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[at-l] So, anyway...
So, I was sitting with my back against the split-rail fence in the front
yard. I was throwing a tennis ball against the limestone steps of the
front porch. As it bounced back, I imagined that I was Brooks Robinson
fielding every 'grounder' that came my way.
I heard a bit of a commotion from down the street. I turned my head just
a bit and looked through the fence. A man with a rucksack and a mutt were
walking down the other side of the street. The Mason's dog was barking at
them plenty. I kept throwing my tennis ball, but watched the man all the
As the man and dog walked by, I could hear him mumbling to the dog.
Talking like he was expecting the dog to answer. The dog never did, that
I know of. They made their way down the sidewalk, and I went back to
playing third base. I could hear the neighbors talking a bit, and
everyone was kinda watchin' without lookin'.
"Hey! Who is that?" Jimmy Shiflet asked in a whisper loud enough to hear
across the street.
"Never seen him before" I whispered back, motioning for Jimmy to join me.
"Tony Stratt's mom says he's been sleeping down at the railyard for three
days. He's a bum!" Jimmy informed me.
"Wow! I wonder where he's going. Look at those clothes."
About that time Mrs. Purtlebaugh walks out on the front porch with
lemonade. It still had lemon slices in it. I loved that. "What's everyone
lookin' at?" she asked.
"There's a bum over there" I said, pointing from behind the wisteria.
"Who said he's a bum?" she asked.
"Tony Stratt's mom" I told her.
"Everyone's a bum to Tony Stratt's mom. Now, you boys go on and play. I'm
gonna take our friend a glass of lemonade."
"You're gonna what? He's a hobo. He might be crazy."
"Crazy? My lands" she said as she made her way through the gate. Me and
Jimmy got behind our wisteria cover and watched in disbelief. Mrs.
Purtlebaugh walked right up to the man and handed him a glass of
lemonade. She stood and talked while he drank, and occasionally she'd
bend and pet the mutt. After a few minutes, she turned and headed back to
the safty of porch. As she passed us, still beind the wisteria, she said
"Hmmm, he's from Texas."
Well, a couple of days went by and the man and dog were seen about town.
I think folks were finally starting to get used to them. Jimmy said he
even saw them go into Skree's Diner. The novelty was wearing off.
Mrs. Purtlebaugh was cutting my hair on the front porch. We could hear
the Mason's dog barking and Mrs. Purtlebaugh said "I'll bet that's Mr.
Samson coming." Sure enough, in a few seconds Mr. Samson came into view,
his mutt right behind. Mrs. Purtlebaugh went back to cutting my hair.
All the sudden there was a loud screech. Things kinda stopped for a
second. Mr. Page's station wagon was sitting crooked in the street. Mr.
Samson rushed to the front of the car and bent over. When he stood up, he
was sobbing loudly, holding the dog close to his chest. He carried the
dog to the curb and sat down, crying all the while.
"Oh, my word..." Mrs. Purtlebaugh said, somber as the mood.
"It was just a mutt" I said.
Mrs. Purtlebaugh looked at me with a mixture of pain and anger and
sorrow. I had never seen that look before. "There's no such thing as
'just', when you're talking about a life."
(For Jessie H.
"Until we meet again")
Felix J. McGillicuddy
Stop and see me at: http://members.tripod.com/~Felixhikes/index.html
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