Popular Posts

Saturday 6 April 2013

Are you Al Capone, by any chance?

From front door to the road
a biting North East wind
cuts into me.
A left turn brings relief.
Another left, I'm on the square,
the wind's behind me now.
But facing me:
a young boy -- ten, maybe;
or eight; or somewhere in between --
sits on a bollard
nursing a new, shiny Tommy Gun.
Never mind your AK-47 or whatever,
this is World War II
or Prohibition vintage.
He looks like some old brigand
guarding a high pass. He's coatless
and faced into the strong North Easter
quite impassively. An older boy
appears with football in his hands.
The brigand shakes his head -- and gun.
Its barrel points the long way round.
He does as he is told.

In the shop the papers are delayed.
The shop is crowded. Next to me,
a small boy in a Teddy Bear type coat.
From one of its deep pockets
he takes a soldier. Stands it on the counter.
He's the captain. "Is he now?"
I smile. "Important guy!"
Shot five hundred enemy!
"That was good work."
Got himself a medal! "Right!"
He puts the soldier in his other pocket.
Replaces it with one who's lying prone.
This one's dead... His voice begins to fade,
I don't hear all he says from this point on,
but know I'm being told the histories
of all the men in his battalion.

Then back outside. Two older boys on scooters
(Could be paper boys)
get the now familiar treatment,
take the long way round.
I pass the bandit.
"Who are you then, Al Capone?"
(Knowing he'll know nothing of such figures
plucked from history.)
Nah, he replies, I'm Che Guevara!


David Cranmer said...

Ah, I remember that world but never with that ending.

Sabio Lantz said...

Interesting snap shot.
A kid understands that war heros and dead guys must go together. Their conclusions yet to form. It all depends on what life throws at them as to which circuitry will prove strongest.

Mary said...

I enjoyed the story you told here, Dave......made all the better by the unexpected ending!

Cad said...

Boys will be boys...

Janine Bollée said...

Well, it's the posters, isn't it?
Charisma wins out.
Had me spellbound with its cinematographic detail.

Brian Miller said...

che is not a bad choice at all...we all find our heroes and villains in different places...and in different definitions...in many ways shaped by our culture and surroundings...

Carl said...

Great tale. You have a gift for taking us to a certain place and time so vividly yet with so few words. The ending was a nice little twist too.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Perhaps he is a more recent hero than Capone Dave. Kids know such a lot these days - the power of the internet I suppose.

hedgewitch said...

A fine line between outlaw and hero, past and future, isn't there. I especially like the detail of the coat, and the surreal overtones throughout.

Anonymous said...

Great story, Dave. I had no brothers or sons...methinks I missed out on a lot.

Cloudia said...

ah, Che, but of course

ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° > <3

Elephant's Child said...

Che trained as a doctor. Perhaps this determined young man will as well. And I am impressed that he manages to convince those older (and no doubt better in their eyes) to take the long way round.

haricot said...

Your precise description about boys tells me what it would like...quite different from girls' world. And I've never heard such dramatic scenes from my sons.

Dave King said...

Thanks so much to you all .

What first caught my interest was the coincidence - as I saw it - of the boy outside with the gun and the younger boy inside with his soldiers. The fact that everyone seemed to meekly obey Che's mute instructions also fascinated, for I could find no reason to explain it. Finally, of course, the unexpectedness of him knowing about Che - and seeing him as a hero. (Which is where, I guess, I show my naivete!)

Between you all you picked up all the threads that had intrigued me - and the odd one that I had missed - and also came up with some tentative explanations, so again, much thanks. It is so rewarding to get a response like this.