The Old Man

The old man looked up for a moment
he waved for me to come closer
translucent fingers like discarded shrimp shells

No longer the cocky young seventeen year-old
parachuting into the Philippines
or the quiet man who talked my mother into saying
I do

I leaned down
ear close to cracked lips
as he tried to draw enough breath from somewhere in lungs that had been ravaged
by fifty years of chain smoking unfiltered Luckies

Lucky Strikes Means Fine Tobacco
Loose Straps Means Floppy Ta-ta’s
Let’s Screw My Finger’s Tired

The old Man’s words gurgled in his throat
then surfaced clearly in a soft whisper
‘Matt shot first.’

Huge smile
at my awkwardness
still throwing curves
no softballs

I look deep into those dying eyes and see a reflection
dad and son
sitting together watching the tube
waiting for Marshall Dillon

The scene opens
the thunder of kettle drums
Matt stalks out on the street

dad and son stand and face each other
in their best gunfighter poses

When the music crescendoes
four plow handle hands
faster than light
draw and throw lead

Father and son
always won
Matt and the man in black
never had a chance

I smile back
lean in close and whisper...

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About the Author

Charles Templeton is the author of the best-selling, surreal historical novel, Boot: A Sorta Novel of Vietnam. When he is not singing at the Metropolitan Opera, you can find him in Eureka Springs, where he is currently an editor/publisher at eMerge, an online literary magazine. Charles wakes up daily and is thankful for the opportunity to offer creative literature to a diverse audience from emerging and established authors. He knows that whatever vicissitudes life throws at him, it will always be better than shovelin’ shit in the South China Sea.