Three Men on a Bench

Home Brooklyn Life Three Men on a Bench

By Derrick Taylor

A bench in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Taylor/Brooklyn Ink
A bench in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Taylor/Brooklyn Ink

Sitting on a bench in Marcus Garvey Park are three elderly men. They are smoking weed, sharing one joint. The man on the left wears a blue blazer and passes the joint to the man in the middle who wears a faded auto garage uniform that hangs off him like clothes on a scarecrow. They relight the joint and smoke it as they bob their heads to the gospel music blaring from a boom-box.

When the three men begin to read the newspaper, suddenly Maya Angelou’s voice comes through the speakers. She reads her poem slowly in her coarse voice emphasizing each word. The men squint their eyes as they listen and relax as the poem ends, as if they are trying to decipher the meaning of Angelou’s words. The man in the blazer finishes smoking and he drinks from a bottle filled with a dark golden liquid. A smile emerges from his face. The mechanic dozes off with his cane on his side. His head droops and his body relaxes. The third man taps his paint stained boots to the new gospel song that now plays.

A few minutes pass and the men on opposite sides of the bench talk over the sleeping mechanic in the middle. The painter notices the mechanic sleeping and nudges his shoulder to wake him.

The painter begins to preach to the other two on to how to raise kids properly. He shouts about how his mother raised him. He prattles on about his family history as the other two men look at him with dazed and uninterested eyes. Meanwhile, the same songs play on an endless loop on the boom-box. The man in the blazer rises and struggles to put one foot in front of the other, he begins to walk away. His zipper is down and his pants are unbuttoned exposing white underwear. He makes it to the fence where he relieves himself. He returns to the bench and collects his cassette tapes as the rambling painter continues to talk and the mechanic falls back asleep. He stuffs his cassettes and poetry book down in his handcart.

As he walks down Marcus Garvey Boulevard his music slowly begins to fade. The painter gets up and walks away after seeing no one is listening to him. Left alone on the bench is the mechanic who awakes to find himself alone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.