My town wasn't the smallest in the county but wasn't the biggest either. We had 8 main streets that ran North South, and 12 that ran the other way. There were many country roads here and there. Our only big bridge is the E Street Bridge. It crossed the widest section of the Franklin Creek, which was actually a small river that dumped into the Ohio a bit further on. Day time found it to be a bit busy but only a few cars crossed at night. The bridge also served as my summer home.
I had a nice little set up here. I had a bed fashioned on pallets that could serve as a couch, tucked under the bridge. A cardboard door helped keep it private and dry. I used solar lights to keep the darkness away. People throw them out all the time. Such waste is my gain, I say. By the entrance stood my good friend Gramma Krackers. Her wiry hair and ready grin was often a comfort when the world got hard to deal with. Too bad I was the only one who heard her jokes.
This night, I had been fishing for my dinner. My fire was kept low so I didn't invite others into my space. I had hoped to have a fried fish feast in just a bit. I set my pole to the side as the man reached the edge of the bridge.
I watched his slow walk, the slump of his shoulders, and the way he just couldn't seem to lift his feet to take another step. It was hard to read his body language but he didn't worry me, so I thought I would see what he was about. I ducked inside for a quick check of things, then I crawled out and followed the man up onto the bridge.
He was dressed in jeans and western work shirt. He had a cap on his head that read EMS in big blue letters. He walked in a bone wearily way that made me think of days gone by. I once carried a load on my mind that kept my shoulders slumped and my feet dragging. I had to quicken my step up a bit to catch up but then I didn't say anything, just walked with him a ways.
We had gotten about half way across that old bridge, when the man turned to me. At first he just looked through me with those troubled eyes. After a heart beat or two, he reached into his pocket and dug out a few coins and a crumpled couple of bills. He reached out his hand without so much as a word. I took what he offered but with a heavy heart. I looked down at it, there in my hand, until he reached out and closed my fingers around it.
"I won't need it and you do," he said before turning on his heel and sure footing it to the railing. He leaned his arms on the cold metal and stared off into the water.
Not stepping any closer, I said to him, "You know, I haven't always this way. I've had my moments."
I told him about sitting here, on the water's edge, with the bright sun on my shoulders. I told him about that long plane ride home from a war that never left my dreams. I told him how I had felt the day my little boy was born. A mile high and bullet proof to be exact. There were moments when I was second to none. Moments when I did what I thought I couldn't do.
I was quiet for a time. I let the warm memories flow through me in a way that no chill could get through. The sounds of night settled in before I added, "Lookin' at me now, you might not know it, but I've had my moments."
He stood there so still. I didn't budge. My feet were sore but nothing like they had been in the days of battle. I knew the look he wore because I had seen it before, felt it before. Deep in his blue eyes came a search for the nerve to push up and over that rail. His heart was wondering if anyone would miss him, if anyone really cared.
I had no words to ease what ever pain he cared except the two that had once been given me. I said them quietly and just once. "I care."
He didn't show that he had heard me. He just stood there looking down and I just stood there with him. I didn't move too close. I didn't move away. I was just there.
Suddenly he broke his silence. With a hitch in his deep voice he said, "You know, I haven't always this way. I've had my moments."
He told me about giving up the wine for a woman who became his wife. How that love, when it was right could see him through. He talked of the time he found a child in a pool and brought her back from where the young should never be. He talked of moments when he did what thought he couldn't do.
That night we talked for hours. From time to time, we would talk again.
"How many times did that old man tell you that story as he stood around this old trash can fire? Can you see it as clearly as I remember that day? You know, he did have his moments. He had moments when he did what he thought he couldn't do. Like that cool night, long ago, when I almost ended it, and he saw me through. He wasn't scared a bit. He just helped me hold on."
The young man had since become a father, a man making his way in the world, doing what he could to do it right. He gathered up the gift his old friend had left for him and turned away from the small gathering of street folks, friends and family that hadn't understood the old man.
He heard Gramma Krackers say, "This is one of those moments. Hold tight to it so it can help you through."
I hope you all enjoyed the story. I hope you leave me a message below. If you all like this stuff, I will do it more often. Let me know....
Find peace in your moments.... it's there... trust me.