My Old Hickory Cane

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story about an old friend I seem to rely more and more on, and how I often take it for granted

Submitted: September 25, 2007

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Submitted: September 25, 2007

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My Old Hickory Cane

As I was walking home from the Legion on Saturday night, I started thinking about my trusty old cane that was providing the much needed support I seemed to need more than usual. I was pretty sure that the beer and Grand Marnier I had consumed contributed somewhat to my greater than usual reliance on my it. I began to wonder how many others had been guided and steered safely home in its long history.

It was a beat up old piece of hickory bought cheap for my friend Wally when he was first recovering from his stroke last year. It cost all of twenty five cents at the Salvation Army Thrift Store and served him well for the few months that he needed it. After a while, though, Wally no longer needed its reassuring support, and passed it back to me.

The cane has nicks and dents in it and looks as though it’s been around since Pontius was a pilot, or Pilate, whichever he did. Some of its scars are worse than mine, and I wondered how its previous owners could possibly have felt the need to abuse such a stalwart friend.

I was mentally chastising its previous owners and paid no attention to the group of teenagers hanging out on the street corner, about a half a block ahead near the Royal Bank. My mind drifted back to earlier when I had been discussing World War ll, life in general, and the younger generation, with an old vet named Henry I’d met at the Legion a few hours earlier.

As I approached the teens, I was torn away from my thoughts by one of the kids breaking away from the group.

"Hey Gimpy! Gimme a cigarette."

Since I don’t exactly consider my self a gimp, just a little stiff at times, I ignored him and started to work my way around them.

"Hey, you old coot! I’m talking to you." This latest while he moves to block my path, his friends moving to assist.

"Actually, we could use a few bucks too. How much you got on you?"

Still walking around them because I’m a firm believer that discretion is the better part of valor, I continued in my efforts to pass them. I think it must have been the hand on my arm that set me off. Not only is that a serious violation of my space, it’s also assault. I don’t exactly recall turning to break the kid’s grip, or how the cane went from being an old stick to a weapon to be avoided, but it happened.

"Thwack!". I could almost hear fingers breaking in the offending hand that had moments ago been gripping me like a talon. "Thwack!". Boy these kids are slow. I bet that knee is going to be sore in the morning. "Thwack!". Why would that dummy try to kick me when I have this thing in my hands?

And there it was. An opening for me on the sidewalk wide enough for a Sherman tank to pass through, as the kids, continuing with greater threats than before, dispersed across the street.

I picked up my glasses that had taken flight moments before, and after repositioning them, checked my cane for damage. I’m pretty sure one of my swings had connected with a street sign at the corner. There was one new scar, showing the white heartwood underneath the old stain and varnish. It looked pretty much like all the other scars on it made by its previous owners.

I made a silent apology to the cane’s previous owners for being so quick to judge, and continued on my way wondering what had caused that really ancient and deep scar near the handle. That must have been a real shindig.

s v ertl 630


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