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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 3, September 2017

Bill Gottlieb
Loch Lomond, California, USA

High Surf Advisory

Trinidad, California

He's thin, stubbled, drunk at noon, asks for a dollar. I'm on an errand for a friend whose birthday and retirement party I'm attending—he's 65 today, retired eight days ago—filling torso-sized bottles with water at the supermarket next to the Lighthouse Café, and I don't want to lean to nonstop prattle—Vietnam . . . Jack . . . tobacco. But I decide in a surrendering second to be kind, open my hardworking wallet—a gift from my wife, dead at 59—see my low bill is a five, hand it over to a wavering hand.

He bought while I was buying, stands outside in light rain like a mental sentry, ambushes my minute, shows me his pack, smiles—I don’t have to roll my own for a while—tells me his birthday was December 7th, five days ago—that he's 67, that a good-hearted guy like me gives him hope I won’t kick over there by the bus stop like I dreamed. Sixty-two, I say, See you at 68, friend. Drops punctuate the lot; I lock, depart.

the old-timer
tides right up
to a sign
warning of ways
we might die



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