a tale of tails, tenacity, and tedium, as told by me, usually barefoot and bellowing

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Colorful Character In Town

Growing up there was a man that had a love for drink.  The town tried to intervene and made alcohol difficult to come by.  With no alcohol he would drink cooking vanilla or strain liquid shoe polish through white bread for the cherished alcohol that remained.

His thoughts of grand conspiracies moved him to run for Town Treasurer.  In the parade he wobbled along with the campaign convertible filled with candy and cards he passed to the holiday crowd leaving a drift of whisky air in his wake.  He was not elected but every one shook the hand he offered.

The town endured Robert and on sober days he ate meals with friends.

You could find him around the court square with shirt tale half tucked into his khaki pants standing with an air of attempted respectability.  Robert tried.  Some days he did better than others but the town kept him fed and safe like a mascot or our token town drunk.

I noted an emptiness in town when Robert left and wondered if he died.

No, he had a job at the VA hospital gathering wheels chairs as seriously as he has once gathered alcohol.

I miss him.

Poetry Jam

22 comments:

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

Wow..you know, coming from a small town too, I wonder if all towns don't have one. This post brought back so many memories our with his tin can going from store to store down main street collecting money for ...something..we were never sure what. Sometimes little kids made fun of him and were scolded. I had married and moved away but heard when he died.
Alcohol. What a destroyer of life and pride and happiness it can be.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

There are characters everywhere but, somehow, in small towns, they are more visible and, perhaps, better supported. Sounds like this town did well by Robert - glad he found a good job that he enjoyed.

Sumana Roy said...

sometimes a person becomes a part of the place where he lives..he is badly missed when he leaves...it's good that Robert was employed at last...

alan1704 said...

The power of acceptance and the value of worth. This modern day parable hits home at so many spots, great tale.

Saucy Kodz said...

WE had such a fellow here in our small town. His name was "Walking Wally" for good reason. He was most polite, tried to be clean and had the greatest smile and blue eyes ever granted a person and was most gentlemanly when he paused to say hello.
Unlike Robert, "Walking Wally" passed away just over a year ago. I miss seeing that smile and it didn't seem to matter what part of town one was in - he was always walking by. Nice character story Gail. By the way, I haven't told you about "Jungle Jane" yet.......and then there's "Charlie Brown" - another time. Have a wonderful day. Hugz to M.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

He might be missed, but he managed to do something better with his life.

Country Gal said...

I think all towns have a Robert in them all though I don't go to town enough to see one lol ! Great story though , Thanks for sharing . Have a good day !

Brian Miller said...

awww...i would miss him as well...it is interesting how these characters capture our hearts....we had two homeless that got married a few years ago...and you would think it was royalty....cause everyone knew them, so their wedding made the front page of the paper...

Magaly Guerrero said...

Who wouldn't miss such a character... The imagery at the end of the first stanza are gut ripping serious. Wow.

Sandra said...

you tell a story so well... i can see this character in my head.. my alcoholic uncle used to drink vanilla flavoring or anything with alcohol in it. bob's wife drank that and even rubbing alcohol. she died at age 44 from it.

Linda Kay said...

Having familiarity with alcohol abuse, I feel so for this man...such a struggle without some support from those who understand the challenge.

TexWisGirl said...

truly a tough thing but you wrote it well.

Peggy said...

What a compassionate portrait of someone who else where might have been shoved aside. Happy ending or at least a hopeful one.

McGuffy Ann Morris said...

I think these characters make up our neighborhoods, towns, and cities. I can even still recall those from my childhood. I enjoyed meeting this one, too.

McGuffy Ann Morris said...

I think these characters make up our neighborhoods, towns, and cities. I can even still recall those from my childhood. I enjoyed meeting this one, too.

Sketching with Dogs said...

I bet that was a lot healthier for him!
How does someone survive drinking shoe polish?
Lynne x

Gabriella said...

I too like the happy ending. You drew a subtle and judgement free portrait of this local character.

Arkansas Patti said...

That man was so lucky to live in your town and was treated kindly and not judged harshly. You told his story with out criticism.
Kudos that he found purpose with his life.

Eileen T O'Neill ..... said...

Gail,

Robert was indeed a true local character. you related his story well and I'm pleased that he found some reward in later employment...

Eileen

Mary said...

I really liked this story. I can't imagine what lengths some people would go to for alcohol...Poor Robert. But good that eventually he seems to have sorted his life out and turned into a helpful person. I hope he found out along the way that he didn't need to drink. You really shared a nice 'local' story. Thank you.

Truedessa said...

I am glad Robert found a job and I hope he no longer needs the crutch of alcohol. Thanks for sharing the story.

Anita said...

Alcohol is addictive. Hope Robert stays away, else his health can be threatened.
You have fond memories. Cities are defined by places of interest & also such interesting people...

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