Voices by Jack Linton Thirty-five years ago, Jacob McLoy lost someone very dear to him. He longs to find her through the voic... [1,315 words]
My Message Of Caress by Jacqueline Anel Sheppard This story is about the depth of a daughter towards life and how her existance leads to he... [452 words]
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A Better Place To Be
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A Better Place To Be
Bennie Dean is a tiny little man with a crooked little smile who marks the passage of his day following the rituals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a Continuing Care Center. But do not be sad for Bennie Dean, for Bennie is a happy man.
Steven R. Kravsow
I have been writing for the past 10 years. I have written short stories, essays, Op-Ed pieces, magazine length articles, and 3 novels entitled, "The Acorn Academy," "Boneman," and "Puppet Boy." I am presently at work on my 4th novel entitled, "Square Pegs."
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (13)
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Loonies (Short Stories) A car slowly gained on him. Soon it was even with Daniel's. It was a black sports model, low slung and powerful looking with black tinted glass and black sidewall tires. He looked over at the black ca... [4,959 words]
Photo Man (Non-fiction) I stood at the airport fence looking at a vintageB-24 Liberator. And then I saw the tiny little man. He wore his old Army Air Force fatigues, perfectly laundered and looking like it was still 1944. Hi... [2,560 words]
Play Ball: The Real Rite Of Spring (Essays) I love the spring. Wanna know why? Because spring is the time of year when good things begin to happen. And like anyone else, I like good things to happen. And if they happen to me, then so much the b... [917 words]
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Trading The Metal (Non-Fiction) "Today was a good day for me, or so I thought. I had traded in my aged 4-door Taurus, after bleeding it as dry as turnip blood on a stone. In its place stood a bright red beauty that was not only econ... [1,234 words]
A Better Place To Be
Steven R. Kravsow
Everybody loves Bennie Dean. Who wouldn’t love him. You can set your watch by Bennie He always has his breakfast at 8, his lunch at 12:30, and his dinner at 6. Those are the references that mark the passage of each day. And in between, he reads his newspaper, sports page first, then the front, followed by the inside sections. Some things are never meant to change. But change they do, because when the spring and summer arrive, Bennie gets to sit in the sun.
Bennie rarely speaks and when he does it is in a thin raspy voice that can barely be heard. Usually it is to ask for a glass of juice or a chocolate doughnut. Bennie Dean is a sucker for chocolate doughnuts. He knows they’re not good for him but after all, he’s 94 years old so what does it matter.
Most of the day Bennie Dean sits in the huge open area of the Continuing Care Center. He leans a gnarled hand over his aluminum walker, the other hand resting on a scarecrow knee, watching the hustle and bustle as people come and go. He sits, a crooked smile glued to his face, his face shaved as clean as a 94 year old face can be, tiny white whiskers creeping out of the crags and worry lines of his world warn face. He always wears a pair of faded gray work pants, white cotton socks, a pair of shiny but shopworn leather shoes and a checkered shirt that is always open at the neck, regardless of the season.
Some of the residents wave to Bennie as they shuffle past as he sits throughout his morning ritual. But Bennie rarely responds. His eyes are bright and they never move but Bennie sees it all. Yet at the same time his eyes are somewhere far away. That knowledge saddens the staff as they walk past the frail little man, but Bennie never seems to notice.
An aide helps Bennie to his 12:30 lunch and he shuffles alongside, his smile still glued to his face. The aide talks to him all the way, hoping to engage him in some kind of mindless banter but Bennie remains still. He sits with Mrs. Jankoski who always invites him to stay for lunch, always to her right, a little playlet that comes and goes each day. It almost looks like tiny children at play at a kids’ tea party. She simpers and coos throughout the meal, talking nonstop to Bennie who never interrupts. After lunch he goes back to his place in the main room, gnarled hand, the color of mottled parchment, hanging over his walker just as it had been in the morning.
Marking time, landmarks passed and accounted for, time moves steadily forward, and then Bennie comes alive. It is the highlight of his day. A staff member helps him shuffle out to the deck area that overlooks the ocean. She helps the old man into a deck chair and puts a blanket over his shoulders. Bennie sits like an Indian, wrapped in his poncho blanket, the sun shining warm against his weathered face, his smile unchanged. He sits watching the water, looking at the seagulls wheeling round and round searching for fish, watching the sunlight change from white to orange as the setting sun dips lower and lower before extinguishing itself at the edge of the horizon in one fiery gasp of crimson.
The staff watches Bennie do this every day. It saddens some of them to watch this poor man as he sits alone, a prisoner of time, watching an endless progression of waves lapping the shore which, like Bennie, complete a sentence that is doomed to end in finality.
But the staff is so wrong. Inside Bennie’s head, he is a young man, sitting on a tropical island surrounded by waves, women, and wanderlust. While the warm sun bathes his face in orange twilight, Bennie swims in the gentle safety of the atoll, swimming effortlessly among the multi-colored fish that ring the island. He swims with strong strokes that only youth can master, bobbing and floating in the gentle surf, staring at his island where the trees are tall, the island is lush with tropical vegetation, and nature offers up its abundance. He spies the young women washing their belongings along the shore, so thankful that God has somehow led him this island.
Yes, every day during the late afternoon in the spring and summer and early fall, Bennie Dean is at peace on his island. And that is why his smile is glued to his face. So don’t be sad for Bennie. He is on that island in his mind and that is most definitely a better place to be.
|READER'S REVIEWS (6)
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"Very sweet." -- Jennifer Nobile Raymond, New York, NY.
"I adored this story. Working in a nursing home, it really struck a cord with me. Very well done Steven." -- JT.
"Very touching and beautifully written story. A pleasure to read, Steven." -- Tammy , Virginia.
"Steven, I truly like this story. It reminds me of the poetry of John Keats where the dream is better than the reality. I love your descriptive detail. Keep writing...*S*" -- Teresa, Kentucky.
"BORING VERY BORING " -- mac.
"this sucks" -- studen.
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© 2000 Steven R. Kravsow
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