Philip A. Farruggio -- World News Trust
He was standing there, in the middle of the school yard, alone.
At first I envisioned him the pitcher, standing by the mound, with a field full of players behind him, and facing him, in the middle of a game.
No, he was standing all alone, dressed in an old winter coat, surrounded by the dying leaves of autumn by his feet.
I watched him from my classroom window as he paced about in the yard. He seemed to be waiting, and even though quite far away, I understood who he was awaiting. And being only 11 years old, I was amazed at myself for such a revelation. I knew just what was happening on this chilly Wednesday afternoon at a quarter to three.
The bell rang, startling no one, as we all had been sitting there, for seemed an eternity, restlessly awaiting it. The sound of it still came across as harsh and abrupt and cold, as if a forewarning to us all this November day. The jail was open, and the inmates were freed, until but tomorrow morning at eight, when this prison would re-engulf us again.
Most of my classmates darted for the exits, swarming into the yard like ants running to a piece of chocolate. I just stood there by the window, gazing out at the sights below. I tried to follow that solitary man, lost now in a mass of adolescents.
Finally, after a few moments, I caught sight of him again. He was walking through the crowds searching for what seemed but one face. And as far as I could see, he hadn't found it yet. I wondered to myself, who was he looking for, this lonely man dressed in that funny worn coat?
I stood up and got my own coat. As I rearranged my books and sorted out my homework, my teacher told me to hurry up as she was ready to lock up. Lock up, I thought, what a sin to be locked up in here all night. All day was enough.
I quickly walked back to the window. The steelyard was emptying out now. Most of the kids were on their way home, to a glass of milk or a bottle of soda, and some cookies. Yet, the man was still there, standing by the pitcher's mound, looking about the yard. He still hadn't found who he was after. Poor guy.
I remember shouting out "good bye Mrs. Steckler" and hurried down the stairs. Got to go, I thought, before they lock me in here. As I reached the school yard doors, I stopped for a moment. Tonight was Wednesday. Mom always made pot roast on Wednesday, and she knew I hated pot roast. Yet, she made it every Wednesday, like clockwork. And I would never eat any, but she made it just the same.
As I pushed open the heavy steel door, his presence startled me! The old winter coat made him look menacing. I jumped back a bit as he smiled at me.
" What took you so long, son? I must have seen every kid but you in the yard."
" Well, I got sort of tied up a bit."
" Oh well, here you are, what the heck."
His hug was so tight, I could not breathe. I could inhale the fabric of that old coat as he kept me in his embrace.
" What's the matter, too old to kiss your old man? Come on son, give your pop a kiss."
We walked on, arm in arm through the school yard. And, as usual, I never got to taste Mom's pot roast on this chilly Wednesday in November.
(Philip A Farruggio is a semi-retired baby boomer born and bred in blue collar Brooklyn NYC. He is the son and grandson of Brooklyn longshoremen, and educated at "free tuition" Brooklyn College, class of '74. Philip has written more than 300 columns since 2001 and his work is found on many fine progressive sites like World News Trust, Nation of Change, Information Clearinghouse, Intrepid Report, Sleuth Journal, Dandelion Salad, Counterpunch and Dissident Voice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)