Corner of Elm and Cape

September 14, 2008
By Kirsten Foley SILVER, Pleasant Plains, Illinois
Kirsten Foley SILVER, Pleasant Plains, Illinois
8 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I sat with my bare feet in the creek behind my house. I could see leaves, twigs, and bugs being carried away in the current. The air was heavy and felt like water was going to drop at any second. I didn’t care; I just sat there and thought about the world. How we have resorted to guns and violence to solve problems. How children are missing their parent or parents because they’re serving there county. How we are so included in our own life that we forget about the lives of our peers. We have become so corrupt in self-loathing that we can’t even see what’s right in front of us.
As I was thinking about the world I didn’t even notice the man down stream fishing. He wasn’t a terribly young man. He was about the age of my now gone grandfather; he had a long white beard that was connected to his white mustache. His cloths consisted of a ratty old flannel shirt and old overalls, which looked to be too small. His fishing pole was made of an old stick and string. It was very obvious that he hadn’t bathed in a while or was made of much money. What was striking to me is that he looked like the happiest man I had ever seen. His smile was bright his eyes were wide with excitement as if he had just won the lottery. I didn’t know what he was so happy about and I wasn’t about to ask. The poor guy thinks he’s actually going to catch something with that pole.
I know better because my dad always says, “The fish you catch is always as good as the equipment you use to catch it with.” My parents are divorced my dad live about a half an hour away and I live with my mom. I don’t talk to my dad unless it’s at a family event. My dad is so- so when it come to being tall, has no hair (not because he’s going bald but because he shaves it), can be funny sometimes, a royal pain in the butt most the time, drinks and smokes (witch I hate) and not quite what you’d say a dad or parent material more a paternal father. My evil step- mother is most of the reason I don’t see my dad. She is old and haggard looking, drinks too much, smokes too much, can’t keep a job, and is a total “B” all the time. My real mom is a petite, blonde hair, brown eyes, can be a bit nasty when it’s that Time of The Month, stay at home mom, and all around she is defiantly mother material. My step-dad is more of my dad than my real father. I love him to death! He is tall, has a stomach but still built, always can make you laugh, has a good job, and is a great father to my brothers and me. I have two brothers one older and a half brother that’s younger. I would die for them both!
While I thought of my family I totally forgot about the man that was there, and that first it was just my feet in the water and now my entire legs were in the water. I quickly moved back onto the large bolder I was sitting on and tried to wipe some of the water of with one of my old jackets I had brought down. I look at the man to see that he was looking straight at me! I didn’t know weather to look away and run for it, or to wave and say hello. Before I could decide the man spoke up and with a stern voice asked my name. I was too nervous to do anything. I wasn’t exactly supposed to be down there so I didn’t know if I told him my name if he would tell the police. All I could think of was those big bar doors, and a creepy cellmate. Oh, and those horrid striped outfits they make you where. Then my thoughts switched to all the times I worry about myself and am forgetting to be nice to other so I murmured “ Kirsten”. He just gave a big smile, which made me feel relived, and said “Hi, I’m Robert.” I sat there silent waiting for the right time to v-line out of there until he said “Have you ever thought that maybe it wouldn’t hurt to talk a little.”
This comment made me giggle a little. In turn made him start laughing. He had a deep voice so when he laughed I was kind of shocked to hear a very light laugh.
So finally after we laughed I spoke up and said, “Sorry, I was a little startled by you.” Which was entirely not true I was just so worried about my self and didn’t want to get in any trouble. I think he kind of sensed that but decided to let it go. A minute passed and then he asked me where I lived, but he did all this while fishing so I didn’t have to look him straight in the face, which made it a little bit easier to talk. I told him I live in the white house in the hill. As we started talking I learned that he live on the corner of Elm and Cape Street, he was divorced, she took custody of the kids, he hasn’t seen them in years, and that when he tried to get a hold of them they refused to talk to him. I listened to all of this trying not to cry. With all he had said he still had I smile on his face the entire time! All of a sudden a huge fish grabbed hold of his line! I couldn’t believe it. This fish had to be at least 12 pounds. He jumped in the water making a huge splash, grabbed the fish, and brought it to the bank. He said he had to go and cut it up before it was to late and that I should be getting home soon anyway. I told him goodbye and waved my hand left and right a few times. Before I was totally turned around he said “This is not a goodbye it’s a hello for the next time.”

The next day I went to the creek to see if the man was there. I couldn’t see anything or anyone. I thought he might be at his house so I decided to walk to Elm. On the way there I couldn’t stop thinking about how big the mans smile was, how he had caught the biggest fish I had ever seen in a lousy old creek with a stick and string, and how the guy must be living pretty well to be so happy and so lucky. I looked up and saw the street sign say Elm and on the other side Cape St. but there was something missing. I didn’t see a house, an apartment complex, a duplex, no trailer, or even a shack. All that sat on the corner of Elm and Cape was a box.

The guy that caught the biggest fish, the biggest smile, lived in a box. He was the happiest man I had ever seen. I had to take a double check to make sure I was at the right place. Yes, corner of Elm and Cape, I was there but yet I wasn’t. I didn’t see him there either. So I walked home and thought how could he be so happy but live in a box. My thoughts went wild. I went back to thinking about the world. How we are all so mad but are living the high life and he is so happy but has nothing.

This is what is wrong with our world.

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