Newspaper and the Park Bench

Newspaper and Park Bench

George picks up the newspaper discarded by a previous occupant and sits down. It is damp but it has  not rained so he assumed it is the dew. It is four days old. He swept his long dark hair back from his eyes. They are dark, very dark brown and kind of sad. Had a strained look with an appearance of some small recent weight loss. A hint of some inner turmoil. Although at nine in the morning it was chilly he is wearing just a shirt, grey trousers and brown slip on shoes. Momentarily he looks up at the sound of the distant Labrador barking as it chased the ball thrown overarm. Opened the paper at a random page and started reading the article on the top left hand corner. There is a large bruise to the left hand side of his face yellowing as it heals. Maybe five days old.

The bench is at the top of a small hill giving panoramic views of the park. Again he brushes back his hair lifts his vision from the paper and takes in the view with a sweeping glance that lingers on sudden activity only about one hundred metres away. Two young men maybe low twenties, one white, one black, are approaching along the path behind a lone man just strolling, unaware. There is a lady with a small child approaching on the same path from the opposite direction. Something is said and the man turns seeing confrontation for the first time. The two men get up close, gesticulating, clearly animated. The woman and child turn and walk briskly back the way they have come. The man is pushed. Does not go down. Holds up his arms. Protecting. Clearly resisting. The white man swings a punch. Right handed. Catches the victim on the left side of his head. Down he goes falling onto his right side. The black man kicks him hard in the ribs. They rifle his jacket pockets, trouser pockets, take his watch. They turn and run back the way they had come suddenly cutting across the grass heading for the trees and High Street beyond. The man is laying prone, moving, not unconscious. He rolls onto his front and slowly pushes himself up into a crouched position. Then bending one knee rises to his feet holding his side. He looks around sees the man on the bench but turns and walks the way he had been going. Swaying and staggering at first but slowly getting his equilibrium back walks straighter but clearly in some pain. He disappears over the brow of the far hill.

The man on the bench follows his movements until he has gone. He looks for maybe a full minute at the space the man has left without any compassion or concern. Lifting up the paper he resumes reading the article in the top left hand corner. He finishes folds up the paper with the article showing. Puts it down on the bench nearly covering the drier spot where it had originally been laying. As he rises a sudden pain and accompanying sharp intake of breath forces him to hold his left side. The article heading reading “Man suffers injury during park mugging.”



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