Friday, December 2, 2011
A Young Man and an Old Gentleman
The road the young man traveled on was winding and confusing but he soon found himself on a small side road where he met and old gentleman sitting on a bench. The old gentleman was dapperly dressed as if he was going to be attending a function but his clothing was worn and dirty. The young man approached him and asked about his attire. The old gentleman started off by telling the young man a tale of mystery and history. He said that he had been where he was for a long time and that he had a glorious past. The young man was full of love and hope because that was all he could muster in his trying time, listened carefully to the tales the old gentleman told him and because of his mysterious demeanor found himself entranced with what he heard. He left the old gentleman and went back home filled with questions.
In between doctor visits with his wife and ordealing consultations with specialists about his unborn son, the young man spent all of the rest of his free time digging deeper into the story the old man had told him. He went back time and time again to that side street and talked more with the old gentleman and eventually made up his mind that he would help the old gentleman regain that told of glory even though the old gentleman never asked. He spent countless time at the old gentleman's side learning the stories and making them his own and tried to clean up the old gentleman's appearance so that he could find others that would help him on his new found quest and not be put off by the worn and dirty attire. His dedication to save the old gentleman was a reflection of the young mans need to gain control of something in a world that seemed to be going out of his control. The complications his unborn son had seemed to increase with every doctor visit and the young man yearned for something to anchor him.
The day of his sons birth came all too soon and the young man was not able to go and be with the old gentleman for a while. He spent days and months in the hospital tending to his sick son. The young man never stopped thinking about the old gentleman and he wondered why the old gentleman, who had said they were friends, never reached out to him in his time of need but he made an excuse up in his mind that the old gentleman was just set in his ways and couldn't leave the place where he always was. His son lost the battle with the problems he was born with and the young man had to do something no man should ever have to, bury his own child. At the funeral the young man saw the old gentleman in the crowd and the old gentleman expressed his sympathy as he had found out about the death in the newspaper. The sight of the old gentleman warmed the young mans heart and reaffirmed his dedication to saving him.
Soon after the death the young man feverishly set about mending the old clothing and polishing the worn shoes so that the old gentleman would shine again. At times the dedication to the old gentleman took much of his time but the young man desperately needed something old and grand to tie himself to because he had lost something beautiful and young. Visitors began stopping by on the side road because of the refreshed appearance of the old gentleman to sit and hear his stories and the young man who took them for his own told them with pleasure. The old gentleman never said anything and was pleased to be looking good again and allowed the young man to do everything he wanted and tell his stories. He was getting attention again and the glory seemed to be returning.
One day the young man was on his way to the side street where the old gentleman was always, began to think that if he could only get the old man on the main road and off the beaten path they could have that grand event that the old gentleman was dressed for and bring the new visitors along. He began to plan and seek out a better place for him on his own and traveled around to do so. The young man found out that the old gentleman had actually been in different places in the past and he talked to him to try to convince him of the benefits of a move. The old gentleman in his ever mysterious ways never struck down the ideas but just sat back and let the young man run with his plans.
There were not many places where the young man could find residence for the old gentleman because of his finances. Every option the young man presented was either not suitable or too expensive for the old mans means. This went on for years. The young man seeking something bigger in his life to hold onto to fill the void left in his heart with the death of his son made it his mission to find a place for the old gentleman he loved, to be seen for his glory by everyone. The young man knew a story of a well where the old man used to refresh himself and went there to find out more. When he got to the well he came across another old man and introduced himself. This old man was not as old as the old gentleman he knew and he was dressed like the old gentleman but in a suit of a different era. His suit was not worn out and old and the young man soon found himself meeting and talking to this new old man often. He was not quite as graceful as the old gentleman but he had the same mysterious way. The young man came to find out that the two men were brothers and had a falling out long ago but were still on talking terms. The well where the other old man was, was pretty and seemed like the perfect place to move the old gentleman to and although he had some trepidation the young man agreed to talk to the old gentleman about reuniting with his long lost brother. In consequent meetings with the old man at the well, the young man was promised that if he was able to bring the old gentleman to the well they could enjoy the refreshment of its sweet water.
