Short Stories

Words Have Power, They Are Magic Pt 18

wordsI walked to the park away from the noise of the fire trucks and people shouting.   I found the bench I used to sit on before, before all the craziness. When the wife and came to the park, to walk and sit on the bench and hold hands. It felt like a good place to be so I sat.

I was a bit surprised that the park was still clean and lovely. Still a happy place after all these years, unlike many places I had passed by on my way here. Lie Mr. Chong’s market. Now it was a liquor store, but looked like a jail. There bars on the windows and the door and a disinterested clerk sat behind a counter that was encased in Plexiglas.  I am sure it was bulletproof. Outside a group of kids, none of them older than 14 tried to either get me to buy them a bottle or sell me something that a while back I would have bought, to take the edge off.  When I asked the clerk what happened to Mr. Chong, she just shrugged her shoulders and informed me that she sees so many people how would she know.

Most of the neighbors had that desperate, dirty, greasy feel to them. Not all of the neighbors though. There was a true contrast between the blocks. You could walk for a few blocks through darkness and desperation then the next block would be clean and happy, like the sun shone just on that block. The apartment I used to live in was one of the dark spots; the sun could not break through the shadows of the buildings surrounding it.  They had built much larger building on either side and behind, leaving the apartment building looking dwarfed, frightened, shivering in the shadows.

Not the park, though, it had been maintained.   It was an oasis of happy, cheerful, sunshiny, manmade nature at its best.  Most of the trees were small and perfectly trimmed, looking like popsicles with their little thin trunks and the ball of green on top.  The paths were neatly trimmed with little white rocks and the flowerbeds were full of cheerful freshly planted annuals.  The few older trees were homes to the squirrels that were always looking for handouts and the birds that were always chasing off the squirrels.

The pond itself was lovely. I am not sure if it was a natural pond or not, but it looked natural. The grass ran to the edge of the pond where the kids launched boats, some of them powered some of them leaves and twigs.  The ducks and geese swam away from the children and the people after checking to see if they had bread. No bread  then they were ignored and the birds kept just out of reach.

At night, though, the park was a different place.  As soon as the sun went down it turned from family friendly to adult only. The drug dealers were out in force, the winos came from out of there hiding spots, the whores walked looking for dates, and the dark side trolled for victims.  I was left alone. I am unsure why.  I had sat on the bench this afternoon and I had not moved. I just sat and watched the scenes unfold before me. I really did not know where else to go and the bench was comfortable.

One of the winos came up to the bench looked at me for a bit then sat next to me. Others may have found his smell awful but it didn’t bother me. It was a familiar smell one that I had myself in a previous life.

“Hey” he said. “I know you. I saw you at the shelter. You are the one they say writes the stories. You are the one who made the explosion”
I looked at him. How did he know that? I asked him.

“Well it, is because of the words. You were talking to those people at the meeting last night about the words.

“You were at the meeting?”  I didn’t remember seeing him there.

“Yea they got hot coffee and cookies and it’s free, why not. All I have to do is pretend I want to get rid of my friend Vino.

He laughed. It was a raspy, wheezing sound, humorless, almost scary.

“So I heard ya talking about words power and magic. I believe ya.  I always thought it was so. You had to be careful of what you write down, what you say, what you sign. I was a lawyer. I wrote down the wrong thing and signed it”
I could not believe what I was hearing. Finally, someone who didn’t question me, who didn’t laugh at me, who didn’t serve me with platitudes. A believer.  It made sense to me it would be a wino. I drank to stop it myself, to drown out the truth of it all. Someone who knew the truth would drink so. I mean look what happens when you use the words

“So what did you write that got you here”

He laughed again, the sound slightly creepy, “A confession. I wrote a confession down and I signed it”

He seemed to think that was incredibly funny and he started in a laughing spell, until he started to choke. He pulled out a mostly empty bottle of some cheap brand of wine and drank a sip.  He looked at what was left in the bottle with a sad look, then put it back to his lips, and finished it off. He carefully put his empty bottle back into his coat.

At my look he said, “Got to recycle you know, save the planet and all. “

“You signed a confession?” I was beginning to think I was wrong about him. That he did not know the power, the magic of words.

“Yea. I wrote it down. I was a lawyer. I learned a long time ago that the words I wrote down seemed to be true. It was never as I thought it would be but it was true. If I wrote a document that said a certain person did not do something then it would come out that he did not do that thing. It made my job as a defense lawyer easy.  Word soon got around that I was able to defend anyone so soon the bad guys were lining up and I started to defend the guys who were accused of major crimes, like murder, being a part of the mob. That kind of thing

I got together with well-known kingpins and started to put my money in a few of their “retirement plans: most of them were not quite legal. Kind of like those pyramid schemes.  Anyway we all got caught.  I was the last to be arrested and I found out that the head of it all, the guy whose scheming it was, threw me under the bus, made it look like my fault, my idea, so he could walk.  Well it made me mad. So mad I grabbed their legal pad when they were interrogating me and confessed not only to all the scheming, but that I wished the guy was dead.”

I nodded. I could guess what was going to happen, what he was going to say.

“He turned up dead did he?”

The wino produced another full bottle of cheap wine, twisted of the kid and took a long swig. He offered me a drink. I shook my head no, I had sworn off drink I told him, besides I liked the whiskey.

He continued, “Yea. He turned up dead and since I wished it, I was convicted of murder, and other silly charges.  I spent 10 years in jail before I was able to prove my innocence, that I did not pay for nor did I kill that man. All I did was wish. When I got out, I had nowhere to go, so I came here. Been here ever since.  But I tell you what you said about words is true, so true”

He took another big swig emptying the bottle to the halfway mark. He burped and his head fell to his chest. I nodded again.  The wino had passed out next to me and did not hear me say,

“Yes.  Words have power, they are magic”


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