—A short story by O. Frank
The air is warm this spring day. There is an overwhelming feeling of new
birth, of life coming back into a once cold snow covered park on the north
side of town. It's a small park, only a block square, but clean with the
typical evergreens that are found in every park. A sidewalk, covered with
a heavy coat of dust, meets at four corners of the park. In the middle
of the park the grass is still parched with an occasional spot of green.
On one of the green park benches near the edge of the walk sits a quite
elderly man. His arms are both grasping the back of the bench. A cane
is hanging over his right leg. A dusty gray hat sits on his head, seeming
to match his age, and brown suit. If you look into his face, with its
long thin nose, you see a kindness, a hint of wisdom, an almost sad look,
and it would be obvious that he was watching the children running and
laughing in the center of the park. It too would be quite obvious that
he envied the children.
One of the children, a little boy in a red shirt, stops running when he
noted the old man, and without hesitating runs over to him.
"Hey mister! Do you want to play?"
"Well now, just what are you playing, little one?"
"Knights." the little boy said.
"Knights, well just why would you want me to play knights?"
"Bob is king Arthur, and Joanna is the queen, and I'm Sir Lancelot,
and you can be Merlin the magician who helps me. "
" Well now, I just don't know. I'm kind of old to be running around
"Oh, please mister."
"Did you know," said the old man with a twinkle in his eye,
"That I used to be Sir Lancelot, too. "
"You did! Were you really a real knight."
"Well now, I pretended to be just like you but we used to make shields
and swords out of cardboard from boxes. I once had a shield made from
wood and every kid in the neighborhood wanted one too."
"Gee! That’s neat, did you kill mean knights, and fight any
"Well now, I used to think I really killed mean knights and dragons.
Why, I used to fight three dragoons at once. Why, I can remember once......."
It doesn't take much to fill a child's head with all kinds of wild dreams
that thrill the imagination, nor does it take much for an old gentleman
to start turning back to the once golden days of his experience.
The air is growing chilly with the coming of night. The once warm spring
day is fading away, as if it was tired and needed to rest somewhere in
the darkness that was creeping upon our little park.
"Gee, Did you save the princess?"
"Well now I thought so. But it is getting kind of dark. Don't you
think you had better be getting home?"
"Yes, I guess so, my mother told me to be home before dark. Bye mister."
"Good-by my little one, God Bless You."
As the little boy walks slowly down the walk he glances back and waves
at the old man sitting there still, with his hands grasping the back of
the bench. If one looks closely, one can see a little tear forming in
the eye of the old man.
The air is cold. The only light is the old streetlight standing at the
corner, near the now deserted bench, on the corner of the little park.
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