My hands and face bore the marks of my trade. I’m homeless and trying to clean the stink of the street, off my body. Water cascaded down my chest, as I splashed from the sink basin to my face and body. Morning rays of sunlight glared off the mirror—above the sink. I didn’t want to look, but was drawn to the image—it was majestic. Old Glory, the tattoo on my chest appeared to wave.
It was going to be a good day.
Last night was not, it rained hard, and neighborhood kids beat me in my sleep. They trashed my house—the cardboard box I lived in.
I’ll get another house today.
The bells on the church began to chime, it was six, and the mass would start in fifteen minutes. The priest was a good man, especially for the street people—he let us wash up, and he fed us every Friday night. I knew he wouldn’t say so, but he didn’t want us scaring his congregation away. I would be gone before mass started. I gathered my worldly assets; my bush hat, Camo jacket and three blankets—it was time to find breakfast.
It was going to be a good day.
I wasn’t always like this; there was a time when I had a great job and a family. That all ended after nine-eleven, I snapped.
“Get a job, you bum,” said the passerby.
“Have a good day,” I said and picked up my tip bucket, there was a folded twenty at the bottom.
It was going to be a good day. “Thank you,” I said, it’s time to go to work.
My spot was the block between Little Italy and the beginning of China Town. The buildings were covered in graffiti, but the pawn shop two doors down—drew a unique clientele. I laid out one of my blankets and set my tip bucket out. I hung my wet Camo on the hook, I had fashioned into the wall—months ago. I slipped on my bush hat and the only dry clothing I had. My worn out, Property of The United States Marine Corps, red T-shirt with the Bulldog mascot. Now on duty, I smiled at my first customer.
“Semper Fi,” he said, and threw a buck in my bucket. At noon, not counting the twenty, I made nineteen dollars and sixty-nine cents – 1969 same as the year I went to Nam. There was a pizza place around the corner, he sold slices to passersby. I got three slices and was content. On my way back to my spot, I saw a black limo parked in front of the pawnshop. A man in a dark suit was standing by the rear passenger door. As I approached, he opened the door, and a well-dressed man stepped out—he approached me.
“Semper Fi, Gunny,” he said.
“Semper Fi,” I replied, then asked, “How do you know I’m a Gunny, do I know you?”
“I would hope so,” he said. “But, I saw your jacket.”
“What can I do for you…?”
“The three bones in your bush hat, are of great interest to me. Where did you find them?”
“I was with the First of the First, in Quang Tri in 1969.”
“Who has the others,” he asked?
“Whoa, hold on a second, i said. Then who are you?”
“I’m Buck Davidssen, Jameson’s younger brother.”
“Holy ****! Jameson, was my Marine buddy, my closest friend—I trusted him with my life.”
“He trusted his life with you, and talked about you all the time, in his letters home.
“We were on patrol and digging in for the night, hen I found those six bones. I gave him three and I kept three. We put them in our hats for luck. The Holy Trinity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
“I saw you at his funeral,” Jameson said. “You stood in the back, why didn’t you come by?”
“I felt responsible,” Gunny said. “I shipped out three weeks before he was killed. I couldn’t live with myself.”
“When his body was shipped home, three bones were among his belonging. I had them checked out by experts.”
“What kind of animal are they from?”
“Gunny, those are not just bones, they are horns, from a baby Triceratops and they’re worth millions.
“You just made my day. I knew when I woke up, it was going to be a great day.”
“Come with me to the pawn shop. The proprietor collects dinosaur bones. It’s time, you got your life back together.”
The proprietor’s smile beamed, when we entered the shop, he spread his arms, when he saw my hat. “Welcome to my humble establishment, I’m about to change your life.”
Meet the Author
Gene Hilgreen lives in Lindenhurst, NY. When not writing...he can be found at Venetian Shores hanging with the locals enjoying the beach.Learn more