Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I met with him for only a few minutes, which was more than I would have expected to spend with a man so sullen and seemingly comprised of tallow and resignation. He had been drinking, heavily. Alcohol fumes blasted from his nostrils, encased us in a cocoon of strong vapors. Still, through all the slovenly and over-worn appearance there was something about him that pulled me into the glue that was his wisdom and authority. He cast a voice of otherworldly quality, one which belied the obvious physical condition of the being before me. He began by telling me to lose the beard, or the pathetic sprout of what may, or may not, grow into a respectable beard.
He was aware of the list, but did not mention how he came about this knowledge.  I asked and the response was a barely negligible head shake, coupled with an expression of minor disgust. He clutched at the pockets in his pants and shirt, searching of a cigarette, but found none. I told him I didn’t smoke, which drew a quick, “No. I should have known. Rather than being a fool who kills himself with smokes, you want to be the idiot who runs with the bulls or dives off high cliffs.”

This stunned me, pushed my senses to a place between anger and fear. Fear that this drunk, this unknown person would dare be so familiar with my personal affairs, and speak to me about them.

He continued, “Young men have the will and the ability to do what they want. Very old men are useless, without will, without ability. You, however, are a danger to others and yourself. You have the will, but not the ability. Go revise your list. Stay alive as long as you can.”  Then, he turned and walked away. I have not seen him since.

I did revise the list, removing Pamplona and La Quebrada. If a piece of paper could speak, it would tell me of its disappointment. However, that disappointment would be a fraction of my own. Perhaps a simple solution to be considered is to add one of the items back to the list, but place it at the end. Then, if the man was right, the bucket would be empty when that last item was crossed off.

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