500 Word Short Story
The Red Bench
Scott A. Gese

500 Word Short Story

He fed the pigeons daily.

Robert “Bob” Bass had been feeding the birds along Waterfront Park for over ten years. He always came at the same time, 9:45am, and sat on his favorite bench. The red one next to the big maple tree. The birds had come to expect him and he never disappointed them.

A local reporter had heard about Bob and decided to pay him a visit, hoping for a story.

It was a brisk Autumn morning. He arrived at the red bench around 9:30. Bob had yet to arrive. The reporter waited patiently. At precisely 9:45, an older gentleman dressed in a trench coat and bowler hat came walking toward the bench. He had a cane in one gloved hand and a paper sack in the other. He took a seat on the bench as he did each morning. Ignoring the reporter, he removed his gloves and began feeding the birds with seed he carried in the sack.

The reporter introduced himself as Drake. He asked Bob if he would be willing to share his story.

“There's no story here, young man,” Bob replied as he continued feeding the birds.

“Surely there must be something in your past that would make you want to come down here to this exact bench and feed these pigeons each morning for the past ten years?”

If Bob had a story, he showed little interest in sharing it, but the reporter was persistent. Each morning for a full week he would meet Bob at the red bench. He stayed and made small talk until Bob left.

Finally, Bob relinquished. “Drake, I've given it some thought. I'll tell you what you want to know.”

He took a minute to stare out at the water, then took a deep breath and began.

“I'm dying. I have that damn Cancer. I won't be around much longer and I need to get something off my chest.

Ten years ago I was a bad man. A criminal of the worst kind. A real drain on society. I orchestrated some of the most sensational criminal events this city has ever known. Ten years ago I had an epiphany. A sudden flash of insight beyond the realm of my own understanding. Don't ask me to explain. I can't. All I know is that in an instant I was a changed man. I dropped off the radar. Hid myself in plain sight, and for whatever reason, I've felt compelled to sit on this red bench and do nothing more than feed these pigeons. My name's not Bass. Go home, do your homework, Drake. You'll discover the rest of the story and along with it, who I really am.”

Bob Bass stood and walked away, leaving Drake to ponder what he had just been told.

Drake did do his homework and soon discovered the true identity of Robert Bass.

Several days later he returned to the red bench. He waited patiently, but the old man never showed.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

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