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Monday, January 26, 2009

Sal's Story: A Collaborative Effort

On a recent post, I challenged my readers to jointly write a short story. I simply wrote the first sentence and then many of you continued with another. When I wrote the first sentence to the story, I did in fact have someone in mind. I thought of Sal, a neighborhood homeless man who was well known and well liked in my middle class neighborhood. He lived in the woods, bathed at a neighbor's house, traveled with his dog everywhere and sat on the bench in front of the neighborhood supermarket and smoked a cigarette. I never heard him speak or ask for a thing.

One afternoon I arrived at the supermarket and glanced over at the bench. Sal wasn't there. Instead, flowers, candles and numerous posters and photos of Sal and his beloved dog decorated the corner where he once sat. Sal was dead and the dog needed a new owner. For a few minutes I stood there and I cried as strangers walked by and stared at the silly woman who could not control her emotions. For days, I could not stop thinking about him. I don't know what it was about this man that had so touched my heart.

You may never have met Sal but as I read some of your sentences, I could not help but chuckle at the similarities. Coincidence perhaps......

Sal's Story

Every afternoon, the man sat quietly on the bench in front of the grocery story.

He remembers as if it was yesterday, not years ago, how his life had changed right here in this very spot.

In more ways than one, this spot, this old bench in front of the store's large window, was his; and all the store's workers could set their watches by his daily arrival at 1:00.

He came alone each day, but he wasn't lonely.

His loyal dog Leo always comes with him; it is his only matey.

He carried within him the memories of all of the people he loved.

Loneliness was not a word in his vocabulary.

Back then he had his hopes and dreams to keep him company; he didn't need or want people in his life; he had far too much to accomplish.

Instead, he looked forward, as the hands of his watch reached towards that hour, when she would turn the corner, her hair flying in every direction, yet he could see her face.

The stores surroundings were familiar, and their words, like the sound of their shoes, still hung in the air.

He hardly noticed when she sat next to him, slipped the manila envelope slightly under his thigh, and then left, as quietly as she had arrived.

That bench was peopled with ghosts from his past.

I didn't know, that an overdose of this hallucinogen would fill my mind with all these impressions of ghosts and this strawberry blonde.

He found himself pulling out yet another cigarette and striking a match.

In a single, fluid motion, he lit the cigarette, dropped the match, and slid the envelope from beneath his leg.


  1. Wow, what a touching story! I have seen people like that before, too, and you can't help but to start to feel a certain attachment to them when you know that every time you go there you will see that person. Then one day they are no longer there and you feel like you have lost something.

    I loved the story. That is such a fun exercise to do. You never know where the story will go because you never know who will play along, and what they will bring to the story. Terrific post!!

  2. I often wonder what makes people live like Sal...what did or didn't happen in their life...sad!!!

    The writing collaboration was a great interesting combination of sentences...turned out well!!!
    I enjoyed participating...


  3. Oh, So the story went on the way I can't believe! What a magic game!

    I am love this game! And glad that I can be here with these friends!


  4. Wow - love the story... amazing how one evolved through contributions. I'm going to try this with my students.
    (I'm sad about Sal)


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