Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Hmph! (03/04/10)
TITLE: Watching with Honor
By Thomas Kappel
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He often talked to himself, hummed melodies, and sometimes sang out loud. Today he was quiet. He sat watching the people crossing the street, walking down the sidewalk, and just passing by. A light rail train ran up and down Grand Avenue all day. People got on and off from early morning dark to late night dark. It was a great place to people watch.
“Here comes Mick,” Will mumbled, tucking himself deeper down into his jacket. “To the package liquor store.”
Mick passed by without a word or a fake half-salute this time. He used to stop occasionally in the past and talk for a few minutes, but that ended when he found out Will had been an officer in the military and Mick hated officers.
A short time later, Mick walked back, but crossed the street to walk home on the other side. He had his bottle wrapped tightly in a brown paper bag and safely tucked tightly under his arm.
Will humph his disgust and went back to watching the street. “Damn fool! Waste of good life.” He hummed a short funeral dirge quietly.
At two minutes to noon, Sam, the owner of the Italian deli on the opposite corner, stepped out, and crossed the street toward Will. He carried a white paper sandwich bag and a drink in his hands.
“Here comes Sam,” Will mumbled, sitting up straighter in his chair.
“Morning Will,” Sam said, handing the bag and drink over. “Here’s today’s lunch. How are things going.”
Will studied him for a few moments that broke out in a song. “Oh, what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day.” He finished with a big smile at Sam.
“It is that, for sure,” Sam agreed, “and you have a good day today Will.” Sam turned and ran back across the street to his deli and lunch time crowd.
And then there was Carol. She got off work at two every afternoon from her early morning office cleaning job. She rode the light rail to work and home and often stopped to talk with Will when he was there.
Today she got off the train wearing a light yellow blouse, dark chocolate brown pants, and dress shoes with short high heels. She smiled when she saw Will in his chair against the wall.
“Here comes Carol,” Will said, a big smile on his face.
“Will, it just makes my day to see you sitting here,” Carol said as she walked up. “You look so handsome today. I’ve had a wonderful day so far.” She bent down and gave him a quick kiss next to the long deep scar on his forehead. Then she turned around and backed up to lean against the wall next to him.
“I got a new job today. I’m a secretary now and not just someone that cleans offices. I passed the typing test today. I start tomorrow.”
She paused looking down at him in his chair.
“I won’t be coming home this way or at this time any more. I have to take a bus until I can buy a car.” She squatted down next to him. “I tell you what, next week I’ll pick up some carry-out after work, stop by here, and we’ll have dinner together. How’s that for a date?”
Will sat silent then softly and clearly began to sing, “Somewhere over the rainbow dreams come true.” He sang as tears glided down his face. Carol stood up, kissed him again on the forehead, and turned to walk the rest of the way home. She brushed the tears from her face, but didn’t look back.
Will sat there quietly humming until the sun started down and the wind became a chill breeze. Then he rolled away from the wall.
It was only then that those getting off the train or just passing by could see the automobile license plate someone had attached to the chrome metal bar across the back of the wheel chair.
It was a simple plate with five white stars on a field of blue and words across the bottom that said, “Medal of Honor.”
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