Feeding the Fowl
I took a seat on the park bench next to my old friend.
He was sitting with his legs crossed. His beard was longer and, like mine, whiter than before. Otherwise, he looked like the same gentleman from years past.
He said, “It’s nice seeing you again. It’s been a long time. It’s a shame you don’t come around much anymore.”
“Yes,” I said. “I’ve found some other places to go around. Places I’ve come to prefer more than here.”
“Well, it’s good to see you again. And I’d like to see more of you,” he said. “We used to spend so much time enjoying one another’s company.”
I paused to watch a hound sniffing around an oak tree.
Then I asked, “Are you curious where I go around now?”
“Oh, sure,” he said.
I told him, knowing he didn’t care. I told him of the park I go to now which has a shimmering lake filled with golden carp and ducks and geese.
He said it sounded delightful. He said maybe I’d take him there someday.
I replied that he could take himself. I told him I could write him directions right then and there.
“No,” he said. “No need. I’ll just sit here and wait for you to come and get me and show me this other place. It is what any good friend would do.”
“Then you’ll be waiting a long time,” I said. “I don’t come around here much anymore. You’ll be wasting a lot of time waiting, instead of at this other place feeding the ducks and geese and the carp. Besides, if you take yourself there, we are likely to see one another again, over at the new place.”
“Oh, how I enjoy feeding the fowl. It’s such a shame they’ve left this place,” he said.
“Yes. A shame,” I said. “Which is the part of the reason I found a new place.”
My friend paused, perhaps to think about this new place.
When he finished, he said, “It would be really good seeing more of you. It’s been such a long time. I go so long without having anyone to talk to.”
“Okay,” I said. “But I don’t come around here much anymore.”
“It would still be good seeing you,” he said.
“Then what is your plan for making that happen? And what is your plan for getting back to enjoying feeding the fowl?”
“I told you it would be nice seeing you, so I suppose I’ll sit here and wait for you to come around again. I suppose I’ll sit and wait again for some conversation with you and for you to take me to feed the ducks and the geese.”
“That’s you plan?” I asked. “To wait?”
“Yes” he said.
“How has that worked out so far?”
“Not too well,” he said. “It’s been a long, lonely time, sitting here waiting for you or the geese to return.”
“You don’t think it might be time for another plan?”
“Though it’s terribly lonely, still, I like waiting around here,” he said. “I don’t like going anywhere else, since this place has become so much of what I know. In fact, it has become almost all and the only thing that I know.”
I said I understood. I raised from our bench to leave. I took my cane and lowered my hat to the sun.
“So maybe I’ll be seeing you around here again?” he asked.
“I will leave you to your waiting to see how your aged plan continues to unfold. And then, maybe, someday, you will learn something from all of your waiting.”
“Thank you,” he said. “It was really good seeing you.”
“I hope it was good enough to last a long time,” I said. “Because it may be a while.”
I thought to offer to my old friend the biggest reason for my likely, lengthy absence.
I thought to add, “It may be a while since I much prefer tending to the ducks and geese and carp than men, even old friends, behaving as helpless children.”
But I refrained. He was sad and lonely enough as it was. I didn’t wish to be cruel to my old friend on top of that.