The old man heard them again. He cursed under his breath. “Damn hooligans!” He pulled himself –painfully–out of his overstuffed chair & slowly walked onto the back porch. Next door, the Friedman’s house was still ‘For Sale’ and the local kids had been playing around on the property. “You kids get out of there now! I’m going to call the police!” – Silence. He listened for a minute & peered through the slats in the wooden fence. The pool was empty… he could see a few kids with skateboards running across the lawn away from him. “Skateboarders! Degenerates.” Everyone knew that those skateboard kids were headed for trouble… It was in their nature. Bad breeding. “Parents should bust them in the ass a few times & get them a part-time job. That’ll cure that skateboard stuff.” He muttered to himself as he went back inside. “Good for nothings… loaf-abouts!” – All kids wanted to do these days was sit around & be lazy. Hell, when he was 12 years old, he was working at the sawmill cleaning up the mulcher & chipper machines. He was grateful for what he had! “Damn kids!” – he grumbled again.
He sat in his chair as he had sat every afternoon for damn near twenty five years. There was nothing to do but wait. Wait for this, wait for that, wait for nothing…. Retirement came & went. He tried golf & other hobbies but nothing really filled the void of hard work. He was a salty old bastard. ‘Hard boiled’ – they used to call him. He likened himself to Mickey Spillane’s – Mike Hammer. He was a hard drinking scrapper with good strong Christian values! His motto: ‘Forgive & forget. Just never forget why you’re here!’ In his retirement, he just felt empty. Over the years his health declined. Old & infirmed. Dependent. With advancing years & a growing feeling of uselessness, he became bitter. The Friedman’s had lived next door since right after World War II. The houses on this block were new at the time. The Friedman’s house had a beautiful swimming pool. His own children had learned to swim in it. The two families had been very close. Dennis Friedman had passed away – “God. How long ago….?” He rubbed his forehead. It was difficult to remember sometimes. Memory failure … maybe it was natures way of helping him cope with life.
Whatever, the Friedman children had moved on long ago & recently put the empty house on the market. The old man sat & dozed in the afternoon sun that filtered through the blinds. Dust motes spun slowly as he snored unaware. Two days later, the old man was slowly making his way down the sidewalk. He had walked the three blocks to the post office for many years. It was his form of exercise. At least he got outside. He shuffled & felt good. The sun was coming through the trees & warmed his back. He enjoyed his walks… He started to cross a side street & as he stepped off a curb, his ankle rolled hard. The man saw the asphalt approaching & then he knew nothing. Oblivion.
Coming to, his head throbbed & he smelled disinfectant. He saw the white walls, the green rumpled curtain & the IV solution hanging above him. He fumbled mentally & it slowly came to him. A nurse came by & saw that he was awake. “Hello there. How do you feel? You took a pretty good knock on the head…” She fussed with his IV site on his arm. He mumbled as she pressed some buttons & looked him over. “Your daughter is just outside. Hold on… ” With a flurry of her scrub jacket, she was gone. “Kids! Always in a hurry… He saw a familiar face peek around the corner of the door frame. Nina. “Awww Dad…” She hugged him & filled him in on the details of his accident. He had fallen in the street & hit his head. He was unconscious & a group of young men had helped by removing him to the sidewalk out of traffic. They called for help & stayed with him until an ambulance arrived. His daughter was phoned by a neighbor who saw the accident. She arrived as the EMTs were taking him to the Emergency Room. Her father was growing weaker & more miserable every month it seemed. He had no tolerance for his granddaughter & thought all kids were – “lazy & shiftless.”- as he put it.
She tucked the blanket under his chin & sat next to the hospital bed. “Those young men really helped you today Dad!” She tried to hide her concern. He looked up at her – “We should thank them.” She squeezed his hand & smiled. ” Well, a few of them had shirts on that had a similar logo. I think I remember it. They must work at a warehouse loading trucks or something. They looked a bit young though.” She grabbed her Blackberry & Google searched the name on the shirts. ‘Independent Truck Company’ She looked up in surprise as his eyes met hers. “Oh My God… they were skateboarders!” -Thanks to Rhino for the image. Skate- Ozzie