeates the otherwise serene park. The man pays no mind to the wet bench. Water seeps through his khakis and underwear, coating his fat bottom. Bending, to reach into a paper bag that rests between his legs, a roll of flesh consumes his beltline, folding over the leather, advancing like a wave.

 

It is early and cold, but he wears a short sleeved polo, faded gray with a worn logo covering his left breast. The soles of his shoes are noticeably flat, having buckled under his great weight. After retrieving his breakfast he sits back up, his flesh receding, revealing black leather once again. He begins to eat, shifting his weight, the soft wood bending to his subtle movements. He chews. Indifferent.

_______________

 

From a distance Ed sees the man sitting alone. Ed knows it’s him by his size. He begins to creep forward, the mud-dirt path resisting what’s left of his tired wheel. Rust holds his chair together. The fabric of the seat is worn thin and the foot rests are missing. Ed reaches behind his back, feeling for a yellow cloth bag (as if someone would be so inclined). The bag holds little, if anything. Most visible is a book. The book isn’t for reading. It fits well into the yellow cloth bag. That’s why Ed has it. That’s why he’s kept it all this time.

“That sure looks like Cav. Sounds like him, too.”

The wet cough pierces Ed’s ears. He presses on, wet dirt collecting on what’s left of the rubber wrapping his wheel.

_______________

 

“Mornin’ Cav.”

“Ed.”

“Sure looks like rain.”

“It already looked like rain.”

“Sure.”

“Breakfast?”

Ed reaches into the bag and pulls out a greasy sandwich. It’s the only thing he’s eaten today and the only thing he ate yesterday, and so on. Ed doesn’t eat with ferocious hunger. He eats slowly. Dignified, with purpose, setting the sandwich down in between bites.

_______________

 

“Six months tomorrow.”

Ed turns his head towards Cav, setting down his sandwich, recognizing his statement.

“Sure.”

Ed sits quiet, looking at Cav’s feet, staring at the thin soles of his shoes.

_______________

 

Thirteen months prior Cav had taken to the drink. Heavy, and without particular reason. Nights at home with his wife were replaced by long stints on bar stools. An insatiable thirst had overcome Cav. One night, while finishing a 12-year Macallan, his wife left for the store. They told Cav it was nearly instantaneous. And it was an honest-to-God accident, a simple matter of poor footing. Nothing more. 

_______________

 

Ed didn’t press Cav. This had been their routine for the last five months or so. Ed knew right that Cav was inconsolable. Cav’s guilt was heavier than his weight. But his drinking didn’t matter anyways. It was a matter of accident. 

“Ed, that book, y’ever read it?”

”No, no. Found that book ‘bout, uh, three years ago now. Found this yellow bag with it, too. Used to be much yellower, of course.”

“Sure. What is it?”

“What’s what?”

“The book, what is it?”

“Oh, sure.”

Ed reaches behind his chair and extracts the book from the yellow bag. Cav sets his sandwich down, accepting the book from Ed.

The title, read aloud by Cav, said The Odyssey.

The Odyssey?”

“The Odyssey.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, it’s like a trip. An adventure.”

“Oh. You ever read that?”

“No, s’pose not. I guess I never was much into books.”

(Neither was learned in that particular way.)

“Read some to me? A page.”

“Settle for a piece?”

Cav opens the book, the rigid spine giving way rather easy, and begins his recitation, as though he’s read it before.

Now in turn the gray-eyed goddess Athene spoke to him: Telemachos, what sort of word escaped your teeth’s barrier? Lightly a god, if he wishes, can save a man, even from far off. I myself would rather first have gone through many hardships and then come home, and look upon my day of returning, than come home and be killed at my own hearth, as Agamemnon was killed, by the treacherous plot of his wife, and by Aigisthos. But death is a thing that comes to all alike. Not even the gods can fend it away from a man they love, when once the destructive doom of leveling death has fastened upon him.

_______________

 

At this Cav stopped, clapping the book shut and passing it back.

Ed nodded and removed the book back to the yellow bag.

Neither spoke. In their silence the rain began to fall, coating both men.

_______________

 

“Move along now, Ed.”

Ed began to turn, his chair set in the mud, taking his feet to push himself out of the rut he’d set into. The rain fell harder yet as he pushed himself away.

“Yes, moving along.”

 

The End


Submitted: December 02, 2013

© Copyright 2021 Brian Johnson. All rights reserved.

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Criss Sole

I really liked the descriptive language you used. I could picture everything very clearly.

Sat, December 7th, 2013 4:21pm

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Short Story / Non-Fiction