a story that has a soldier boy in it
Just wrote this...this afternoon. Happy Veterans day to all. This isn't about a veteram. but hope you will still enjoy it. Hugs to all
The bench was older than it looked. It had been well kept by the city in which
it lived. It sat a bit back off the busy side-walk, in the middle of a large clearing.
The tree from which it had been made had been as
happy and caring a tree, as it
could be and so, the bench was as well. It hadn’t
much time to be lonely. More
often than not, someone made themselves comfortable on its surface.
Almost every night Mortimer Jackson Alexander Jr., spent the night on it.
He’d spread newspapers on the bench, lay himself down and cover up with more
newspapers for insulation. He topped it off with two or three black plastic bags.
Sometimes, a policeman would find him there and take
him to jail for the night.
Mortimer actually enjoyed those times, for he was homeless. The jail was warm
and he was always served breakfast before he was released. He and the bench
had shared many conversations over the months. At least the bench had held
his silence, for what else could it do without a voice. Mortimer Jackson
Alexander Jr. had christened him with the name of ‘Mr. Bench’ and told him
the story of how ‘what he had been’ had turned into ‘what he had become’.
Sometimes a layer of sadness seemed to slip down over his eyes and Mortimer
would close them and be silent for awhile. The bench missed the gentle snoring
and companionship when he was not there. In the early part of the morning, he
would take up his ragged old back-pack holding his meager belongings and walk
into the city, to see what he might find to help him survive another day.
Here came Mrs. O’Shaunesy. She loved the peaceful bench with its calmness at
the beginning of the day and, as soon as she’d poured and drank her cup of tea
and had a crumpet, she came to sit on the bench. She’d arrived one day early
enough to see Mortimer pat its surface and say 'So long Mr. Bench' and so, she
began to call the bench by that name also. Her name might have been O’Shaunesy,
but she liked the informality of being simply ‘Rosie’, so Rosie she became, in the
old bench's mind. She told the bench all about her Mr. Henry O’Shaunesy
and what a wonderful life they’d shared together. There were six children
born to them scattered all over the map. Each had wanted her to come to live
with them, when he’d passed away, but she’d smiled and said ‘no’. This was her
home and it was here she'd stay. At last they’d quit asking and just visited when
The bench felt almost as if it knew each one, from the stories Rosie shared.
Sometimes she’d take out a harmonica and blow a note or two from it. It had
belonged to her Henry. She missed the happy tap,
tapping, signals it had always
sent into her old feet. Henry had been gone for a
long time and sometimes Rosie
got lonely. “Oh well, Mr. Bench, it’s happy I am, to be able to rest on such a fine
bench as you." Some days she stayed long enough to watch the children arrive
with their mothers, to play ball, or other games.
It was then she’d pat the bench lovingly and shuffle away, giving up her seat
to the mothers to visit on, as they watched their children play. The bench loved
the laughter coming from the children and missed it when winter came and kissed
the grassy surface beneath it with a layer of snow. That's when the laughter
stopped, because the children played inside in the warmth of a roaring fire in
There was Pete. The bench worried as much as a bench was able to, about Pete.
It guessed it worried more about him, than all its other visitors. Pete had come
there on a late afternoon one day almost a month ago. “Well, Mr. Bench, I just
got done with my job and I don’t know where, or when, I’ll get another one.
My Mary’s going to be having a baby and the doctors
thinking it might be twins.
What am I going to do? Just what am I going to do? What kind of man am I,
that I can’t take care of my family?” A tear had fallen, as Pete had laid his head
down on the beaches back and soaked into its fiber, followed by another and
yet more. Finally, he’d drawn a deep breath, wiped his eyes dry and said
good-bye to the old bench. “Gotta face up to it all and tell my Mary. Thanks
for listening, Mr. Bench.” And, with his head still slightly bent from this new
weight on him, Pete had walked away.
He’d come back from time to time and shared more talk with the bench. He had
apologized for the tears, thinking perhaps he had not been so manly to do that,
but then he hadn’t felt like much of a man at the time. His Mary had suggested
she could take on some ironing and maybe do a bit of hand sewing. Pete was sad
that he couldn’t even get his sweet Mary an inexpensive sewing machine. He never
stayed long, for he was tired, as day after day, he’s walked the streets looking
On day a soldier had come and sat for a bit. He was just passing by and saw the
bench in the clearing. He’d been hitch-hiking his way home. He was on leave
from his assignment in a far away country. The bench made him think of home and
a park much like this one. The bench listened respectfully as the young man spoke
with such love about his family. “Sure love this country” he’d said. He’d taken a
few steps to one of the medium sized trees that surrounded the clearing.
Taking out a pocket knife, he’d carved ‘God Bless The U.S.A.’ on it.
He smiled upon his work and gave it a salute, before returning to sit a few
moments more on the bench. He rose saying “Hope others enjoy time here as
much as I have. I have to get going. Traffic has picked up and it might be a
good time to catch a ride.” The soldier also patted the benches surface and
walked away. The bench wished it might see the young man return some day
to visit again. He wished he had the ability to have given him a hug and wished
him well. Could the bench have done so, it would have smiled, for no sooner
had the soldier left, then along came Shaun McDonald to visit a spell.
The bench enjoyed Shaun for he always wore a smile. Unlike Rosie who could
not play a harmonica, Shaun McDonald could and often spent nearly an hour
talking and playing, before going on to whatever passed for him ahead.
You never knew when he’d show up, but the bench looked forward to having him
Pete was back. This time he wore a smile. “Can’t stay long old bench.
I have spent so much time in the comfort of sitting here and being able to talk
about everything, that I had to share the good news with you. Mr. Matthews,
down at the general store, told me about a construction business opening up in
town. He’d heard they were looking for workers. Gosh, Mr. Bench. They hired
me. It’s at least a forty hour a week job that pays good and has benefits.
They’ll pay the insurance for the babies when its time for them to be born.
Yes, Mr. Bench. We are having twins. Isn’t that wonderful? Mary’s going to
be so happy. I can’t take her out to celebrate, but when I get me that first
paycheck, I’m taking that pretty wife of mine out for a fine meal.
I’m a happy man. I have to go, Mr. Bench. I’ll be back. I’ll keep you up to date
on everything. Maybe one of these days, my kids will be coming here to play
catch with me and you can share it all. I won’t forget you! Bye.” As oftentimes
happen, Shaun and Rosie happened upon the bench at the same time and began
to share conversations. Shaun would talk and laugh and play the harmonica.
Before you knew it, they’d joined together in an older persons version of an
Irish-Jig. The bench wished it could join in, but try as hard as it could, it was
unable to lift itself up off the ground. It
could enjoy the sight however, and
enjoy it, it did.
Shaun McDonald took Rosie by the arm now. “Come on, old girl. You just hang
onto me and we’ll have ourselves a nice walk this lovely afternoon. Bye, Mr. Bench”
Off they went with barely a backward look. It didn’t matter to the bench.
It knew they’d be back. It was a good thing to be a bench and even though it
could neither walk, nor talk, it knew it was a part of things that somehow made
LIFE WAS GOOD