by B.J. Burgins

There's a shotgun house adjacent to a vacant lot which used to be a hot spot, Big Daddy's Hamburger Joint but that's been many years ago, yet there's an old wanderer who's seen it and other businesses alike come and go. Paper sack brown a hidden scar under his right ear stretching right below his left, that's said to be the second time he escaped death- a wrinkled face weary about the eyes, strained expression that sees nothing while emotionless in the pit of surprise- a 1980s windbreaker jacket detailed with windmills, old cotton slacks stained leather shoes a panama hat with a chin strap to match the wooden cane, a slow cautious walk with a limp old as the lines in his face with an umbrella in his left hand to block the draining sun. A stranger to the passing cars but familiar to the ancient roads when they were plastered with long ago bars that served cups framed as jelly jars- no one walks along his side, no one shares a conversation yet one can only wonder about the origin of the man in the panama hat with the chin strap playing as his head with that sun blocking umbrella acting as his hat. On the bus line during summer days he sits for hours and hours not bothering a soul, and sometimes when it's cold looking off into nowhere seems to be his eyes' objection but there's a story for his reasonable distressing not to mention the overheard conversations he has with himself detailing his own discretion. Long ago he was what the old folks call a jelly- smooth, hip and self assured. He was in love with a beauty named Dashelle Monroe, rumored to be from Louisiana and titled a Creole- with green-gray eyes, a Dorothy D. smile with auburn hair skin tinted yet fair and he loved her, supposedly took a cut from some jealous white fellow before fatally wounding him in return over her, resulting in her leaving until things cooled down. One day in broad daylight he kissed that woman many mistook for being white for the very last time, not realizing it in his mind as he waved goodbye to the auburn haired, pearly gray-green eyed Dorothy D. smile having skin tinted yet fair faced beauty, full of games and lies. Thirty something odd years later he travels to that same old bench almost daily - windmill printed windbreaker cotton slacks, same old leather shoes soiled and stained with that slow, cautiously limp walk with an expression weary and crazy - iconic cane to help the limp on his right side, umbrella in left hand panama hat with the chin strap acting as his head. The umbrella not only blocks the sun but the curious eyes that stare, along with the unseen tears upon the strained face, yet expressionless; but even though there's always the talk of the unsure rumor, I oftentimes wonder is it just a part of the inconsiderate inhabitant's humor. After seeing what this place and the world alike are all about maybe I too would act crazy just to keep the crazy ones on their p's and q's when it came to me - I'd talk to myself because it doesn't pay to talk to others no-how, maybe I'd even wear the same old clothing to secure my days in the land, for jealous standbys hate to see you look good anyhow- and would also keep a cane as my bat to play baseball on any brainless balls who'd consider knocking me down for the fall, as well as an umbrella to block the haters on all sides of my diaphragm. And to mention those days that are hot and hazy which share collaborations with the heartless, mean, cruel, ignorant along with the unclassy, thoughtless, no pride having individuals, maybe I too would act crazy. But maybe part of his story does hold a certain vixen that took him out of his mind, Dashelle Monroe from Louisiana referred to as creole, gray-green eyes a Dorothy D. smile with auburn hair skin tinted yet fair, something wrapped in flesh that could be too much for a fella that walks around fashioned in the same ole and holding onto the last piece of her sentimental collection left long ago, a shielding umbrella.

Umbrella by B.J. Burgins

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