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Christmas on the Old

Paul Lojeski: I’m in a big box store. Cold concrete floor. No heat. Full of old people scared to death.

I’m in a big box store. Cold concrete floor.
No heat and here he comes, on tiptoe,
arms fluttering out for balance, his thin
white hair askew. He stops in front of me,
a lifetime of experiences etched into that
sagging face. The eyes cloudy like he’s
watching a memory moving slow down
a fog-shrouded road. White shirt, black
pants and a red apron. The little name tag
pinned over his heart reads, Thomas.
His tall body now stationary but twisted
to accommodate various pains; he’s
hanging on to that last breaking branch
above the dark river. I know because I’m
almost as old as he is and my back and hips
are killing me just standing there and it was
two years ago I worked the holidays in
a place just like this. So I know. Can I help
you find something? he asks. I notice other
old people in red aprons grimly moving
past, looking lost, looking like they can’t
quite figure out how it all happened,
trying to remember the reasons for the
rock bottom wages, weird shifts and
the surly managers. Christmas tree
lights, I said. He turned, pointing
at the other side of the store. Over there,
past the paint department. Then he started
that weird floppy walk of his, as he began
a voyage towards another customer in need.
I’m in a big box store. Cold concrete floor.
No heat. Full of old people scared to death.

Christmas on the Old

Paul Lojeski

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