107. Trash
© Bruce Goodman 25 January 2014

Marcia’s lounge window looked over the street. There was a street lamp there, and next to it was a trash can. Every day Marcia watched this old man go through the trash.

He would take out all the trash, bit by bit, and carefully arrange pieces according to type. Ice cream wrappers were placed in a separate pile, as were screwed up cigarette packets. Chicken bones and waste food were heaped together.

When all was done, he would carefully return them to the trash can, sorted and orderly. Marcia knew he arranged the rest of the trash along the street. She had seen him.

He wasn’t hungry. He’d never ate the scraps. It was simply that he was old, obsessively orderly, and was suffering from dementia.

When the old man died, Marcia was at his funeral. She spoke.

“I want to thank everyone who saw this old man, in the last few years, sort the trash along the street. Although he was strange, you never made fun of him, but always treated him with kindness and respect. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and humanity. Even though he was old and different, he was still my father, and I loved him.”

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