Big Bill holds the door so everyone in
IHOP can see how big his arms are, sleeves
cut at the shoulders, BIG GUNZ tattooed on
his right deltoid, barbed wire wrapped around his
left, boldly spanning those well-built biceps.
Bill stands against the door jamb, a sentry
of sculpted consumption, as the well groomed,
elderly, smaller stranger approaches.
The older stranger steps deliberately,
a quiet cadence up the walkway in his
Sunday best, slightly hunched with ninety years,
intent on getting his wife’s favorite table.
Bill makes no eye contact with the man
he holds the door for, but rather scans the
room, making sure he is seen, arms and all.
He waits for the little man to walk under.
The BIG GUNZ weren’t free; Billy benches three
days a week at the gym, and will drive the
one block to Circle K—in his full sized
Ford—for his milk to mix a protein shake.
Bob Whitney, the little man now before
him, carried a gun as an infantryman
in The Battle of the Buldge, stepped on
the severed arm of his dead buddy in a trench,
clipped through yards of rusty barbed wire;
whispered the Lords Prayer as they were shelled
twelve hours straight and made a Sea Ration last
for days as he forgot what dry feet felt like.
Bob Whitney rode his Schwinn ten speed to work
three days a week; June made him a sandwich
for lunch; as children they had shared the same
stingy schoolmaster: The Great Depression.
Big Bill plays Mortal Combat on Xbox with
his bros; he’s been known to yell, Eat that lead,
motherfucker! after a virtual kill.
And when he is killed, he pushes reset.
Old Bob Whitney, eyeing that armpit shrub,
does not wish to brush his newly groomed white
hair against the protruding, rank black bush.
There they stand, staring at one another,
until Bob Whitney taking hold of the door,
his wife making her way behind him with
her walker, says Thank you, but I don’t care to
sniff your armpit this fine morning young man.
Photo By: Tony Fischer