T.

There’s an old man who lived in a town you’d never find on a map, right before the stars touch the mountaintops. The wind blows halfheartedly through the town square, past the convenience store that time weathered inconvenient. The newspapers on the streets are all seventy-seven years past, fallen stars peering into ages gone by. It’s Been A Long, Long Time since Harry James was here.

The bombshells and their sweethearts are still here, but those red, red dresses are hanging up in dusty closets and the tuxedos have fallen from glory. Boarded up thrift shops and greasy diners keep watch at night.

The old man sits on his porch at the end of the block and rocks softly in quiet nostalgia. He’s the last of his kind, sweeping those dance floors and swaying with the needle. 

His sweetheart’s long gone, six feet under in what-if-he-never-comes-back. He came back, with scars you can’t see and memories you’d never understand. What do you do when The Greatest Generation goes out of style? He’s a hundred-pound time capsule, he knows. He knows.

It was hardly even a drive-through town, but I found myself passing through. I asked him if he still has his record player and he smiled a slow smile. Moxie got him to put on the vinyl one last time, this one’s got his gal written all over it. He told me there’s a tree growing over her bed, same tree they fell head over heels under. 

I wheeled him out under the stars on a night as clear as plexiglass and sat down next to his wheelchair.

 

He was still holding his red record player. 

 

I asked him how he does it. 

 

He looked at the stars. “I lost my wings, but I still fly.”

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