he told stories

he’d tell these stories to ’bout anybody who’d listen to him…give him the time of day…in a crackly voice he’d talk ’bout old times when he was a kid in this town…’fore the McDonald’s went up…’fore they got a second traffic light at that four way stop out towards the end of town… back when the fire department was made-up of volunteers and the Sheriff’s Deputy walked up and down the two sidewalks that went through downtown…past the barber shop…the gas station…City Hall…and a Baptist church made out of fire and brimstone…

big American flag waved on sunny days and cold nights…you could hear it’s metal cords flappin’ ‘gainst the steel pole as the winds kicked off the lake…he said he didn’t mind the clankin’ noise…put him to sleep sometimes…said he could hear it when he kept his window open and cool air swept through a non-air-conditioned house…a steady beat in the midst of silence…sometimes you’d hear a dog bark…

so…he told these stories…seemed to be happy at the time he’d tell ’em…but when you walked away from him and on into the evenin’…these tales would take on different meanings…

stories ’bout adventures…’bout boys takin’ walks down railroad tracks waitin’ on the train whistle to wail…some wild tales of campin’ out under the viaduct with new friends he’d made who were just passin’ through town…carryin’ duffle bags with ’em and sharin’ smokes as they talked ’bout places like Los Angeles…Portland…Denver…movin’ from town to town in the middle of the night while most of America was fast asleep…

and he’d talk to anybody’d that listen…sat right there in front of the five and dime just rattlin’ on…him and his walkin’ stick…bouncin’ the end of it off the sidewalk…talkin’ ’bout the past…just talkin’ ’bout the past…he didn’t offer anything ’bout the future…no fortunes told…just long gone stories of livin’ in a small town…that’s all he knew…that’s all he knew…

goodnight Pete…

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