Hello Walter, goodbye Jack

Authors note: I love fiction and have been writing a ton of it lately. For some reason I have been sticking with the romance genre. I hope you guys enjoy this short story of life, memories and lost love. Please feel free to leave some comments. Music to read by: “Claire de Lune” by St. Marks philharmonic Orchestra

The old man hobbled softly towards a bench situated along the mighty Atlantic and took a seat. He held a bag of seeds in his left hand and a rolled up newspaper in the other. This is where he had first met her all those years ago, before cancer took her from his arms. God it must have been fifty, no, sixty years ago if it wasn’t a day. He remembered how she looked on that chilly, February afternoon. Her black hair was tucked into her wool collar and she wore a dark green scarf that accentuated her hazel eyes, her cheeks were rose-red from the bitter sting of winter. It had no effect on her personality because her laugh overpowered the noise of crashing waves and pissed off taxi drivers honking their horns in the background.

He removed a handful of bird food and gently threw it on the concrete sidewalk. The pigeons and crows would come, they always did. Food was scarce this time of year, the flying creatures ate whatever was available. They weren’t picky eaters, they were vultures. But he loved them dearly because no one else did.

He sat down and tried to remember what she had worn that day when she came trotting out of the woods like a lost angel. It was a black skirt, he was sure of it, a black skirt and a grey coat with ruffles on the hem. She was wearing red lipstick and brown buckled shoes. She was holding her school books and heading towards some study group he had long forgotten. She was extremely adamant about doing well in school and in the years to come, she pressed him to further his education. He had no use for school, but because she was the reason his heart beat, he wanted to impress her and in the process, become a better man.

Several pigeons made their way over to the stale pellets and decided hunger was the lesser of the two evils.

“BAH!”  The man shouted and swung a leg to scatter the herd. He laughed gingerly at their purple and silver bodies and tossed more feed on the ground with the hope of enticing other species to come and join the feast. He turned around and looked at the park where he had first encountered her. Two giant oaks to the left, a green cresting hill in the center, two more oaks on the right and the small waterfall cascading down the middle of it all. The town had erected a playground near the park’s entrance some years ago but other than that, not much had changed. She loved feeding the birds and in her memory, he made it a daily habit to befriend them.

He exhaled and a puff of smoke jutted out from his wrinkled jaws. It was cold, colder than he remembered and zippered up his fleece to stay away pneumonia. He laughed at the thought of getting sick because at this moment, and at this time, it mattered not.

His life had grown short and he had come up north to visit this special place one last time. He closed his eyes and pictured his darling in his mind. How precious she was to his heart, how beautiful and sweet and unforgettable. The woman had changed his life, gave him meaning and something to take care of. He cared little about himself and could have lived a bachelor’s life. But when he met her and saw the twinkle in her eye, he knew without a shadow of a doubt, this was a once in a lifetime happenstance. Oh how he loved her!

“Hello Jack.”

Jack bowed his head and sighed.

“Hello Walter.”

“What are you doing up here? You promised me you would stay put. What am I going to do with you?” The man with the devious smile questioned him without any emotion whatsoever.

Jack ignored him. He looked back towards the oak trees and tried hard to remember which one they had carved their names into. They were foolish romantics when they were young, and did silly things kids do when they first fall in love.

“Just wanted to get away for a few days, visit the old neighborhood. See some old sights.”

The invisible man sitting next to Jack reached down and grabbed a seed from the ground and popped it into his mouth. The thing pretended to enjoy it and rubbed its’ belly in mock fulfillment.

“I see you’ve chosen the cheap brand this time. I enjoyed the breadcrumbs you wasted last week. Have anymore?”

Jack remained silent as he pictured her ice skating for the very first time. It was their first date and they both had fallen more than once.

“I didn’t come here to feed you Walter. The birds need food this time of year, it’s cold and they have nothing else to eat. Giving food to hungry birds isn’t a waste. But then again you wouldn’t know about compassion, would you?”

Walter tilted his head skyward and chuckled. He was wearing a short sleeve shirt and dark jeans this time. A pair of sunglasses sat tilted on the bridge of his nose and a devilish smile formed on his whiskered face.

“Nonsense Jack, compassion is another flaw in the human species I will never understand. It’s a waste of time and effort and when it’s all said and done, you are deeper into poverty than you were at the start! And all in the name of helping someone else! Come off it old man, there is no room in this world for the likes of you.” Walter said matter-of-factly as he picked at his fingernails.

Jack thought about the day he purchased the ring and asked her to marry him. It was a happy day, a glorious day. She’d put it on her finger with tears streaming down her cheeks, and with quivering lips agreed to become his wife.

“Walter, if it’s all the same to you, can you just shut the fuck up and get on with it? I’ve been listening to your crap for the last seven years and to be perfectly honest, I’m tired of it. I want to see her.” The old man said with little anger and much hope. Her face was becoming much clearer now.

Walter glared towards his prey and took off his glasses, its’ eyes were pitch black with rage.

“So be it.” With one finger, Walter touched Jack on the neck and the lonely old man began to fade into eternity. Seeds fell to the ground and the pigeons began to fill their stomachs.

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