Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Entry #17

The Bus Stop Encounter
by Robert Ball


The bus shelter, urine smell and all, offers Joe respite from the November tempest. Wind blown clouds play tag with the full moon causing an eerie slow motion strobe-like effect on the adjacent urban park.

“Hey mister can you spare a dollar?”

Startled, Joe whirls around toward the shelter’s darker end.

“Whose there?” He challenges, hands reflexively clenching into gloved fists.

“Just a war vet down on his luck. I don’t mean nobody no harm or nothin’.”

“And just what war might that be buddy?”

“The Nam” replied the bum limping slowly forward.

Emerging from the darkness, the old veteran stops, revealing a collection of tattered rags clinging to a battered pale body. An oblique checkerboard of moonlight and shadows crisscross his crippled frame.

“You too have the signs young man. A soul-damaged look straight from hell itself!”

“Yeah, Iraq, another godforsaken war”, sighs Joe.

Reaching under his coat, Joe pulls out some bills. Extracting a five he hands it to the old man, then turns to look for the bus.

“Not God, but the self-righteousness of man brings about such wars, and thanks. Oh, your wish is granted.”

“Wish. What wish?” Says Joe turning back, but the bum had vanished!

Hearing a rush of steps, Joe turns again and collides with a petite figure in an oversized hooded coat. Slender fingers push back the hood revealing a brown-skinned angel in a nurse’s uniform! Mutual apologies flow while they stare into each other’s eyes … followed by shared smiles.

24 comments:

Jim said...

A 'genie' in bum's guise. I have to admit - the ending was rather amusing.

BoFire said...

Te spoils of war. Well written.

Scott said...

Hmmm. Maybe I should start protesting the war...

robert rohloff said...

Where is that bum. I want a wish. Good story.

Jer said...

I do love a happy ending.

k. lawson gilbert said...

- a modern day fairytale done very well.

Bonnie Cehovet said...

Quite an engaging story. However, I am a "Nam" era vet myself, and shuddered at the "old vet" image! ;-)

anne frasier said...

i agree with k. lawson gilbert -- very nice modern fairytale! i like that the old vet -- oops. sorry, bonnie! -- could be an older version of joe.

Robert Ball said...

Bonnie, sorry about the "old" reference. I'm a Vietnam vet myself, and at 61 don't know if I'm still middle aged or have slipped into the "old" category. However, I wanted to make the contrast with Old and Young between the two characters with out stretching all the way back to Korea.

Robert Ball said...

jim: thanks, I wanted to portray an upbeat tone at the end.

bofire: thanks, some wishes, even unconscious ones can come true!

scott: Yes, the angels (of all colors) are out there waiting.

robert rohloff: Feel free to conjure that bum up in another story!

jer: Thanks, I usually stick to writing the "Happy Every After" kind of story.

k. lawson gilbert: Thanks, I was striving for the fairytale feel.

anne: Thanks, maybe that should be "middle-aged vet".

Again, thanks for all of your kind comments.

anna said...

(sigh) what an ending! Nam stories always leave me a little weepy. Glad it had such an upbeat finish. Good read!

Tangasaurus Rex said...

I loved it. The political undertones with a hint of religon, just tells us to look around at our fellow man, and do the best we can for each other while we're here. Loved it.

Joni said...

I can't help but love a guardian angel type story. Nice.

Bernita said...

A vet as a fairy godmother.That is interesting.

Lisa said...

Never know what an act of kindness will bring you! I loved the imagery you've created. Cute story.

Robert Ball said...

anna: thanks, it's not easy to juxapose Nam and upbeatness.

Tangasaurus Rex: Thanks, that was a point that I was trying to make.

Joni: Thanks, me too.

Bernita: Yes, there are all type of "fairy godpersons",

Lisa: Thanks. Kindness without any expected payback is one of the best acts a person can perform.

Again, thanks for the comments. Also the stories seem to just keep coming and coming. Great efforts and great reads!

Linda Fort-Bolton said...

I liked the way you integrated the characters. ALL veterans, ALL wars.
"Just a war vet down on his luck."
What a strong Sentence.
Good writing.

Bofire said...

A soul damaged look straight from hell.
You said it all, Robert.

fringes said...

I love angels of rescue...

Bhaswati said...

An interesting take on the subject of war. Nicely done. :)

Robert Ball said...

Linda Fort-Bolton: Thank you for your observation.

Bofire: Yes, as Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman said: "War is Hell".

fringes: I like to put angels either human, heavenly or demonic in my stories.

Bhaswati: Thank you for your observation. I was striving for a Rod Serling's Twilght Zone approach, especially along the rythm of the early episodes.

Thank you all for your comments. Also the great stories keep on coming. Poor Jason, its going to be tough picking winners!

Flood said...

Very fun story, Robert, with a good message about being nice to those who may end up being cute. Haha!

Fran Piper said...

Very good story!

Re the "old vet": most street people age rapidly, so he could look very old without actually being so.

jason evans said...

I hope someone is looking out for all these people who have suffered in war. I liked the optimism expressed here.