Wednesday Writing Prompt (WWP) is a biweekly challenge for you and for me. I post a writing prompt on Wednesday morning and a response to it on Thursday. Then anyone who wants to participate can write a 250 to 500 word scene or story in response to it. Let’s see where this wacky world of writing takes us!

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This week’s writing prompt was

Never underestimate the lives of old men sitting on park benches.

 

“Whatcha thinkin’?” I turned my head and studied my grandfather’s profile. He looked so old. In his little brown cap and paisley sweater vest, with his slight hunchback and silky white hair.

I’d never spent this much time with him. But now that I lived in the same town as Gramps, my mom had told me I needed to spend more time with him and take him for a weekly walk on Saturday mornings. I didn’t know that a morning walk included a twenty-five minute rest at the bench between Seventh Street and Swift Avenue.

“Oh, you know.” He kept his eyes on the tiny brown bird frolicking across the pathway.

“Uh, nope. Nope. I don’t.”

“Hmmm.” My grandfather just kept starting at that bird.

“Come on, Gramps. Whatcha thinking?”

He shifted his gaze to my feet, then slowly lifted his eyes to my face. He must have seen something there, because for the first time in my twenty-eight years my maternal grandpa told me a real-life story.

“Oh, well. I was just thinking of another time I saw a bird like that one.” He pointed. “I was travelling. I was young. Very young.” He looked at me then. Really looked at me. He moved his mouth as if he was chewing, assessing. “Younger than you.”

And then he told me about the time he was in Italy as a teenager. He met some new friends and spent his time wandering the streets and club hopping with them all night long. Apparently that’s not all they did. Apparently they were also pickpockets.

“They kept paying for glasses of wine. I didn’t know where they got all their money. And then I saw Lia cozy up to a wealthy looking man. And I saw where her hands went.”

“No, really?”

Gramps grinned.

“Yes,” he nodded. Then grinned even wider, “I asked her to teach some of her tricks. I paid my way to Greece.”

“Wait, what?”

“It’s all about smooth hands.” He winked.

That’s right. Winked. While discussing using his hands smoothly.

Lesson learned: Never underestimate the lives of old men sitting on park benches.

I’m looking forward to more Saturday walks with my grandfather.

 

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Your turn! What did you come up with for this prompt? Share it in the comments.

  1. I was 12 when I moved into his ‘hood. I was about 15 the first time he tripped me. Stuck out his stumpy old leg and grumped, “Look up!” at me. I didn’t fall all the way to the pavement but I shot him an evil eye and rubbed my shin as I staggered toward our apartment door.
    I kept my eye on his crumpled form on the only bench on our block from that time on. I had to pass him on the other side of the road, which took extra time but I had a long memory for avoiding pain.
    Months went by. I studied hard and Mamma worked hard. We hardly saw each other. I had no friends and didn’t want none. Books kept my busy and books made me happy and made Mamma happy too. I forgot the tripping. That old dude shadowed the corner of my mind as I passed on the other side. Traffic whizzed past, taxi’s horns blared, police sirens screamed. Life went on until one day I was walking past him, on the other side of the road, and he called out, “Guido!”
    Suddenly a hulking form stood over me and I was on the pavement, stunned and bleeding. I didn’t know where all the blood was coming from but my head filled with heat.
    The hulk faded into the door frame too fast for me to stand up and punch it. I wobbled and sagged back to my knees with my head in my hands.
    “Marie!” I heard the gargled voice cry out again.
    In front of my eyes the sweetest pair of Mary Janes emerged from no where, with the sweetest polka dot bow on the top. The socks were white as communion cloths and their bows had polka dots too. The calves and knees stuck out from the hem of a private school kilt and suddenly disappeared as Marie bent down.
    Her auburn eyes had the longest lashes I’d ever seen, not that I’d seen girl’s lashes that close before. The flecks around her pupil danced. I felt my own eyes losing focus, even crossing with the overload.
    “You’re hurt,” an angel sang in my ears. “Let me help you. You’re new around here.”
    “I ain’t new!” I protested but straightened my knees at her prompting.
    Her marshmallow arm invited me to put my arm across her classical sloped shoulders. There wasn’t anything to hold on to except her breasts and I sure didn’t want to do that with the old man, and maybe Guido looking on.
    I leaned on her for one step. I didn’t take my arm off her but I limped over unsupported to the door step.
    “Senior Albolli has taken an interest in you,” smiled my angel.
    “Who’s Senior Albolli?” I mumbled, half guessing and bitterly hating the name.
    “He looks after things around here. He says you’re gonna be a doctor, neonatal. You’re gonna save babies.”
    Yeah, right, I thought. Kids like me, whose Manna’s had killed their pappas and done time, even though he deserved it, didn’t grow up to save babies.
    “He says your Mamma’s gonna marry Senior Garilelli and things are gonna be good for her.”
    I shot her an evil eye. “He’s an old….”
    The problem with old psychic quacks was they hinted at truth. Mr. Garilelli had been hanging around….
    “Don’t say it!” Marie placed her honey dipped finger over my lips and smiled.
    My eyes rolled back in my head.
    “You better do as he says” Marie dug a white cloth and a bottle out of her bag. “The next time he tries to get your attention, you might break something.”
    “Ow!” I cried and pulled back as my blood soaked into the stinging white bandage.
    “Listen to me and it’ll all go good with you too,” Marie took no notice of my pain and gave me some weird instructions.
    I didn’t follow them right away but the shadow of that old geezer loomed larger and larger, almost as large as my angel who I hadn’t seen again but really, really wanted to, until one day I actually sat down next to him on the way home.
    As we sat staring at the windows of the opposite apartment complex I thought, everyone sees me, everyone knows I’m in his clutches. My seat grew hot and I was just about to leap off the bench.
    “Marie’s a good girl,” the gnarly voice beside me commented. “Comes from a good family. She’s gonna be a nurse.”
    By his accent I knew he’d been born on the bench. Everyone around there spoke like that, except me and I didn’t want to.
    “You want sex?”
    My hair shot up on my scalp like my seat shot off the bench.
    “Sidown,” that horny old creep sneered. “Matrimonial, stupid. I could see how you could hardly keep your hands off of her. Now I’m gonna tell you how, but you gotta follow me, got that?” For the first time he turned and, raising the dense bush over his one eye he stared into my soul.

    It’s been 60 years now. I married Marie in 5th year at Harvard, scholarships arranged by Mr. Garilelli. And I tripped my first kid yesterday. I’m gonna tell him someday, Don’t underestimate the lives of old men sitting on park benches.

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