Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Wizard of Peachtree Bend

He was the wizard of Peachtree Bend. At least that’s what his friends called him. He could tell you facts about anything that came up in conversation, and that irritated them, his friends. It didn’t matter if you were talking about the weird bird that had come to Bonnie Sue’s birdfeeder, or what was under the hood of Jimmy Johnson’s race car, Harold could go on and on with little known facts on the subjects. Most of the gang believed he was making it up.

Harold, the wizard, also loved to look at the stars. That is why he often brought his telescope to the park at night. He didn’t look like a wizard, but wore the garb of a biker: leather jacket, dew rag, jeans, and black boots. He strapped the telescope to the back of his bike, and after dark when most of the people who crowded the small square during the day had moved down to the riverfront clubs and night life, he drove to the square and set up the scope. The park had a statue of a figure on a horse. Harold knew it was General Braxton E. Fiddler, a local hero from the War Between the States. Not many people had ever heard of him. They had to read the sign at the base to learn he’d been killed in a small skirmish which had taken place on the very ground that was now the park. A park where shoppers sat down to rest and an old homeless guy played his saxophone for small change. The saxophone player used some of the change to buy peanuts that he shared with the pigeons that pooped on General Fiddler’s hat.

But at night Harold could look at the stars in peace. He didn’t have to impress the General with his knowledge of planets and constellations, and the pigeons had gone to nearby trees to roost for the night. No, there was no distractions, no one to guess how damn lonely he was since Jeanine left him twenty-five years ago. Sometimes he thought of the blood that had been spilled on the ground where he stood, peering though the lenses that brought the universe so close it seemed he could reach out and touch the moon and the stars. Sometimes he wished he’d been there, lying at the feet of General Fiddler, watching the life ooze out of him. How much blood did it take before there was not enough to sustain life? He used to know. He’d have to look that up so if it were to come up in conversation he could tell his friends, and impress them with his knowledge.

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