Johnny America




An old man was at his ta­ble eat­ing his meal. Even­tu­al­ly he fin­ished eat­ing, and wiped him­self down.

He was read­ing in the news­pa­per about pol­i­tics and how they were do­ing. Pol­i­tics are do­ing well, he thought. Good. Pol­i­tics are important.

He fin­ished his meal. His mouth was smeared and amazed with it. He sipped his beer. He did not want it all. Some­one else could fin­ish that beer.

“Hel­lo!” he said. “Hel­lo! Will some­body fin­ish my beer!”

No­body fin­ished his beer.

This man was a wid­ow­er. At this restau­rant the man would sit at this ta­ble with his old wife and read the pa­per, any sec­tion. If she were here now, he would not read the pa­per, and he would share his meal. But she could not be here now be­cause she is dead.

“Here, have this!” he would say, lift­ing forkfuls.

What hap­pened in the pa­per did not re­al­ly con­cern him.

Maybe he would still read the pa­per if his old wife were here. He held a great re­spect in him for this wife. Maybe they would read from sep­a­rate pa­pers to each oth­er. Maybe pa­pers from dif­fer­ent cities.

He peered out the win­dow of the restau­rant. Every­thing was great out­side. The weath­er was bright and invit­ing. The rolling clouds were poked with some holes. I want to climb in­side of there, he thought.

He came out­side. This man tucked the pa­per in his armpit. Sharp wind tried to blow it away.

He walked around the down­town. He re­mem­bered go­ing to these dif­fer­ent places to get cer­tain things with his wife and his girl­friend. He did­n’t get things with both his wife and his girl­friend to­geth­er, but at dif­fer­ent times in the day. As he passed each place, it was a dif­fer­ent mem­o­ry. This way was the way he saw places now. There were places for his girl­friend, and places for his wife. In truth he had not seen so many dif­fer­ent places re­cent­ly. Each place was most­ly the same. There were, of course, dif­fer­ent races and eth­nic­i­ties, but not much else be­yond that.

This man could feel his fa­ther and his moth­er thump­ing in his breast. His fa­ther had a dif­fer­ent life than him. For in­stance, his fa­ther nev­er did read the pa­per. For in­stance, he had many books in the house and he was by his wife when she stopped her living.

But these two were crowd­ed out by his old wife in his breast, beat­ing. She beat, wagged through the swale of his heart, and then he bought a Coke from a vend­ing ma­chine in the park by the movie theater.

He found a bench with­out any­body in the park near the movie the­ater. It was a nice, grassy park with plen­ty of vend­ing ma­chines and hon­ey aca­cia shrubs. He lay there for a short while and died. Near­by, a group of chil­dren played foot­ball. One was the worst foot­ball play­er among them. It was tack­le foot­ball and he was slow, and he strug­gled. He was nev­er get­ting the ball but still he was the ob­ject of so many tack­les. He did not speak to any of the oth­er chil­dren. He flopped around. Af­ter one tack­le he lay on the ground and whim­pered and did not move for many min­utes. The chil­dren yelled at him to move. Still he would not move. The oth­er chil­dren be­came scared. Some­one said he would call the par­ents of the child who was not mov­ing. The child stirred, knelt, and rose to his feet. He said some­thing, and kept go­ing with the foot­ball game.

Filed under Fiction on December 21st, 2009

Care to Share?

Consider posting a note of comment on this item:


Previous Post


Next Post


Join our Irregular Mailing List

For very occasional ramblings, word about new print ephemera, and of course exciting investment opportunities.