Thursday, October 30, 2008

365 # 101: Half Face

The road leading into the neighborhood where I lived as a kid was a long two-lane stretch, bordered on either side by deep ditches. If a driver ever found themselves in the unfortunate position of having to suddenly swerve to miss an animal, there was practically no place to go. Cars and trucks ended up stuck in those ditches all the time. There was almost no room for a person on foot, but that didn't stop you from walking up and down that road damn near every day. My mom and I would spot you every now and then, your bag slung over your shoulder, putting one foot in front of the other, slowly making your way to wherever it was that you went every day. "There he is" one of us would say. You were an unsettling figure, tall, skinny, and old. You wore a plaid shirt on your hunched frame, a fisherman's hat atop your head, and a bandage across one entire half of your face. I can see you in my mind as clearly as I see this screen I'm looking at right now.

One day, my mom and I were at McDonald's and I had to go to the bathroom. I walked into the men's room and found you standing at the sink washing your face, bandage and all. You turned slowly to look at me and I froze. I was terrified your bandage was going to fall off, and I would see whatever it was you kept hidden under there. I ran out of the bathroom and went back to our table where I told my mom that I'd seen you. She seemed surprised. It was strange to think of you being any place other than Sellers Road. I remember the expression on your face when you looked at me. I think you knew that you were a scary sight, especially to a kid, but you didn't want to be.

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