Cindy Beitinger Cindy Beitinger
Recommendations: 37

"It must have bought a smile to God...." Should be "brought"

John Tucker John Tucker
Recommendations: 4

consider - the dust hung heavy.... consider '...distance as the day began its seamless... personally, offscouring seems too...strange. :-) perhaps 'human refuse' or mortal trash' instead. change one of the 'fitting's near the end to 'securing' to prevent the echo. ''s abandoned state...' should be changed to '...its abandoned state...'

John Tucker John Tucker
Recommendations: 4

perhaps 'tramp' instead of 'wayfarer' to prevent the 'way' echoes.

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Allen Clarke Allen Clarke
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The Roadside Philosophers of St. Augustine Junkyard

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She had a friend.

This piece of writing is a homage to those who do not have a home. I also like to think ,that it will remind the rest of us, of the need to be thankful; that we don`t have to use a stone for a pillow.

Chapter One

The dust hung heavy in the evening dusk. The road is like a ribbon stretching far into the distance as the day begins its`seamless transition into night. The fading glory of yet another sunset tugs at the heart of these homeless. They fall asleep with the stars for their covering most every night. Their evening entertainment is a chorus of singing frogs. Crickets chirp in harmony with nature. Brother Coyote eerily wails at the half crescent moon, as if to say, ``Someone turn off that light!``
At St. Augustine, there is a place where the human refuse of the earth bed down for the darkest hours. There is an abandoned church there. Its`steeple still stands, as well as most of the building itself. It is a testament of this nation`s bricklayer skill. The oaken pews are long gone. Most of which probably grace someone`s front stoop. Curiously, most of the stained glass remains intact. Indeed,it is a pretty sight, to peer through the transluscent colours of the rainbow. It must have brought a smile to God to see these little people bustling around fitting this and securing that. Even in its abandoned state, the architectural glory cannot be easily stolen away by the winds and whips of the natural elements. 2 comments

The hobo trail is all across America. Their mapway is known only to them. The way of the tramp is known only to that secret society. It is hidden in the mists of time ever since men became hungry. Some would say plainly that the call of the open road has never lost its`siren insistency. The vagabond is still alive and living out there.They were born out of the womb of the economically straited environs of the 30`s.
If a man could find a crust of bread, he was in his glory. 1 comment

At St. Augustine, there is , or rather used to be, a once thriving business where men sold junk for much more than any one thing was ever worth. It seemed ridiculous, in a way that men would spend a few dollars less for proportionately inferior and certainly shoddier items as opposed to new. And, yet, everyone agreed, in those days of knawing want, that coin was exceedingly precious.
The junkyard seemed sheltered in the shadow cast by the decrepit, though still beautful church. At least, it was considered as such by its nightly visitors. More than once, some itinerant bum could be seen by the dim flickering nearby firelight as he knelt at the altar of the now deserted decaying temple. No doubt, this nameless individual might have been praying for a better day, or at the least, some unerring guidance. It seemed to be true that the majority of these lost sons did not bear proper identification. So, when they were found, dead, decaying and laying in some culvert, the authorities had quite a time attempting a positive identification. In most cases, they were runaways from some orphanage from way back when. The more criminal type could be traced back to any number of reform schools that dotted the land back in the bad old days.

A faded grey sign creaked and complained as it dangled on one rusty hinge. The sign bore the name of its long-gone proprietor and of the nature of the business. In clumsy, handwritten script the sign faintly expressed these words,`` Samule T. Peebody, Oner an Maniger..Gud, qwuallity Murchindice, Cheep, but Guud.``
Within the interior of the rotting timbers of the by-gone establishment was now the derelict hotel. It was spacious enough to accomodate at least thirty to thirty-five men of the baser sort. The roof leaked like a faulty shower spout on rainy nights. And, yet,it was somewhat bearable, during the harsh winter months. A huge pot-bellied stove burned incessantly, over in the corner, by the fire exit door. The waves of heat bought a homey comfort to the breezy confines of the old shop quarters. All shared a common pot. If one snared a rabbit, into the pot it would go! No selfish hearts were tolerated.

Almost always, there was music. The plaintive strains of,`You are my Sunshine,``could be heard lilting in the evening breeze. Either an accordian, or a harmonica played out the familiar standard. Now and again some black gentleman would make the other campers weep with a sad, soulful song, as played in the Delta blues style on slide guitar. Music was the universal language on the road. When spirits were down, invariably, someone, would come along, to set the night on fire with at least, some relative excitement. Occasionally, of course, some drunken would-be balladeer would lift a sour tune or two. Generally, his grating voice; was augmented with the distant, accompanying wail of Brother Coyote.

And, then there rang the ominous music of the bell. A replica of the Liberty Bell hung in the tower of the church. It was tarnished to a dull grey, but, it served its dubious service most handily. Its` sudden, hollow donging was the echoing warning which resounded to one and all, when the local authorities would come calling in the middle of the night. To say the least, it was a lifesaver! Mind you, when the frigid pinch of Autumn came calling, most men would gratefully accept shackles against the frosted face of Old Man Winter. At least, they would not starve, or freeze out there somewhere in No Man`s Land. Some even went as far as to steal a candy cane just to find a warm place to hole up, be that, as it may, in an incarcerated state.

