Lost and Found

I came across a paper I wrote in college about 20 years ago.  Ironically, the title was Lost and Found.

The old man was dressed in a tattered overcoat and filthy pants.  His shoes were different in both size and color.  A grisly salt and pepper stubble shadowed the worry lines carved into his face.  He sat with his head in his hands alone on a park bench in the shade of an ancient oak.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I’ve lost my son.” rolled off his chapped lips.  “Tommy was out with his friends celebrating their basketball fame and a drunk smashed into their car.  He was such a good kid.  They had just picked him up…five minutes before…if they had only come in for a Coke or something…”

I felt helpless, shook my head and walked away not feeling very gay.

The young woman was frantic.  Her short legs sped her around the shopping mall. Her pink sweatsuit was a blur as she ducked her head into one store after another.  In her frenzy, she collided into me.  In the corners of her brown eyes were the beginnings of tears.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I’ve lost my son!” she snapped back.  “Have you seen him?  Ben’s four years old with brown hair and a navy blue jacket.  God, I swear I just ducked inside the changing room to see how this jacket looked.  I told him not to move.  Where is he?  He’s wearing blue sneakers and jeans.  Have you seen him?”

I told her I hadn’t, shook my head and walked away.  Curiously, now I was looking for Ben too.

The young man was wearing a plain black jacket, pants and shoes.  He was alternating his attention between a small piece of paper, the street signs and the buildings surrounding him.  His motions were quick and erratic.  H would walk one direction, stop for a moment, spin around and proceed in the opposite.  As I approached him I caught a glimpse of a small white collar around his neck. 

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I’m lost, my son.” he replied in a soft voice.  “I am supposed to be at St.Mary’s today.  This is my first assignment since I left the seminary.  Do you know where St. Mary’s is by any chance?  I’m really running late.  Not a good first impression I’m afraid.”

I pointed him in the right direction and sent him down two blocks, right a block and up a block.

“Are you Catholic by any chance?” he inquired as he turned back toward me.

I told him I wasn’t, shook my head and walked away.

Walking into my parent’s home I could smell apple sauce cooking on the stove and hear Mr. Coffee perking.  My father was dressed in his weekend clothes; an old and torn pair of blue jeans and an old stained dress shirt with the sleeves cut off, now demoted to gardening and cooking.  With his feet up on the corner of the table and the omnipresent coffee mug in his hand, he was shouting at the football game on the television.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I’ve lost, my son.” was his answer.  “Your brother bet me ten bucks that Boston College would beat Notre Dame.  I was sure that BC would lose.  I can’t believe they pulled it off!  I tell you I don’t mind paying Scott the money half as much as his gloating over taking a few bucks from the old man.  Did you see any of the game?  Unbelievable.  What a game.”

I told him I hadn’t, shook my head and decided to sit awhile with him. 

By brettdownsconspiracy