The kids in the neighborhood never paid him much mind, even when he was around. Old Mr. Charon was a quiet sort of old man. He seemed to just appear on the corner whenever he was needed; before and after school, and then he would be gone again. He did his job dutifully, seriously, and soberly. He had to.
Everyone called him “Old Mr. Charon,” but in truth, he was older than they knew. If they knew just how old he was they probably would have called him “Old Man Facelift.” He had a tidy pile of thick, grey hair that waved across his large forehead, when it slipped from under his baseball cap. He had a plethora of fine wrinkles across his face, garnered from years of stress of sun, but they were the type that you had to get real close to actually see. No one usually got close enough to observe them carefully, but they must have been there. His pale blue eyes seemed to give away the fact that he had seen a lot, maybe more than even his advancing years should have allowed. The look in his eyes seemed to confirm the existence of wrinkles. They never seemed to blink.
Mr. Charon stood on that corner every day. Unbeknownst to the world, he stood on that corner perpetually.
* * *
Rudy Charon. Fifty-four years old. Forced into early retirement from a job he never wanted to work in the first place. Working for the government. Laboring. Thankfully, at least now he knows people in town. That's what happens when you live in the same town your whole life. There are some upsides. His people (not friends really, he didn't have many of those, but people nonetheless), might be able to get him a town job. Benefits. Unions. Short hours. That's what he needed. Read more »
A story idea that's always appealed to me: entitled "The Crossing Guard."
They're everywhere. Standing at the crosswalks near the schools every day, stopsign in hand, waiting. They're there in the rain, in the snow, in the blazing heat with those heavy traffic vests. They often look a little strange, or a little lost; some of them are clearly there because it's the only job they can get. Some of them talk, some don't. Some make jolly conversation and some sulk or glare. Some of them act a little shady, or follow you to the library, or ask you for money, or what your favorite color is. You smile or nod or say "thanks" in a rushed sort of stranglement and move on.
Then, at four, they disappear. Nobody thinks of them after that. No one really thinks of them at all, but between four PM and seven AM, they don't exist. Only they do, really. I may have mentioned that they sometimes look or act a little strange. I'm sure they each have a story. Maybe it's a happy story, likely it's a sad one. Maybe it's a love story, or a beggar story, or an inner-demons story. Who knows? I'd like to.
So go forth, and find me a real or an imaginary crossing guard. Create a blog entry. Use the tag: Crossing Guard. Tell me where they go at four. Tell me why they are who they are. Tell me what they're like, and what they like, and how they're here. Make them people.
(BONUS: if you want super-kudos from me, and want to maybe make someone's day, try interviewing a real crossing guard and telling me a true story! I'd be as excited as they would be.)
Most of us are just getting to the age when sometimes they don't step out into the road for us anymore. Sometimes, though, they still do.