From the historical novel Long Ride to Paradise
The old man sat on the top step of the weathered porch and watched the movement of children as they played tag and other games. His vision had deteriorated, and he squinted attempting to see. The cataracts had thickened, reducing the children to ghostly apparitions. “Too much time spent in the blazing sun, I reckon.” He could still see their blurry forms and could discern the gayly clad little girls in their summer dresses from the little boys in their shorts and long pants. “Thank God! My hearing is still good,” He thought.
Someone wanted to take a picture with their new-fangled camera. Something called a Brownie. He sat a bit slumped, his hands resting on his thighs. A ninety-year-old…today, April 9, 1934.
His once red hair though full, was now white as the cotton bolls bursting in the fall. His beard, years ago red and sparse, had thickened like his cataracts. White and long, it spread to the middle of his chest. Tobacco juice from years smoking his cheroots, darkened the whiskers at the sides of his mouth.
His gaze shifted to the distant horizon. His once blazing, blue-green eyes had faded but his vision was still sharp…with the images of the past. He smiled at his thoughts. Sometimes he couldn’t remember what day it was, but his memories of times now past were as sharp as the old boning knife he once carried. Again, he smiled, “Old times there are not forgotten.” He spent most of his time gazing back at the past. Mostly he spent his time with the memory of Lucretia, now dead nearly sixty years.
He had been lucky. He had loved three times. Three fine women had warmed his bed and brought him comfort and joy. Lucretia, Cassandra, and Josephine. He had loved them with all his heart. The old man had been unlucky too, he had outlived all three along with his friends.
He cherished the memories of them all, but Lucretia was special. She had been his first…. He liked to see her in the emerald green ball dress their first night at Madam Shailene’s. High waisted, it bared her shoulders and dipped low showing her décolletage. An emerald ribbon held her mother’s cameo and brought attention to her long and slender neck. He remembered slowly taking her out of the dress, pressing his lips to her neck…”Damn I almost felt a stirring.”
Timmy, Tyler James’ youngest sat down beside him. A boy of six, Allen Kell recognized the youngster’s voice when he asked, “Whatcha’ thinking about Grampy?” Timmy was John William’s youngest grandchild. John William was not Allen Kell’s son but his nephew, Brother Arlo, and Stella’s only child and a sack of hell. Allen Kell had sired no children but had been adopted by John William, Adeline, and his brood of ten children and at last count, fourteen grandchildren.
“Timmy, I was thinking about Grammy Lucretia. I wish you had the chance to meet her. She was a special woman.”
“As special as Grammy Josey?” He asked as if he might be worried about Allen Kell’s answer.
“Oh yes, oh yes she was…and Josephine loved you very much.”
“I miss her…’specially her molasses cookies.”
“I miss her too…and her molasses cookies.”
He missed his friends too. All were gone. James, Sean, Arlo and Stella, Alexandre’ and Shailene. Virgil, Eamon…. All had been gone for ages it seemed. “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” from the book Momma Edwards had taught him to read from. He had been here too long. It was time to move on to the great beyond.
All the grandchildren had gathered around his feet, Timmy begged, and the rest agreed, “Tell us a story Grampy.”
Well, maybe it’s not quite time to move on. The grandchildren agreed.
Excerpt for the newly released Tales of the Drunken Irishman: Long Ride to Paradise. It may be downloaded or purchased at
First image is of Marion DeKalb Rodgers, my great, great grandfather. He came home from the Civil War and lived a life nothing like Allen Kell Edwards but was the motivation for the character nevertheless.
Second image is of a “soiled dove” from Pinterest She is not Lucretia Noel but this is fiction anyway https://www.pinterest.com/pin/262475484508164087/
5 thoughts on “The Old Man”
Well written 👍
And what a wonderful photo of your great great grandfather…love that he was the motivation for your writing and this character.
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