Chapter Two

Belvedere Beauchamp came strutting up the road in all of his gentlemanly glory. Even though, he did not have two plug nickels to rub together, he still oozed the panache of a man who had once been a person of high pedigree and of considerable means. He wore a dirty, black top-hat and a weathered dinner tuxedo and he flowed gracefully toward St. Augustine in a long, flowing gentleman`s cape. The stock market crash, earlier that year, had wreaked insufferable loss on his estate. Beauchamp, held a stiff upper lip, about the whole damn fiasco; unlike his jelly-fish vertebrae compatriots. He saw many of them plunge to their deaths once they discovered that their reason for living was gone in a brief smidgeon of time.
Overnight, billionaires became paupers. Those who decided to live on, lined up daily, across a once proud America, for skimpy rations of week old bread and tasteless soup not fit for swine. His wife of thirty years left him. She could not bear the thought of parting with her rather substantial allowance. The sum of which had afforded extravagant luxuries, on the same grand scale; as the famed Queen of Sheba had enjoyed. She had adored her exquisite French perfumes. Now, at last report, she had resorted to using baby powder talcum to disguise the stench of poverty.

All the other tramps, looked on as Beauchamp approached all the more closer.
``Well, well, well, would you look at what`s coming down the road, it`s Little Lord Flaunteroy!``
At that, all the rest of the cronies burst out in a chorus of cackles. Nevertheless, they pretended that they were all enjoying a private joke. Their joke approached still closer. Never before had they seen such a dapper gentleman. Well, at least, they assumed he was a gentleman.
As he approached the firelight of the campfire, his image began to take a more sharply defined form and appearance. Even in the way he carried himself, they silently aquiesced that this was a tramp who meant business. They saw the glint of a monocle at forty yards. At thirty, they witnessed that he wore white dinner gloves which gripped an ivory cane with a silver-tipped ornamental handle. At twenty, they noticed the shine of elegant black and white brogue shoes. Upon his wide shoulders, he carried a grey knapsack with his initials hand-stitched on the exquisitely embroidered hand-straps. A huge tin cup , finely crafted, and hanging by a singular, leather- braided thong, chimmed and changled, as he swayed rythmically toward the stupifified gathering of ruffled derelicts.

`Ho! the camp!``thundered Beauchamp.
The Flaunteroy commentater almost jumped out of his worthless,unwashed and thusly; stenched dungarees.
``, evenin``guvna !``said the leader of the pack. Samuel Schneider did not know what else to say. Obviously, he was taken aback, by such a flambouyant individual. Besides, old Sam`s head was always in the clouds; thinking of ways to make sausages of every sort. Schneider had this outlandish notion of prepared luncheon meats processed to last for weeks at a time. All manner of once well-heeled gentlemen mingled with certain ruffians of the baser sort at St. Augustine. For the Great Depression had equalized all men.
There was a young man of secret ambition amongst the crowd, sitting there in the shadows keen to listen to every word. He had a burning dream in his heart; to one day, become the richest man in the entire world. His name was Howard Hughes. Apparently, it was known, by all, that he had a brainchild, to start a tool company, for starters. The others laughed at his little plans. The rest, only lived for the immediate gratifications, albeit, the necessary, simpler ones, such as food and shelter.

The fancy visitor finally came into full view. He seemed to almost resemble the Planters peanut man. That, is, if anyone had ever read that particular label. Of course, peanut butter was hard to come by in these lean times. Bread, upon which to lavish the p.b., was also somewhat of a luxury.

``So, my friends,``came the out-of-place, elegantly phrased inquiry,``What is the cost for a night`s lodging here?``
``Nuttin, Mister, absolutely nuttin! Got anything for the common pot?``
``Excuse, me good sir?``
``Got any weinies, or anything?``
``Oh, I see what you mean.``Beachamp said as he surveyed the pathetic survivors of the Great Famine.
They sat around the glowing stove, men of every stripe and pedigree. There were a few women there, as well. Bag ladies and some who had once dined royally. Beachamp still had a working discernment of eye between the two classes of wretches. Of course, everyone was on an equal par these days. Still, of late, most of the current gathering had been eyeing the meat on a scruff who had wandered into camp.

``Not even a bag of peanuts, maybe, Guvna?`This wise crack was met with howls of laughter!
``Well, actually, I may have three loaves and two fishies in my napsack!``Belvedere offered, alluding to the feeding of the teeming and the starving.
``Haw! haw! haw!``was heard drifting in from a smoky corner. A young man with dark sunglasses emerged out of the murk of shadow. He struck a near dead center resemblance to Bob Dylan. He was singin`something about blowing in the wind.

