Old Man and the Sea

November 10, 2010
By , Council Bluffs, IA
One day as I was on my way home from school, I saw an old man. He was sitting on the park bench next to the sidewalk path I was walking down. He looked around 80 or 90 years old, extremely short and quite plump. He was wearing dress pants with tennis shoes, a long dress coat similar to a trench, one of those cute little old man hats with the feather on the side, and large square glasses with the tiny bifocals on the bottom. His hair was as white as snow, and his skin as wrinkly as a shirt that has not yet been ironed. This man walks alone down this quite road with his cane in his right hand, and his Bible in his left.

As I was walking past the old man, I noticed a scar on the side of his face. It looked so terrible. I decided to stop and ask the man if he was in need of assistance. He slowly turned his head to look up at me, smiled, and said, “Would you like to talk to an old man while he waits?”

I did not bother to ask him what he was waiting for; I just walked over to him and sat on the park bench with the man while he talked. He talked to me about how pretty I was, how young I was, how much he missed being young, his wife, and finally, right before I was about to leave, he told me about the scar.

“Back in 1942,” he began, “I was twenty-three years old. I had just enrolled in the U.S. Marines. At such a young age, I was without a care in the world. Everything seemed fun to me. The day I boarded that ship was a great achievement. I finally felt like my life was worth something; like I could do something with it. I now had a purpose to fulfill.

“The time I spent on the Liberty ship was incredible. I was in charge of watching over all of the cargo being transported with us. But most of all, I loved the view. The mountains were large and tall with white snow covering the tops. The ocean below me was warm and salty with more fish than ever imaginable. Right as we were about to pull up on the island of our destination, a small island off the coast of Europe, a bomb was dropped right next to our ship. I shuddered. My arms and legs began to shake. I was no longer alert of my surroundings. I couldn’t seem to hear anything. All I could hear was the sound of my own heart beat. I never imagined that coming so fast. I quickly ran to the sky deck and loaded my gun for attack. When I finally had my gun loaded, I had seen blood dripping onto my hand. I slowly touched my face and realized it was me. I thought back to what had happened when the bomb was dropped. I realized I was standing next to a glass case full of gun powder and bullets. The force was so great, and came so fast, I did not even realize what had hit me. I quickly grabbed my handkerchief from my uniform pocket and tied it around my cheek. From a distance I heard ‘Welcome to War, my boy! Welcome to Hell.’”

By now, I was intrigued. I wanted the man to tell me more stories, more about his experiences, more about him.

As I was about to open my mouth, he disappeared. I did not see him walk away, he was just gone. One minute I turned my neck, and the next, I lost everything. I lost my excitement, my momentum, my friend.

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