Relentless sun beat down, sun hot enough to fry eggs on the pavement so the weatherman claimed. Henderson Wyatt sat on a metal bench underneath a tall Oak, his old eyes barely focused as he watched ducks swim in the park pond. Only an infrequent breeze moved the ducks on the water.
“Hey dude, ya gotta light?” A rash voice interrupted Henderson’s trance.
Henderson glanced up at the gangly young man. “Quit smoking fifteen years ago.”
“Didn’t ask fer yer life story, jes a light.”
Henderson didn’t reply, just crossed his legs and returned to his passive gaze.
“Whatcha sit her do’in all day? I see you here all the time.”
“Good place to watch ducks.” Henderson elected to try a curt reply, hoping the young man would move along.
“Ducks, man ya got some strange in the brain.”
“God’s creatures.” Perhaps he will finally move away. Henderson took a handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed at the sweat on his brow.
“God? I heared of him once. Ma used to drag me to church when I was a kid.”
Henderson looked over the top of his glasses at the young man, he is still a kid.
“Oh,” Henderson replied.
“Ma’s done gone now too, jus like the ol man. Cops got the ol man, but they planted ma last month.”
“Oh. So, where do you live now?” Sheesh, I can’t believe I asked him that, he will never leave, hope he gives up.
“Yer in my liven’ room, sittn’ on my couch. I lives riach here.”
“Don’t you go to school?”
“Naw, after they took ma I moved here. Uh, I'm old enough.” The young man's protest was lost on Henderson.
“Nobody looks for you?” Henderson wiped the dampness from his mouth.
“Ain’t nobody . Nobody even to watch me like you watch them ducks.”
Henderson laughed. “God’s watching you.”
“Yeah, right. I don’t see Him anywhere.”
“You have a radio?” Henderson noticed the tiny black box attached to the young man.
“Batteries are dead.”
“But when the batteries worked, you could listen to the radio, right?”
“Yeah, suppose so.”
“Could you see the radio signal, the airwaves?”
“Do you believe that the radio waves are here right now if you had batteries for your radio?”
“God’s here too, sorta like that, but you don’t need batteries, you can look at the sun, the trees, even the ducks, to know that He is here. He provided it all.” Now, he will run away for sure.
“Yeah, I guess I sees what you mean.”
“I think maybe your mother did a little more than take you to church.”
The young man put a knee on the park bench. “Mister, you a preacher?”
“Nope, just a tired ol man, sitting here talking to God, on a hot afternoon.” Henderson removed his glasses and wiped the perspiration off the lens.
“Talk’n, how you do that? I bet you be pray’n.”
“Kind of, yes, talking to God is called praying.”
“A man prayed at the cemetery when ma died. Didn’t see God there.”
“Oh, He was there, accepting your mother into His house, but they are in heaven and you can’t see heaven from here.”
“Oh, kinda like New Jersey?”
There’s a parallel I never considered. Much further.
“Kin I git there?”
“Sure, but you gotta talk to God about it.”
“I kin do that?”
“Uh huh.” Henderson paused, then said, “You know, in the basement of the big church up on 14th., about two blocks from here, they have free food, and there are folks there that will help you talk to God.”
“Cool, hey ol’ dude you know a lot of stuff.”
“That’s God’s doing. I’m just a mouthpiece for Him, sometimes. Come on I need some iced tea, I’ll walk up there with you.” Henderson stood and began walking toward the avenue. “Coming?” he asked, looking over his shoulder and tucking the handkerchief back into his pocket. Hope the kid follows.
“Sure, why not.”
“Good.” Well, Jesus, here’s one to work on, I’m putting my hope in You. A cool breeze blew off of the pond and seemed to follow Henderson and his unlikely new friend.
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