Shaggy From the Block

By John Clise

It was a breezy day in the neighborhood with kids playing double Dutch, youngsters showing off their basketball skills, and an old hippy with hair to his waist serenading passers by with memories of the past.

BBQ filled the air with a soft, sweet wind bringing warm air from the south to the street. The vibe was right. Love was everywhere. Even the old man from the upstairs apartment had come down with his orange lawn chair and transistor radio to take in the scene.

People called him Shaggy because of the mustache that included more hair than was on his head. Old Shaggy had his ear plug in listening to the baseball game, and grooving to the sounds drifting up and down the street.

Everybody loved Shaggy. When he smiled it was infectious. It was like the sun coming out after a rain storm.

There were many rumors about Shaggy floating around the neighborhood. Most were of the country music variety. Some said he killed a man in Reno. Others said he robbed a bank in Santa Fe. A few believed he’d been on the run for 30 years after pulling off a million dollar jewelry heist in New York City. Some thought he’d lived his life with a broken heart after, as a young man, his wife and child had been killed in an accident. Those were rumors only Shaggy could straighten out, though he never did. The stories were entertaining to him. Plus he didn’t want to burst anyone’s bubble with the truth.

Shaggy must have been 70 years-old. He still shocked the kids when he’d hop in the rump rope line showing off his double skills.

Mostly, though, he just sat in his green and white lawn chair taking in the days of summer. Someone would always bring him a hamburger from the grill. Someone else would bring him sweet tea.

Shaggy loved that summer time groove. It reminded him of his childhood back in the 1960s when you could still leave your windows open on a cool summer night listening to the cool sounds drifting through the window.

You could walk to the corner market for a cold drink and a candy bar with no worries. You could ride your bike to school. You could hang out at the park on the swings with your favorite girl.

Far removed from that time Shaggy still loved to catch a memory of that summer groove now and again.

He remembered all the promises of that time for life on Mars, space cars, racial equality for all, a cure for cancer… yet all of these years later… still in the same place, hearing the same promises for the future.

The promise almost everyone falls for… it will be better tomorrow. The river of bullshit people willingly swim because it’s easier than even trying to make a difference.

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