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Wandering Souls-End

November 10, 2013

     He never spoke to Miss Hansen again.  He lived through the winter in that apartment hauling himself out day after day to stalk the neighborhood, both the black side of Lawrence side on the west and the white side to the east.  Every day trying to get his brain reconnected to his right side, but noticing no change in that, only becoming stronger, quicker on his canes and left leg.  On both sides of Lawrence he became, that winter, so familiar that no one looked at him, odd as he was heaving himself along.  Even the dogs didn’t bark at him anymore.  He fell, especially on the ice, but not so much anymore and he was getting better at pulling himself back up.    
     A couple of people began to wave at him as he passed.
     The winter dwindled, but persisted not cold enough for ice and snow, but keeping warmth at bay with a series of drizzling, frigid rain just warm enough to be liquid.
     It was one of these chill, dripping days with the limbs of the mourning trees drooping nearly to the concrete that Dewey
saw the boy from last year, the same long, fine face in the knit cap’s shadow, him walking in he street on the west side and Dewey yelled, “Hey!”
     The youngster didn’t even look, but leapt into a sprint to the corner and around it and Dewey ran himself, as best as he could; an odd lurching, hopping pursuit like oddly evolved beast managing, as he learned to throw himself forward, catch himself, swing ahead and throw himself again, to nearly keep pace, to be close enough to the young man that when his cane tip slipped and he fell, the boy he was chasing heard his fall and stopped, waiting, his instincts warring with each other, the urges to run and to help battling until, hesitantly, shaking his head at himself, he walked slowly back to Dewey who was face down on the pavement and trying to get his legs under him, push himself erect.
     A strong hand under Dewey’s arm lifted him into a sitting position and Dewey looked into the face he remember from another life.
     “You okay?” the face asked him.
     “Yeah,” Dewey said, “what you running for?”
     “I see a white man come and I run.  Why you chasing?”
     “Just to want to talk, that’s all.  Why’d you come back?  In the warehouse?”
     “I don’t know.”
     “Yes you do if you’d just remember.”
     “Man, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.  You’re the guy stroked out at the warehouse.  I know you…the fucking warehouse.  You going to bust me?”
     “No, no.”
     “Look,  you okay?”
     “Yeah, I think.  Give me a minute.  Let me sit here a minute.”  And he sat, waiting for his head to clear, the black child squatting beside him, the two side by side in a ribs joint parking lot.
     “They’re wrong about you you know,” Dewey said.
     “Wrong…?”
     “Wrong about you.”
     “Everybody.  The people who think you’re just one more punk.  The cops, the people who lock their doors against you, the other punks.”
     “I know that.”
     “No.  No you don’t.  You learn things once in awhile, even shit brains like me. Lots of people are wrong, lots of them. 
That’s the problem, so many of them repeating the same mistakes over and over again.  Even if you know better, over time you start to think that maybe they’re right.  You can’t help it.  Despite yourself, what you know, you start thinking you must be wrong.  You knew better once.  You can remember.  Don’t do it.”
     “Don’t do what?”
     “Don’t live down to them.  Live up to yourself.”
     “We are what we are.”
     “No we’re not.  We’re works in progress.”
     “Man.  You on the pipe or what?”
     “You did right,” Dewey said.  “Remember how it felt.  Remember that and trust yourself.  Nobody told you what to do in the warehouse, just yourself.  You came back.  Did it again just now.  Trust that voice, no matter what the others say.  Man, my ass is getting wet.  Better get up.”
     Dewey slewed around to get on his hands and knees, began trying to push himself up, get his feet under him and he felt the boy’s hands grabbing fist fulls of his jacket, pulling him erect.
     On his feet his balance wavered for a moment, he wobble and the boy held on, kept him erect until Dewey got his relationship to gravity in tune again.
     “What’s your name?”
     “James.”
     “Nice to meet you James.  I want to thank you for saving my life.”
     James took Dewey’s hand but just held it and said, “You chased me down just to say that?”
     “Yeah,” Dewey said.
     “You’re one crazy son-of-a-bitch.”
     “Yeah,” Dewey said. 
     “Are we done then?”
     “Yeah, I think so.”   Dewey, in the ribs joint parking lot on that damp, dripping day grinned at James and said, “I’m not real sure.  I’m new at this.”

    

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