Dream Catcher

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Real Heros . . . Bill

One night I couldn’t sleep, someone haunted my dreams. He came from my past, several years before. I met him when I was in the computer business. A customer, I had sold him a computer. Everyone does things their not proud of, for oh so many reasons. Mine was trying to build a business. Some of us have no business . . . in business, that’s me.

The man of my visions was seventy plus years of age, his name was . He was retired. A friend, his brother in-law had introduced us. Bill lived in a trailer park off a busy street. I remember driving to the trailer park, it sat across from a large cemetery, white markers lined the road. A feeling of sadness entered my thoughts, I didn’t know why, not then.

I turned onto his drive. Shabby trailers lined the pot holed pavement one after the other. I drove by his trailer there wasn’t an open place to park. I continued on, maybe there was another further on, there wasn’t. Turning around, I thought about leaving and running for cover of home, but Bill was standing by his car, a faded green Oldsmobile sat rusting in the drive.

Bill stood motionless, probably wondering if I was there for him. I stopped and opened my window.
“Are you Bill England,” I asked?
“Yes, he said.

His expressionless face never changed. Dressed in faded worn wrinkled clothes, long gray wisps combed over a vacant field of hair. His graying starchy bristles dusted his mouth. A weather beaten face supported a sandpaper growth of several days.

He wanted me to park next to his car, a spot half the size for comfort. Slowly I threaded my GMC into the opening. When I opened my door, I tapped his car, leaving me just enough room to squeeze my oversized frame out of the cab. It felt like removing a wrapper from an old piece of bubble gum. I really needed someone to push on one end and pull on the other, but eventually I got out.
“Nice day,” I said, trying quickly to forget the embarrassing moment.
“Yea, I suppose,” he said.

In my mind I secretly hoped I didn’t mark his old rust bucket. At least he didn’t go over and start examining the car closely. To be honest, I was more concerned that I might have dinged the paint on my door, crappy green on black, great.

There but five minutes and things were already going south. Sometimes we give cherish what we value, but more precise I was concerned how I could possibly make enough from this old man to make all my trouble worth it? Not nearly enough, although I had to keep telling myself I was building something for the future, a business . . . right.

His house trailer was built in another time, many years ago. It was made from dull sheets of aluminum, flat silver patched with gray bondo. Pre-cast steps led directly to the door. Once this trailer might have had designs of sitting at some exotic lake setting, but this was no lake property.

The trailers sat on each other, merely additions to an odd sort of family. Strangers brought together out of necessity, this is what they call low income housing.

Bill showed me in. A black and white TV blared from the corner of his kitchen table. A computer took up the rest of the dinning space. A pull down light altered my view and any traffic in and out of the kitchen area. A half filled pan of water sat on the stove, next to it was an old rounded pink Frigidaire.

Stapled to a doorway leading to the hallway was a sheet of opaque plastic. The entryway led to two bedrooms, one was cluttered with storage. An old window air conditioner sat on the bed.
“Bill was an ,” that’s what Joe said. “But that was long ago. Once married, no longer a father.” . . . I wondered how anyone could no longer be a father. Children die, but I was curious so I asked Joe. “Bill had treated his wife badly . . . . She ran off with the kids. It was Bill’s fault, he didn’t deserve them. That was twenty years ago. Over the years the kids stayed away and he never bothered to see them,” Joe said, “it was for the best.”

Bill was lonely, I knew that instantly.

I was there to help him, to fix his problems he was having with his computer. It was so old, it wasn’t worth it. But what’s worth to anyone, especially when you’re on a . Retirement is such a joke.

Two saw horses sat in his living room, holding up a piece of plywood. Stacked on top were books, pictures and papers.

On the wall was a picture of a group of navy men standing on a ship. Everyone wore their dress blues. He pointed to himself in the picture.

Bill had served on a supply ship in the south pacific. He said he never saw action with the Japs, but I know he wasn’t far away, for on a map I knew that is right where all the action was. He hopped from island to island, right behind the fighting, delivering supplies.

The current historian of their little group had just passed away and Bill was sent all the historic records. He had boxes everywhere. He loved the navy, but I wonder if he had left a big part of himself there long ago. He told me about their five year reunions, Bill never missed one.

Bill is editor of a quarterly news letter for those boys he served with, the ones that are still alive.
“What do you want the computer for,” I asked?
“I bowl in a league,” he said to me. “I want to keep the scores for them.”

Bill showed me a text document he used to compute everyone’s scores each week. He showed me his financials. He had merely hundred thousand in a mutual fund, the type that paid earned interest once a year. His earnings for the year amounted to just eleven thousand, interest and social security.

This year he planned to go on a bowling tournament to Florida. He figured he had just enough to do it.

Bill told me he about his cemetery plot. He said he had just made the final installment. He reached above the TV, pulling down brochure of all in row, each one the same, cars driving by out front. Then I knew they were the ones . . . The ones I had driven by when I came into the trailer park. And everything was set.

Dan Hanosh
Dreams Are Yours To Share


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