It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and I wanted to offer a treat to my readers in the hopes of make up for my absence. If you don’t know, I am a musician and a writer. Lately, it’s been a challenge for me to create the time I want to do these things. So, as a tool to move myself in the right direction, I have started editing old short stories. Here is one from the archives. I will also be sharing this on my author blog “Imagine Me a Story.” So, if you are interested in writing and stories, I invite you to follow me there as well. I’d love to hear what you think of this story as it’s the first time it’s been presented to the world at large. My I present to you… “Mr. Turner”
“I’m tired of trying to see the good in people.” Mr. Turner thought to himself as he chuckled at his own humor.
He lifted his hand to the bulging lump on his head and rubbed his fingers together to feel for blood. Not bothering to suppress another laugh, he realized how ridiculous that was considering he was sweating and hadn’t washed his hair in days. According to his mystery audiobooks, he expected a metallic scent if he were bleeding. He smelled his fingertips; nothing.
He had been blind since the accident nearly thirty years ago, but Mr. Turner learned to cope just fine. He lived by the old adage that laughter was the best medicine. The more he laughed, the more he hoped it was contagious.
The pain increased as his wound pulsed and forced his smile to vanish. His balance began to fail him and a groan croaked from his lips as a pair of arms guided him to sit on a cold surface. He assumed it was the stone of the courthouse steps.
“Are you okay? Can I help?”
A baritone voice tinged with a note of youth exuded true concern for the elderly gentleman.
“I’m not sure what happened. I just felt something hit me on the head here and…”
Mr. Turner’s hand moved once again to his injury. Finding focus, he continued.
“I don’t suppose you saw what hit me? Someone asked if I could spare money for bus fare, and I reached for my wallet. Well, that’s about when you showed up. I imagine my wallet is gone too.”
The Good Samaritan sat down next to Mr. Turner and placed the wallet in his hand.
“Actually, it was laying at your feet. There might be a few dollars gone, but nothing else seems to be missing.”
The old man flipped open the worn leather flap that held his identification and felt for the glossy paper tucked into the pocket. He might not be able to see it, but he figured it was proper for a man to carry a photo of his family. He pulled it out and extended it to his companion.
“Some things are more precious than a few dollars and a lump on the head,” said Mr. Turner.
The man smiled and looked at the beautiful lady and young girl. The photo was clearly aged. He asked as if he knew.
“Where are they now?”
“Aw, they’ve been gone for many years. The same accident that took them also took my sight, but I didn’t care to see much after they were gone anyhow.
You know, people think I come here to the courthouse to beg. Just because I’m blind, they think I’m begging for their loose change. But, the truth is, I get by just fine. I come here for other reasons. You see, on Wednesdays, Marcel brings his hot dog cart here for the lunch hour. Now, I only know Marcel from him having his hot dog stand, and truth be told, I can’t stand the smell of them dogs. But, he and I always have a great conversation about baseball, and I really enjoy his company. He always takes some time out for me after the lunch rush.”
“But today is Friday. Why do you come here any other day?”
Mr. Turner took a big breath in through his nose and sighed it out with pleasure.
“Do you smell that, son? Every year, the landscapers plant Gardenias. Now, I know it’s silly, but my wife had a fancy soap that smelled just like that. She would use it, not only for herself, but also when she gave our sweet little Eva a bath. The way that woman smiled, ha, it just made me fall for her all over again every single day. It’s hard to know what I miss more; her smile or our little girl’s laughter. When I come here and smell the Gardenias, it’s like they are sitting with me. It keeps me smiling, you know?”
“It’s good to keep smiling.”
The man pulled a hand rolled cigarette from behind his ear and gave it a light, distorting the nostalgic aroma. Mr. Turner smelled a sweetness to the tobacco before his thought was interrupted.
A young girl’s voice chimed in just the way his daughter’s had. If it weren’t for reason, he would swear it was his Eva. The girl audibly huffed her frustration followed by her criticism.
“Why do you tell everyone that smoking is bad but then you do it?”
Mr. Turner’s heart sank as he realised it was the other man’s daughter.
The man exhaled and leaned forward.
“Kids. Aren’t they honest? Child, I also teach folks to make their own happiness and everything in moderation, right? Besides, it’s just an odd pull every now and then.”
There was an air of amusement seeping through his excuse.
“Oh, Mr. Turner, I almost forgot, we brought you a gift.”
The man waved his hand in front of Mr. Turner’s eyes before the old man could wonder how he knew his name.
The darkness he had been in for decades suddenly turned to a blinding light before shapes began to come into focus. There was no pain but a tingling sensation came over his entire body. The shock caused Mr. Turner to gasp as he leaned back against the steps. He felt the girl’s hand reach for his, gripping his fingers.
She whispered, “It’s okay. I asked him to.”
His eyes blinked and allowed a few tears to wash away any remaining bits of darkness. He opened his eyes. There before him was his beautiful daughter just as he had last seen her. Two braids coming down behind her ears, her favorite jumper complete with heart buttons, and yellow stripes.
For fear she might vanish and uncertain if his mind was failing him, he didn’t speak. He lifted his hand to her cheek and stared.
The man with the cigarette cleared his throat.
“Sorry it took us a while to get here, time is a little different depending on where and when you are.”
Mr. Turner looked up and saw the man had a warm, bronze tone to his skin with enough stubble on his chin that it threatened to soon become a beard. He wore Birkenstock sandals with white, thin cotton pants and a short sleeved, button up shirt boasting a bold floral pattern. He smiled widely and continued.
“Don’t worry about that punk that bopped you, he’ll get what’s coming to him. Karma works for me. Come now, child, say goodbye. We’ll see you again soon, Mr. Turner. But, not too soon.”
The little girl kissed the fingers that still lingered on her cheek before she ran over and reached for the bronzed man’s hand. Overcome with emotion, Mr. Turner burst out as they began walking away, “Wait! I want to follow you!”
They both looked back as the man chuckled.
“But, Mr. Turner, you already do. Every time you see the good in people.”
Mr. Turner knew he couldn’t go with them. He watched them walk farther away until he couldn’t hear their conversation any longer. The man said something funny to the little girl and Mr. Turner noticed how her body shook with laughter. He had forgotten that you could see joy. Then, it became contagious to him, as laughter often does. Mr. Turner knew he couldn’t change who he was. He would always see the good in people.