He went back to the old gentleman, who was leery at first of his long lost brothers intentions, but since he had been cleaned up and seemed to be back on the path to glory with many visitors he reluctantly agreed to go and meet with him because he wanted to entertain. The young man took the old gentleman to this meeting and was thrilled to have finally made some ground on what he thought was necessary to restore glory to the old gentleman. The old brothers embraced each other and agreed that their falling out was long behind them and that they could reunite and the old gentleman could remain at the well with his brother.
The young man drank the sweet water from the well with the brothers but as he was sipping the refreshment he noticed something about the old man from the well that he hadn't before. Although his clothes were newer and looked great from the front he could see that they were not of the same quality of the old gentleman's and were haphazardly stitched together in the rear. This stopped him from drinking and the young man was terrified that he had done something wrong but the two brothers continued to drink deeply from the well. The old gentleman after some time at the well felt his confidence return and the young man was believing that although the old gentleman's brother had a false facade his heart was in the right place. Reunited with his brother and feeling good again the old man began to distance himself from the young man and soon made the decision that he no longer needed his help. He never told the young man this because he was afraid that if he offended him that the young man would flee altogether but slowly and surely it became evident to the young man that he was the third wheel at the well. The visitors continued to come and be entertained but the old gentleman began to tell his own stories again and pushed the young man away.
The young man was heartbroken with what had happened. He loved the old gentleman and had dedicated many years to learning his stories. After such a long time the young man had filled the void of his loss, with the glory of the old man and when the glory seemed to return he began to feel healed but the ostracism opened the wound. Looking back, the young man realized that he had invested so much in the old gentleman he had actually missed many things with his own family. His mind was constantly thinking of how to improve the old gentleman's situation even more so than the old gentleman and when he was pushed aside he was able to see the situation for what it was worth and he was resolved to the fact that he would let the welfare of the old gentleman return to his own hands.
He was approached by some of the visitors that he had brought to the old gentleman who asked the young man to return to his side and tell his story again because they liked the way he told it. Although the wound in his heart was still fresh he was lifted by the pleas of the visitors and he approached the old man at the well and asked him what he should do for his brother. The old man at the well lavished him with praise and thanked him for reuniting him with his brother and told him to bring the visitors by for the big event that the old gentleman deserved. With the good will he received from the brother the young man approached the old gentleman with new found hope and told him that he wanted to have the big event that they had always talked of. The old gentleman did not say a word. He sat there drinking the water from the well and just stared at the young man. His brother had told the old gentleman that the young man meant to harm him and the big event was a trap to ensnare the old gentleman and that he needed to just trust his brother so that they would be okay. The old gentleman, in his shined shoes and washed outfit, believed the brother and made a plan with him to embarrass the young man in front of the visitors to put him in his place.
The young man had come to visit his old friend and saw the brothers talking at the well and although he didn't hear everything they said he believed something was afoot but since the long about event was about to occur he carried on.
The night came and the visitors were gathered in great numbers but the young man was late because of family obligations. When he arrived the old gentleman was with his brother at the pretty well drinking deeply of its water. The visitors met the young man with a great welcome and applauded his effort at returning to tell the story of the old gentleman at his side but the young man noticed that the old man from the well had brought some of the visitors to drink from its waters. When the time came to begin the event and the gathered waited for the stories to begin the old man pushed the young man away and told them on his own and his brother began to chime in. Some of the visitors were astonished at what had happened but the young man who had spent so much time with the old gentleman did not leave but sat there and listened to the stories he loved. When the event was finished he hugged the old gentleman who glared at him with distrust, thanked him for his stories and walked to the pretty well to rest. From the lip of the well the young man watched the brother pat the old gentleman on the back for what he had done and then he looked down into the well and saw something he had believed was true but was not sure of.
At the bottom of the well in the moonlight he could see a venomous snake. It looked up at him and smiled an evil grin as it spit its venom into the water. The young man realized that in his rush to fill the emptiness of his lost son he had led the old gentleman, who was content to live in his worn out clothes on his side street content to exist as he was, to a poisoned well. He had suspicions before but now he knew. As he walked away saddened by all that had occurred he watched the old man from the well empty his cup behind his back before toasting the old gentleman who drank deeply of the water that will eventually kill him.