Saturday, March 15, 2008

Thief!

Levon lived a life as a street person, not exactly homeless because he did have a small one room apartment that he could go to when he needed to be safe, or warm, or dry, but for the most part he preferred to spend his days travelling around the city collecting what people no longer had a use for. He turned bottles,cans,copperwire into cash. If something needed minor repairs he took it home and fixed it and either used it or gave it away to people less fortunate then himself. Levon considered himself to be a gleaner, someone who provided a valuable service to society.
The unknowing would think that there was nobody less fortunate then Levon because he preferred to sleep out in the open under the Stars. He was claustrophobic and hated being in confined spaces. He hated baths and his only wardrobe consisted of what he wore everyday. Once a year his guardian, a cousin named Benny, would track him down and try to persuade him to have a bath and a change of clothes so he could take him to the Doctor for a complete physical. He could never convince him to cut his hair or trim his beard so the neighborhood youth began to refer to him as Jesus. Benny cared a lot for levon and at first would withdraw levon's monthly pension from the bank and give it to him, that was until he found out that Levon would give it away to people less fortunate then himself, so Benny started not to give Levon any money but found him his apartment and payed for the rent and utilities so Levon would have somplace safe and warm to sleep.

One day while wandering through Central Park, Levon came across a newspaper in a trash can beside a park bench. Levon stopped dead in his tracks and sat down staring at the paper in his hands. John Prine was coming to the Park Theatre, One Night Only, July 04. Tickets to go on sale April 01, that was only two weeks away. John Prine was coming, John Prine was coming. He had to find Benny and tell him that John Prine was comming. As he sat on the bench his mind drifted back to the first time he had heard him. He had just returned from Vietnam and was recovering from a wound he sustained when his best friend stepped on a mine and blew himself up into the dark conopy of trees. Levon took a small piece of shrapnel in the hip, that remains there still today to remind him what he no longer cares to remember, but on cold wet days he remembers his friend vanishing before his eyes.

Levon attended the concert with a girl he once dated in Highschool who by the time he returned was a long legged lovechild in buckskin boots with a crown of daisies in her hair. He couldn't think of her name. John Prine sang Sam Stone and Levon cried. She never would be able to understand the depth of sadness in Levons soul.

And the time that he served
had shattered all his nerve
and left a little shrapnel in his knee

Benny was only too glad to buy Levon a ticket to the concert. It made the task of trying to get Levon to take his yearly bath and check up easy. Not only did he buy Levon a ticket but he purchased him a front row ticket to the concert. Levon wrapped the ticket in plastic so it wouldn't get dirty and he would take it out every night and look at it. "I'm going to John Prine. I'm going to John Prine," was his nightly litany.

The day of the concert Levon rose early and groomed himself as best as he could, put on his only coat and began the walk across the city on a hot July morning that promised to reach into high ninties by the afternoon. He stopped only for water and the most promising refuse cans along the way making a mental note to stop by on the way back. It was 5:30 p.m by the time he reached the Park theatre only a half hour before showtime. It had taken him six hours to cross the city but he made it and couldn't wait to get inside and sit down. Levon went inside and began searching for his ticket. The people standing in line began to move away from him glancing over their shoulders in disgust at his appearence and trying hard not to breathe too deeply. Levon was oblivious to the commotion he was causing because he was beginning to panic, still searching for the missing ticket.

An attendant stepped forward and ushered levon out the door. "I'm sorry sir but there is no panhandling allowed on the premises, you'll have to..God you reek when did you last take a bath?" he said holding his hand over his nose.

"No I have a ticket. It's hear somewhere, I have a ticket."

"How would a bum like you have a ticket, the concerts been sold out for months. See that group of people over there, they would pay two hundred dollars for a ticket to the concert so how in God's name would you have one?"

"Benny bought it for me" cried Levon; "Here it is!" Levon took it from the inside pocket. Here it is! I'm going to see John Prine".

The attendant snatched it from Levon's hand. "This is a front row seat, you must have stolen this ticket. There's no way you could have this ticket unless you stole or found it. Either way it doesn't belong to you. I bet the real owner of this ticket is going to show up anytime soon looking for it, besides even if it was yours and it's not. Who would want to sit beside you. You stink man. We would have to tell you to leave."

"No it's my ticket!" screamed Levon. "Benny bought me this ticket, give it back to me."

A crowd was starting to gather around Levon and the Attendant when an older Policeman came out of the theatre and told them to move along, "There was nothing more to see here. What seems to be the problem here John?" he said addressing the young attendant.
This old man Bum is trying to sneak into the concert by claiming to have a front row seat." John Said.
"I'm sorry but your causing a disturbance and I have to ask you to move along before I have to arrest you for disturbing the peace. I don't want to sit im some locked room and babysit you until the concert's over and then have to spend three hours writing a report because you think you have a ticket to see the concert."
"It's true I have a ticket. Ask him. I have a front row seat to see John Prine."
The policeman turned and looked at the attendant who shrugged and said; "Does he look like the type of person who has front row seats to any concert?"
"You can't do this to me. I'm a Veteran. I didn't go and risk my life so a couple of Fascist Pigs could steal from me." Levon was flaying wildly and spittle was flying from his mouth.
The Policeman stepped forward and grabbed Levon by the lapels of his sweat soaked coat and slammed him into a mailbox. "I told you to leave and I won't tell you again. I'll make you wish you never heard of Johm Prine." and flung Levon to the sidewalk. He wiped his hands in disgust and headed back inside to wash them.
Levon got up slowly and shuffled back the way that he came. "Her name was Poppy." he said as he glanced over his shoulder once more, just in time to see the young attendant pocket something in front of a group of people outside the theatre.

5 comments:

Jane Doe March 16, 2008 at 4:02 AM  

What a sad and beautifully written story. I especially liked this line:

"Levon took a small piece of shrapnel in the hip, that remains there still today to remind him what he no longer cares to remember, but on cold wet days he remembers his friend vanishing before his eyes."

Great writing!

paisley March 16, 2008 at 6:37 AM  

wonderful... very well executed and a perfect story...

gautami tripathy March 16, 2008 at 11:02 AM  

Good to see you posting after so long. Welcome back to blogging world!

One good post!

The books I would write

tumblewords March 16, 2008 at 3:09 PM  

Well written - sad and wrenching -

missalister March 18, 2008 at 11:26 PM  

This flowed so well I was with it the whole way, didn’t have to fight to the finish, i.e. it was a joy to read. And OUCH! Her name was Poppy... Oh lord... I mean I kinda knew what was going to happen but I had hoped...but no...and this was a great direction to go to pack the biggest wallop to the thing between the heart and stomach that has a direct link to tear control. And thanks for dropping by my site with a link to this :-)