Beauchamp pulled out his rapier from the case and the blade glistened in the twilight. With this dangerously threatening weapon, he skewed a couple of weinies and threw a package into the common pot. With that generous gesture, he suddenly found himself surrounded by a motley throng of new friends.

Chapter Three

``Where ye`be blowin`in from, streenger?``said the bell ringer. His name was Qwazi Moto, a Japanese descendent of Emperor Hito. His slightly slanted perspective on life gave away his Oriental heredity. He would jump an inch off the ground when he heard a backfire from a passing Model T, or rumbling grain truck, now used for hauling migrant farm workers. For that reason, everyone assumed that, perhaps, he had once been a military man, howbeit,that he had fought on the wrong side. Nevertheless, they forgave and forgot. Scarcely, was race an issue here in the shadow of the St. Augustine steeple. Most evenings, one might catch a glimpse of Qwazi`s hunched profile,high against a glowing of the sunset. He practically lived in the tower that housed the rusting replica,of the Liberty Bell. As well, he would teach Tai Chi, to whatever bum,that had the patience to learn the various forms. He lived on noodles and fried rice, they say.

``I`m from parts unknown to all but, yours truly. I`m an easterner, just as you are, my fine, weathered friend.``Beachamp offered the scantest tid-bits of personal info.

Every,once upon a time gentleman, and; every scruffed up scalawag, respected each other`s personal idiosyncracies. It was the unspoken law of the junkyard. If a feller was friendly enough, he would then have friends here in this temporary sanctuary, far from the madness of the starving world. Iffen, he wasn`t, some of the fellers would oblige and gives im the old heave-ho in any general deerection down the road that meanders to nowhere, in particular. They were like a family in some ways, because many of them were indeed orphans, and loved the milk of human kindness which flowed liberally from the teats of St. Augustine Junkyard.

In short, most who visited there, felt, quite, at home, if only for a short time, and then they would be gone. Once, the tried and true tramp hears the siren call of the open road, six wild horses, cannot keep him off the trail. Many, a native son, could be seen, on most mornings, rising up to leave camp, packing up their meager belongings, on a bag secured to a stick, slung over their shoulder, and heading for their destiny in the sun. Many`s the time that the keeper of the camp would find a,``Thank ye```note scrawled out, to everyone, in general, and to no one, in particular.

And, invariably, there would be the poets and the philosophers. There were myriad educated bums that gathered there to discuss, persuade, and debate, if need be, everything; from the writings of Plato to the the much disputed theories of Charles Darwin. Mind you, the common man might find himself in a dither in trying to understand these deep things which seemed to flow so effortlessly from the lips of these educated starving. Perhaps, these once highly educated,one time elitists, felt that they needed to argue and persuade to keep the hunger pangs at bay, somehow.

In the fire-light glow, one aspiring thespian thought that he might give a reading from the Bard`s Hamlet that evening.He holds up the familiar skull,instantly evoking Shakespeare`s often quoted lines. With a dramatic flourish,he breathes life into the scene of the man talking to the bones of his dearly departed friend.
``Ah, yes, poor Eurich, I knew him well!``he savoured the words as one might linger over a bowl of steaming beef stew.
``Ppoooook!``went someone in the shadows releasing his flatulence into the mist of the evening. High culture seemed so out of place amongst the dregs of humanity. These were pickpockets,thieves, confidence men, and prostitutes. Some were even rumoured to have murdered along life`s narrow way. And some were slowly murdering themselves. Some packed weapons of every sort. One certain gentleman, of questionable character, packed a sharpened fork, which he said he packed in his gunny, for occasions ``when cutlery might be scarce.``

There were poets there too. That same evening, a young dapper gentleman wooed the ladies with a newly finished work of recent writ.
``The northern lights have seen queer sights
  But the queerest I ever did see
  Was the night on the barge of Lake Margie...``

Stopping for a reflective moment,and with a few scratches of his quill, he decides to change,``Margie``to La Marge, instead.

Chapter Four

     One could see the glint of his monocle as Beauchamp sighed whilst he roasted his weinie over the flickering flames of the open fire. He quietly savoured the memory of dining elegantly at The Bevonshire Club, just off of Fifth Avenue and Vine. Ah, yes, those were the days, for the man, no doubt. Now, it was a constant tinny diet of sardines and cold beans. Due to the extenuating circumstances of those straited times, he had grown quite proficient with the can opener. He missed Jeeves. The butler at Grand Manor had been an excellent servant. And, now, Beauchamp had learned perforce the fine art of survival on the open road. Still, in his memory, his vision of home and hearth had warmed him during this bitter winter of his life.

     Grand Manor was the ancestral home for the Beachamps for two hundred years. It was a grand old mansion. `Belvy`, as he was known, back then,was an adventurous lad, and had romped freely all around their sprawling estate. He fairly resembled the famed Blue Boy. His mamma dressed him exquisitely in fine satin and creamy ruffled sleeved shirts. One could often spy him skipping down the cobblestone driveway rolling a hoolah-hoop.

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