Dreaming - John Fetto

In Honor of Martin Luther King…

The day Hawley escaped the small, bigoted California town where he grew up, a cool crisp April wind bent the reeds of the estuary and wet the people standing around the outside the appliance store down from the bus stop where Hawley stood with his duffle bag. Still without a uniform, Hawley looked enough like them to fit in. Checkered shirt, blue jeans, short hair—he looked like most boys working the fields. But he didn’t want to join the crowd looking so happy. They weren’t happy because of the cloudless, blue sky or the bright sun. The crowd didn’t look at none of that. They were staring through the big, streaked window of the appliance, eyes fixed on the flickering pictures of the television sitting on display. If he was standing closer, they’d be wanting at him to join in and grin about what they saw. It was no great feat. Not even a hundred yards, closer than Oswald’s shot on Kennedy. No need to adjust for wind. No long night sitting out the cold. The shooter had level a 30-06 from out a bathroom window and shoot across a street and a toilet nearby while he waited. Still the people in front of the appliance store window, the people from his town, smiled in admiration, as if it were some great feat.

He stood up holding his duffle with his back toward them as if he were trying shield himself from the wet breeze, but mostly not wanting to be part of it. When the bus rumbled down the street, brakes squealing, he stepped on as soon as the doors swung opened. He sat down on the hard bench, and studied his green duffle. As the bus rumbled down the highway, Hawley thought about the shot. With a telescopic sight he’d see the pores on King’s face. He’d see him breathing and he still didn’t, just like the people giggling at the images on the black and white t.v. like school children.

Where ever the army sent him, Hawley told himself, he wasn’t coming back.