(brief renderings) Joe Fazio


For PaPa...With Love




The hobbled gait in the old man's walk seemed to
make him all the more vulnerable. An enemy of
the old, a bitter wind cut into him, causing him to
wince. The cragged face had a hundred lines etched
deep into the rawhide like skin. He was sick...dying.
However, when he walked, he was tall, erect, a proud
man, filled with a sense of dignity and clinging to
ninety six years of happier memories, of loved ones
long since past.

He was the last of a dying breed, a man filled with
honor, love and respect for a fellow human being.
They were rare qualities indeed, in a world where
such attributes were at a premium.

He made his way down the lonely, barren, beach
front walkway, the waves crashing against the
seawall. As he stopped, the hint of a smile appeared.
He gazed at the seagulls, swooping down and dipping
their beaks into the ocean, in search of food. The
wind, birds, nature, they were all his friends. Friends
that drove the loneliness from him. Here he was at
peace with himself and the world.

He raised a wrinkled hand to his face, rubbing his
eyes. His minds eye, capturing brief glimpses of
happier days; a wife, children and grandchildren.
The wife and children no longer of this world. The
grandchildren, scattered around the world, like
leaves blowing in the wind.

Reaching into his pocket, he took from it, a few
paltry slices of stale bread. Breaking them into
bird size bites, he cast them on the sand before
him. Then taking several paces backward, from
where the welcomed gift, that was now being converged
upon, by hungry gulls.He watched them eagerly
fluttering about the patches of bread, then swooping
up the pieces and flying off with their prize.

When the food was gone, all but one of the gulls had
disappeared into a heavy gray sky. The lone gull
seemed to stare at the old man. He returning the
strange encounter, as he thought; 'So, like me,
you are alone. I know how you feel my little friend.'
It was uncanny how long the old man and the gull
stood motionless, just staring at each other.
A Mexican standoff, as neither blinked an eye.

'I have no more food, ' the old man softly
whispered.
Hearing the voice break the morning stillness, the
gull cocked his head and if understanding,
squawked back in his direction, fluttered his
wings and flew off.

The old man watched the bird take flight and
thought, 'don't go so quickly, my little friend.'
With his eyes still trained on the gull, he
remembered the words of love that were once
spoken to him; ' don't teach me how to fly,
unless your willing to let me go.' He continued
to watch the bird and whispered, 'yes...yes,
there comes a time, when we must all
fly alone.'

He continued to watch until his feathered friend
was but a speck in the sky and then, that to
disappearing. His eyes locked skyward, straining
to catch one more glimpse of the bird. Nothing.
He shook his head, not wanting to accept it, as
he murmured; 'is that what we become...a speck
and then nothing? '

He thought about all in his life that meant so much
to him. All the memories. All the love. Could it
be, that all in life that was so very precious to him,
could be reduced to a speck and then nothing?
He was devastated by the very thought. He felt
a compelling urgency to reach out and assure
himself that surely, after so many years of human
existence, there must be something more.
He had lived his life with honor. Was his ending
to be the same, as those who lived their lives
for personal gain, without feeling or compassion?
Could the final ending for him, be the same as the
monsters of society? He paused, reflecting on
that frightening possibility.

Again, looking toward the sky, the waves crashing
on the beech and thundering in his ears, he was
suddenly filled with peace. He knew that surely,
there was more. There just had to be more, for
those that lived 'the good life'. More...for those
who believed. For people like these, there had
to be a better place to go.

His eyes shifted to his surroundings. From
the sky, to the vast ocean, that stretched
endlessly before him and off the side, to the
towering trees.

He glanced at the walkways, that fronted the
multi-storied, concrete, compartmental dwellings,
that housed some of the more successful of
humans. The buildings, immense in size, dwarfed
all that surrounded them.

The old man did not fix his gaze on the millions
of tons of concrete, steel and glass, but rather
his eyes were filled with wonder of the trees, shrubs,
and a small girl that emerged from the
giant structure.

The little girl was carrying a tiny dog. It warmed
him to see her snuggle her face to the little dog.
The tiny tongue darting from the ball of fur,
touching her nose, bringing a giggle from the little
girl and a smile to the old mans face.
Abruptly the little girl turned to face the huge
glass doors. Someone inside, who the old man
could not see, was calling her. Quickly, she
disappeared inside.

With his eyes glued to the front of the structure,
he waited for her to return. After several
minutes when she did not, he again faced the
ocean. Another memory that brought his peace,
happiness; a little girl, a ball of fur and a hardy
giggle, now became locked in his treasure chest
of memories.

Looking skyward, he smiled and softly whispered;
'Yes...yes, I know you're there. You're all around
me. The trees...flowers...the ocean, everything.
You're everything that's good, that's love. You're
in my heart and the hearts of those that believe
in you. You're love, peace, happiness.' He smiled,
'You were in that little girls giggle.'

The old man stood there. A picture frozen in time.
The waves relentlessly pounding the beach front,
...while a single RAY OF SUNSHINE
jetted from the slate-gray sky...
onto the old mans face.

He stood immobile against a desolate setting.
His eyes slowly closing. He face turned full to
the sun. Slowly, gently, he sank to his knees...
the suns rays locked to his face as he knelt on
the sandy beach. He was filled with a peace
beyond description. a peace, until that very
moment, he never knew existed. Slowly, with
eyes closed, he lay down, his face to the sun.

As he lay prone on the beach,
...the suns rays... seemed to intensity...
causing a brilliant ring to form around
his bodies outline.
The sun grew brighter. With blinding intensity...
it lit up the old mans peaceful and
smiling face.

Circling birds... hovered above the old man...
and a gently breeze, feathered the still body.
The suns rays grew dimmer and finally disappeared
into the heavy, gray sky.

The old man just laid there... motionless and not
breathing......The smile...still on his face.


© Joe Fazio

Submitted: Saturday, January 30, 2010

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