The Old Man on the Street

As the sun rises in the morning sky he ambles down the dirt and stone road. Few dogs are as big or as marked by life as this one. He stops to sniff a scent near the dewy, wet brush that threatens to one day crawl across to the other side, blocking this glorified footpath. He has no fear of vehicular traffic. The cars that venture onto this wooded lane are few and far between. His casual, confident attitude seems to imply that it is his road as much as anyone else’s. The sharp caw of a black crow in the distance causes his ears to prick up. The left ear so ratty and ragged that it may not serve him as well as it once had. He lifts his head and turns his rheumy eyes back over his shoulder. After seeing what he was looking for the black and brown mottled behemoth of a dog turns his muscular shoulders forward and begins to walk slowly again. He favors one of his rear paws as he walks as if it has a thorn that has yet to be removed by a kindly mouse. He has no tail to wag behind him, so it is impossible for a stranger to gauge his mood.

Then, as if attached by an unseen umbilical cord, comes his master. If dogs really do grow to resemble their owners or vice-versa, there likely are very few pairs that demonstrate this phenomenon more clearly. A grizzled, almost claw-like hand covered in nearly transparent skin holds a weather beaten oak cane. The copper tip and duck head shaped handle appear as old and worn by life as their owner. He wears glasses best described as spectacles behind which his eyes seem almost overwhelmed by the wrinkles and folds of skin that have taken on the rough shape of a face. A battered, torn baseball cap, with a shadow where the missing logo had been stitched on, adorns his head, forever leaving it a mystery what lies beneath. To the curious observer he might be as bald as a billiard ball or hiding a thick, lustrous mane of Rhett Butler-like hair beneath his cap. His small, frail shoulders are concealed beneath a khaki colored windbreaker reminiscent of what one might wear when out sailing on a cool fall day. Underneth he wears a plain blue workman’s shirt that may or may not have a red and white stitched name tag that is concealed by the jacket. What might such a man’s name be I wonder? His feet shuffle along behind the cane in plain, dark brown workboots that were not designed for comfort, but which must be soft and flexible by now from many years of walks such as this one. With a smile and a wave he slowly passes by.

Although impossible, this man and his canine companion appear to be the same age, closer to a century than anything else. If he so chose this man could probably hold court beside a campfire, pipe or cigar in hand as he spun stories of days gone by while his faithful companion stretches at his feet, soaking in the radiant warmth of the fire. In my mind I know they won’t live forever. I know that someday there won’t be that quiet wave and smile on Sunday morning and I’ll miss them both.

17 responses to “The Old Man on the Street

  1. beautifully written, evocative.

  2. I agree with Toasty. Very nicely done

  3. wow you are a writer..who knew LOL..just kidding…great post.

  4. but I wanna know what happens to them!!

  5. i love old people.

  6. Phil this is so moving :o)

  7. Well done! You brought them to life better than any photograph ever could….one more reason why I disagree with the addage “one photograph is worth a thousand words.”

  8. Hageltoast- Thank you. Evocative is a great word and a better compliment.ChooChoo- Thank you very much.Quinn- LOL! Thanks : )Tai- They get run over by a tractor trailer. J/K I don’t know. Someday they will be gone and I’ll have to assume the old guy passed away and the dog will do the same out of loneliness shortly thereafter.

  9. Lovely Heart- I had to write this. The old guy and his dog just seem so beat up by life that they are a perfect pair and their faces twell a story.Michelle- Thank you. I had nothing funny to write, so I came up with this. I’m just sort of practicing my other writing.Sunny- Thank you. That is such a nice compliment.

  10. Wow Phil. Nicely done. Have you ever thought of entering short story contests? That was great. But (don’t kill me for this), “cacky” is really spelled “khaki.” Sorry, my mom is an english teacher and those long 18 years have rubbed off on me.

  11. great dog imagery. you must’ve been picking up on my pooch’s vibes. he just had a chunk taken out of his ear this week (not healing well) and i need to get him to the vet. my cute pup is now starting to look a bit rough around the edges. are you going to keep the story going?

  12. Phil thanks for popping into tea and toast now get over to xanadu where i play now. 🙂http://hageltoast.typepad.com/seeking_xanadu/(spose i should update my bloggy details huh)

  13. My mom always buys dogs that are yellow…she’s a blonde. They match.

  14. Travelin’ PT- Thanks for the spell check. I hate to make mistakes like that. When I see PT I think ‘patient’ but that was cleared up when I visited your blog. I’ve never entered a short story contest, but if you say I should then it shall be done.McKay- I wasn’t going to keep the story going. I imagine that one day the old guy will die in his sleep and then the dog will eat his body and in turn die of loneliness.Hageltoast- I’ll visit you at typepad, but I’ll never convert. Princess- Maybe that was your Mom I saw walking her dog!

  15. Wonderfully written – you made me cry

  16. Lesly- Thank you. Your compliment touched me.

  17. what do ya know, you can write *chuckling* Though I, of course, completely disagree with Sunny.

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