The following story has a little bit of history with me. Many many years ago, I went by a bus stop and sitting on the the bench there was an old man. He looked sad and lonely.He looked like he had a story to tell and no one to hear it. So , I made a story for him. The original writing was a poem entitled Lost Eloise. It was an ok poem, but I truly am not that great of a poet. Anyway, the old man and his lost Eloise has stuck with me and here I finally tell the story…
The girl approached the bus stop. She was happy that is was enclosed. It was raining, well not really raining. It wasn’t a good honest rain that pelted you and caused pedestrians to scramble for cover. No. This was more that rain that was too heavy for fog and too light for real rain. The kind that just coated you and made you feel a chill through to your bones. Even through the layers she had piled on today, she was cold, wet and just miserable.
She picked up the pace a she got closer to the bus stop, forward to just getting of the wet. She looked up and saw him. Great, just great. There was an old man sitting on the bench in the enclosure. She didn’t want to deal with other people, and certainly not an old man. Old people either wanted to talk too much or they sat there and gave you those sideways glances. The ones that said they found you to be a disgusting punk unworthy of the human race. That perhaps you and your generation where to mistrusted and avoided. Besides they smelled of liniment, and dust and well, just old.
With head down, she held her breath and slipped past him, sitting as far away on the bench she could. The old man watched her. He was going to talk to her. She wished she had her headphones on. That way she could drown him out with her music. She did not though. It wasn’t safe to wear them in her neighborhood. If you didn’t just get your player stolen from you, you may not hear any gunfire that might erupt. No it was smarter to keep your ears and eye open. Maybe, if she acted like she was sleeping, he would leave her be.
“Oh Eloise” the old man sighed and shifted a bit.
Hey how did he know her name? That was a bit weird. She looked at him through her lashes. Nope he did not look familiar, but you never knew. Old people tended to hideout in their homes, behind closed curtains. You saw them coming out on the 1st and the 15th, scurrying along the sidewalk as if momentum alone would propel them through their day. This old man though did not look familiar anyway.
“Do I know you old man? How do you know my name?” She went ahead and used her “I am a tough street kid voice.”
The old man looked at her. He had the glisten of unshed tears in his eyes. She felt a bit uncomfortable as he scrutinized her face. Finally he turned away and shook his head.
“No you are not Eloise!” he said softly. “I cannot find my Eloise. I have lost her. She said she would be here but she is not.
“Great” She thought, “He is a crazy old man. Always, Always I get the crazy ones.”
She laid her head back and closed her eyes. The old man wasn’t finished though.
“Have you seen my Eloise? She was to pick me up here. Every day I come and every day she doesn’t come. Did you see her? You can’t miss her. She is tiny only 5 feet tall with raven black hair and deep blue eyes? Her left eyebrow crooks up like she is surprised but only on her left side. She talks with the voice of angels. Have you seen her? She is beautiful and I have lost her. “
She squirmed on the seat. Other than the whole voice of angels’ thing, the old man could have been describing her. This was way uncomfortable. Maybe she should stand outside. She opened an eye and looked. Nope it was misting even harder, if that was possible. Well, let him ramble. What harm could it do? She would just keep alert.
Let me tell you. My Eloise is so beautiful. Did you know that she was Miss County Fair? Not once, not twice, but three times. Can you believe that a Beauty Queen would have anything to do with me? That is where we met you know. At the Fair. In front of the rabbits. That’s what I did at the fair. I raised rabbits. I was hoping to finally win first prize, never had won first prize before. I was nervous and she came up behind me and said Hi. Near jumped out of the building she scared me, she did.”
“When I got hold of myself I looked straight into the eyes of the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. She was laughing at me, cause I jumped. I punched her on the arm and told her to knock it off. She yelled and grabbed her arm and ran off crying.
She looked at him dubiously.
“You hit her? I thought she was beautiful” She asked
The old man shrugged “I was nine. She was seven. I got into trouble, though, because she went and got her dad. Boy he paddled me hard.”
“He hit you? Wow! Did he get arrested or something?”
“No,” the old man looked confused. “Why would he get arrested? I deserved it.”
“But it wasn’t like your dad it was a stranger. That’s like assault”
“No, no, you deserved a paddle you got a paddle. Besides it was a small town. Everyone knew everyone and trust me my dad found out not too much longer afterwards and I was in even more trouble. Good thing too, never hit a girl again.”
“That’s just crazy. If someone who wasn’t my mom or dad hit me they would go to jail.” She shook her head, “Hey, Eloise came back though didn’t she?”
“Yes she did. She did.” the old man smiled.