The Writers Voice
The Wall of Memory
Over in the far corner of the room, old man Lucas could see the restless relics of his past. The ashes of a thousand yesterdays. About this time every evening, as the day drew down to a close, he sat and thought about what he might have been; what he might have achieved if he took the other path -- the one less traveled.
Up on the wall there were one or two faces he seemed to remember. A voice he could recall with pleasure, the caress of a woman's hand on a summer's night many years ago. Strange how one voice and one touch could stay with him so long. He looked down at his hand, its swollen knuckles, its brown spots and its tortured veins and arteries that wandered like aimless streams. Yes, this hand caressed her breast and touched her lips. The same hand had turned off the water, the heat and signed the order of eviction of Anselmo's apartment when he could not pay his rent.
There were books he could remember with affection, even though the light was bad in this room and he could no longer see to read them. But he could feel them in his hand and in his mind he could riffle through their pages -- hear the voices ... "Is Ahab, Ahab? Is it I, God, or who, that lifts this arm?" ... "Who's to doom, when the judge himself is dragged to the bar?" He could not answer these questions, but he could remember them. There was music too ... "how did that song go ... dum-dee-dumble-um ... something like that." He remembered the tune well but he had lost the rhythm of it. His wife was the dancer in the family; light as air. He felt unworthy when he danced with her. People in the room would stop and sit down to watch her dance.
Old man Lucas struggled to his feet, and with the aid of his black malacca cane took two or three tentative steps into the center of the room. In the mind of his imagination he could see the image of the old family house. It was as clear as a bell. He could see it once more, standing alone, lit up like a cruise ship at Christmas. So many happy times in that old house. Holidays. Fires in the hearth. The light in her eyes -- the laughter of the children. No wonder money meant so much to him. How could a man raise a family without the money coming in?
The children! "Yes," he said to himself. "Maybe that was the reason for it all." He stumbled a bit in the middle of the room, and hurried back to the chair. He sat now with the cane across his knees, drumming his fingers on the shiny licorice blackness of it. The children! He sent each of them through college. He sent two through graduate school. That must have been the reason for it all, he couldn't think of any other.
"Then why! Damn it, why!!" How could they do this to him? The least they could
do was come to see him now and then. They put him here so they could get on with
their lives and forget him. They said he'd get his meals on time. They wouldn't
let him forget his medicine -- and most of all he'd be with people his own age.
His own kind.
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