***paradise-(Part 3) -Mr. Bronson
by Coach Roth
Every morning the homeless
Would gather outside County General
Like gulls on the early morning beach…
Lounging on the grass
Panhandling the bus stops
Sharing bottles of Night Train.
One old man held court…
Getting special treatment from all
His legs black swollen useless
beneath him…an old pair of crutches.
The others would run his errands
Fetching used doughnuts, cigarettes
They called him Mr. Bronson.
Maria learned all about him.
“He’s been admitted so many times,
they joke about putting a plaque
where he sits. They say he’s
Charles Bronson’s brother.”
“The actor? ”
“Yeah…he’s diabetic, but his brother
won’t help him cause he’s a drunk.”
Coach squinted for a better look…
Leathery wrinkled face like the celeb,
But anyone who spent all day
In the California sun looked
Like a piece of beef jerky with eyes.
“That’s what they say.”
“Well if I don’t get a job soon,
I’ll be hanging with Mr. Bronson.”
“Don’t even say that.”
Maria looked genuinely scared.
“I’ll never let that happen to you.”
Coach tried to laugh it off.
“Someday when you’re rich,
You’ll pass a bum on the street
And he’ll say, ‘Maria’
Remember me? You used
To call me Coach’.
And you’ll say ‘I don’t know you…
Here’s a quarter, now get off my lawn’.”
It didn’t work…tears ran down her face.
“Never, I would never let that happen.”
Coach held her close and tried to
Squeeze the life out of her.
He loved her tremendously,
and he knew she was sincere…
He also knew things change…
And with dead certainty,
He knew the day might come
Just as he described it.
(To be Cont.)