All the Lonely People
By Sally Madison
Eleanor, with hunched shoulders, shuffled as she carried a brown paper sack that leaked juice from a smashed tomato, when the sack split, freeing the eggs, bread, and rice in front of the church. She collapsed to her knees with a burst of tears, in frustration. Slowly, she was picking up the rice, when she noticed the doors of the church. Tears welled in her eyes, as she remembered the dream, as if it were yesterday.
A grubby man with the shaggy beard, wearing the same clothes since spring, stared at the little boy. Uncomfortable with the man’s presence, the boy ran back to his mother. The mother cautiously assessed the man as harmless, at first, but thought differently, as time went on… as the man continued to watch the boy. With increasing frustration and anger, she finally gathered the picnic dishes and Kool-Aid thermos, stuffed them in the hamper, and threw them into the back of the station wagon. Reaching across the picnic table for the prize, his dog-tags dragged through the spilt ketchup, as he grabbed the abandoned hot dog. His eyes lit up in wonderment, when he spotted another heavenly treat. Gently, he picked up the precious find. The memories of this treasure brought tears to his eyes. How long had it been, since he had tasted… a marshmallow?
A brunette stood on the corner, waiting, with sullen face. The red fringe of her panties could be seen through the slit of her tight short skirt. She put on her best smile and bent forward, trying to create more cleavage than her push-up bra and adolescent breasts could produce above the low-cut top, as each expensive car went by. Pulling out her compact, she gently pressed fresh powder on the purple spot on her cheek that had been created by the diamond-ring of a backhand. Her eyes were still red and swollen from the pain, and tears. Another car cruised by. She awkwardly walked to the curb in her too-high-heels, just like the ones her Barbie doll wears.
A drop-out sat leaning against a tree, with splayed legs in dirty, ripped jeans, his arms too heavy to move, knuckles cut and bloody. The holes in his KEDS showed no socks, but dirty toes, while the white t-shirt had since turned gray, with yellow-stained arm pits. His shaggy hair nearly covered his stoic eyes, but not the crystal salt tear residue on his cheeks.
A man in black entered the diner sideways to accommodate his rotund body, and sat at his favorite table near the window, table number 5. At table 2 sat Mr. Brown, at 4 sat Mr. Maddocks and at 9 sat Mr. Felner. Each tipped his hand or fork to Father McKenzie, as he passed by, every evening.
While stuffing his cheeks from the bread basket, Father McKenzie couldn’t swallow. He reached for his wine glass, as his throat closed. Choking, his eyes became bulged and welled with tears.
…where do they all come from?