A BUS STOP SHELTER

 

 

A BUS STOP SHELTER

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There is a bus stop shelter down below on the corner. Tonight, raindrops sparkle in its island of light.

On the lateral sides of the bus stop shelter are LED-illuminated advertising display screens. They splash colors from their scroll of ballyhoo.

A bundled figure shuffles ashore out of the night and sits on the bus stop bench. There are no buses running at this late hour.

It is an old man. His white hair is tousled. He wears a down jacket but it is wet, dingy, and torn. His pant cuffs are tattered. He wears big red Nike Volt running shoes, incongruously.

The old man sits and stares down at his shoes.

Now his gaze is drawn to a flickering advertisement on the display screen next to him. It is a pitch from a market for Thanksgiving dinner. It shows a cozy family gathering around a large table laden with feast. The family is smiling and nodding.

The old man turns to the display screen and opens his mouth in a smile and clasps his hands, joining the rhythms of the happy family.

Suddenly the display screen scrolls to a new advertisement. It is about a Medical Group specializing in cancer treatment. It shows a woman wearing a colorful scarf over her head; a cancer patient bravely smiling as a doctor hugs her.

The old man’s smile has fallen. He reaches to touch the woman. The advertisement fades and the old man cries out in anguish. He lowers his head and sobs. He sobs and covers his face.

When the old man again raises his face the display screen is showing a young boy on Christmas morning. The young boy is holding his father’s hand as they descend the staircase.

The old man smiles once again out of his wet face. He beckons to the young boy, “Sonny! Sonny!”

The advertisement ends and the old man shakes his lowering head.

A distant train proclaims its burden to the night.

The old man listens to the train intently and then arises as it starts to fade in the distance.

The old man leaves the bus stop shelter and steps off of the curb directly into the dark road, following the calling train.

An automobile is approaching rapidly.

In an instant the old man is transfixed in the headlights.

The police car screeches to a sliding halt.

Out from the police car emerge not only the policeman but a man, a woman, an older woman, and a boy.

The street echoes.

“Dad! You scared the shit out of us!”

“We’ve been looking for you for three days!”

“Martin! I swear, don’t you ever scare me like that again, you stubborn man!”

“You aren’t supposed to go out of the house without one of us!”

“Grandpa! Why did you leave us? You took my shoes! You’ll miss Thanksgiving tomorrow!”

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And so I was glad I made the call. Can you pass the cranberry sauce, please?

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