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Old Man and The Boy

An old man and boy walked beside the dusty road. There was no speech until the boy stated, Iím hungry. The old man wiped his forehead with a handkerchief. The boy stumbled on something. Come now, keep up, scolded the man. Iím hungry. I heard you the first time, complained the old man.

There was pasture as far as you could see. The man carried a bag over his shoulder, and the boy was around twelve. On the other side of the sky, it was blue-gray, and lightening flashed.

We must hurry, muttered the old man. Where are we going? asked the boy. If we donít hurry, youíll not like where we end up, said the man.

The boy made a face, and said nothing. They walked on. The wind howled in the distance, and the sun was in half the sky.

The wind is change, said the old man, and the boy heard, but did not know what he meant. They came to an intersection, and on the road heading right there was a sign that read: Wilton, Three miles. They stopped and breathed laboriously. The old man looked at the sky. The boy walked down the road.

Wait!, cried the old man.
Iím hungry, said the boy, yet again.
And Iím not?
We can eat in Wilton.
Thatís where the storm is.
So what?
Do you know the power of a storm?
Well, you might what to think about it before you go walking into it.
Iíve been in storms before.
Surely, but not of this size.
How do you know?
Because you are standing here. Thatís why we would be foolish to walk into it.
Come, said the old man.

The man started down the left hand road.
How do we know thereís not a village this way?, the old man offered.
How come thereís no sign then?
They may not want strangers.
Howís that any better than a storm?
You ask a lot of questions.
The answer is that we know that three miles the other way we can get food.
If we can get there before the storm gets us.
Iím going the other way.
By yourself?
Yeah. Iíll come looking for you tomorrow.
What would I say to your parents?
About what?

If something should happen to you?
Tell Ďem I didnít listen to you. They wouldnít have any trouble believing that.
Youíre just like your father.
Whoís just like you.
We should stay together.
We want different things.
Even so, weíre safer together. What if robbers and bandits should fall upon you?
How is being with an old man going to help that?
All right, maybe Iíll come with you then?
All right, letís go.

The old man didnít move.
Well? asked the boy. My hunger is more, and will become only more.
The old man fumbled in the bag, and brought out a loaf of bread. He held it in the air.

You can have some of this if you promise to come with me.
The boy stared at the bread. The old man looked at the darkening sky. They looked like a statue.
No, said the boy, youíll not bribe me. Iím going where I want to go.
Into the storm?
Yes. The boy walked away from his grandfather. Wait! cried the old man.

They walked down the road, and into the wind and rain. The wind was so strong they leaned into it, and pushed on their legs, and the rain soaked them through. Lightening flashed. The wet and the wind made them cold. They reached the village, and took shelter beside a building. The grandfather gave the loaf of bread, and they ate. They fell asleep lying next to each other, and the next morning, the boy awoke, and was warm in the sun. His grandfather lay next to him, and it took him awhile to realize he wasnít breathing.

Contributing Story Teller Jack Coey [email protected]

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