FOR GOD, COUNTRY, MOM, AND APPLE PIE
The old man seemed not to notice the buzz of the green blow flies as he lifted the lid off the dumpster and flipped it back out of his view…
It was hot. The heat index must have been 110 degrees. The man was sweating profusely. He could hardly stand it. Dan had told him he sure wouldn’t have survived the Nam… and he had agreed, wiping the moisture from his brow only to have it appear again almost immediately.
MacDonald’s shift had just changed and so had the food in their warmers… not to mention their prepared salads from the noontime meal. This sweet dumpster held it all.
Inside there might be food fit for a king… or a trip to the hospital if it had sat too long… you took your chances.
He let his nose judge the freshness of the contents before he stuffed the packages into his crumpled paper bag. Damn, he said… if they’d only toss a few drinks out too but I guess one couldn’t ask for more than was already there… stale hamburger sandwiches and lots of fries… even a few crushed small apple pies… He knew old Dan loved apple pies.
Gently lowering the cover he started with his prizes back down the alleyway from whence he had come… It had been worth the effort today and he smiled as he went along… clutching his bag to his chest.
A small black, and once white, dog pranced out to meet him. “You again,” he said “here you go” tossing a container of fries at the dog’s feet. I know you’re too dang short to reach in that dumpster and git yore own. Now leave me alone; the rest belongs to me and ol’ Dan’.
With that he walked faster down the alley… only slowing when his limp became more pronounced. The smell from the bag spurred him onward. He was tempted to nibble a bit on the way but that wouldn’t be right. Not with Dan countin’ on him to bring supper that night.
Dan couldn’t scrounge like he could, not with both of his legs gone, blown away in a Vietnam jungle long ago. He used to have artificial limbs but they wore out and Dan wouldn’t go about the VA doctors anymore. Dan had told him when they had first met and shared that first bottle that the VA just didn’t understand and he was tired of treatments that went nowhere so he was content to stay here with his friend and sleep in the alley behind the MacDonald’s Restaurant…
“Dan… Here’s to a good meal today, my friend. Apple pie Dan? Dan…?” Dan didn’t answer… Dan would never answer again… It was to be a lonely meal tonight.
©Copyright August 9, 2005 by Faye Sizemore