by William Schoedel

He came upon me suddenly
Before I could retreat
His long lean figure
Wrapped in an abused overlong grey coat
With a shock of nearly pure white hair
Tumbling from beneath
The confines of a tattered woolen cap
Like just so many flecks
Of windswept cloud
Or snow.

A quick nod of his head
Was all he offered me
By way of greeting
Yet managed to convey
Without the waste of a single word
How he truly wished to share
Much more than a silent hello.

“Bond’s the name,” he began
Charley Bond.
Know the store in Boston by the name?
Brother owns it
I once worked there
‘Fore my eyes gave way.”

“Glaucoma,” he explained
In answer to my gaze.
“Don’t mind it much
But it makes my walkin’ hard.”

“She’s born in Phoenix.” He informed me
As I reached to pet his dog
A frisking small white poodle
Like a fragment of his hair

“Fourth in a litter of six she was
Born a purebred.  Got good blood
Say her daddy was a champion
She’s good to me. I like her company.”

He jabbed a bony figure at my camera
“Used to live in Dallas
‘Fore I went to Nashville
Had a camera shop there
Man what owned it
Ran on hard times
Owed me money
So he give me the shop instead
Used to work that shop alone
Knew all the rigs by name.”

“Started on the Dallas Times
So’s they called it then
My first real job as pro
They sent me on assignment
As assistant
Coverin’ a high society weddin’
Remember it like yesterday
Ol’ head man I was workin’ with
He had them all lined up
In their white suits
And dresses there before him
And dropped two packs
Of number two Apex in the slot
Didn’t have no flashbulbs then
Used a powder charge instead
Well, I knew right then
It was way too much
And I told him out my mind
But he just said
You’re bein’ paid to help, not criticize
I’m the head man, you’re my aide
And he flashed it off
And covered them all
With thick black soot
From head to toe
Like tar babies all!
Ol’ headman
Didn’t keep that fancy job
Too long.

From this here twang I got for accent
Bet you’d never guess
I come from round these parts,
But course I do!
Got my roots sunk here
Up New Hampshire way
Way on back to Revolution days
Once belonged … brother still does
To the Keene New Hampshire Legion.
Used to dress up fancy
In full parade regalia
March in all parades
And town occasions
Fine group we was!
Too bad I don’t meet with them no more.”

Charley’s dog, impatient, tugged its leash
Went nosing into flowers
Sheltering by a shed.
While Charley stood there
In melting snow
His hair tossed gently by the wind
His feet in tattered boots untied
His face unshaved
His flesh all red and puffy
His eyes set far away.

When suddenly
He shook himself
Or shivered.
“Guess it’s time we was  gettin’ home.
Ol’ Donna must be gettin’ hungry.
Aren’t ya girl?
Never smart to keep a good girl waitin'”
And he winked to show his humor.

At the corner
Charley stopped
And glanced back once.
Then raised a hand
In half salute
… to say good bye.

About the Author:

William J. Schoedel is a 73 year old married man with an unwanted Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, who loves to write Poetry and Short Stories, and has several poems and 13 completed stories with 6 more in the works, a few of which have been read by friends and family with enthusiastic feedback. He had never been published, except for one small article in a Muskegon MI newspaper.