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The Chesterfield
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The Chesterfield
I wrote this short story in honor of my Grandfather
[1,406 words]
Deborah Jones
[October 2009]
[email protected]
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The Chesterfield
Deborah Jones

I was ten years old when I went to live with my maternal grand parents
My grandmother was a tall carmel colored woman with a soft mellow voice
My grandfather was also tall but the color of ashen charcoal and spoke with a sluggish South Carolinian accent
Oscar more commonly know to me as Grandad and aka henpecked to most of the tenants in the apartment building who knew him
Because everything that was ever said by my grandmom he nodded in full agreement
even if she were to tell him that the world was coming to an end the day after tommrow he would have whole heartily agreed with her
We lived in a five story tenement building that was located in Harlem which was one of the five bouroughs of New York City on One Hundred and Twenty Sixth street and Lenox avenue
The apartment building consisted mostly of people who were of West-Idian decent and other people who had migrated from various states in the South in search of better jobs and opportunities
My summers were filled with the care free spirit of adolescence as I played sometimes into the night with my grandfather watching simultaneously from the window
He always waited each evening until the sun went down before he joined us on the stoop
because he said that the direct sun light gave him a headache and also made him dizzy
There was never a question about my love for him however it seemed so minute that he could blame the sun as the reason for his headaches
But when he did make his apperance I knew that it was a sign that the fun was about to begin
First the truck that housed rides such as the whip and the tea cup simular to the ones that you might ride on at a carnival or a fair would be coming around
Then the good humor man would be soon to follow
It amazed me why it was the same old kids every night whose favorite past time had become to watch from the sidelines as the rest of the kids like me rode the rides and ate ice cream
And Although my reasons were never confirmed I suspected that the reason was because their parents probably didn't have the money to pay for the rides especially if there were more than one child in the family
or it could have been because they thought it frivilous to waste money on such things as rides and ice cream but what ever their resons were All I have to say is
Thank God I was'nt under their guardianship
and its because there was nothing that I ever asked for that I didn't get that most people considered me to be very spoiled
In conversation many friends, neighbors told him that he would be sorry one day for constantly over indulging me
But I say to him I was just plain Ole Poochie and he was just showing me love in the only way that he knew how
I was very thin one could even say that I was as thin as Oylive Oil who was a cartoon chrachter that could be seen on the cartoon series Popeye every Saturday morning
My hair was always kept neatly braided with occasional loose ends sticking out
Poochie was a puppy that Grandad once owned as a child and with whom I shared a simular coif as well as the same pet name
Grandmom and I would always listen intently as he told us the repetitous stories about how smart poochie was and how Poochie was his best friend until the very day that he was struck and killed by a car
Although my Grandmother and I had other things in common such as watching television and cooking
It was from him that I learned the tools that I would need to survive in Harlem such as the dangers and the consequences of using drugs , having pride in ones self and the importance of education
despite the fact that he was unable to read or write had no bearing on the love that I felt for him
What would I ever do without him to protect and to spoil me
One day my grandmother asked me to go to the cleaners for her I hated going there for several reasons the first one was that the cleaners was located on One Hundred and Twenty Fifth street
a highly populated street lined with many businesses restaurants and the theatrical stage for the world famous Appolo theater but last but not least I had to pass a bunch of winos who were always huddled together as if discussing a play in a football game
one wineo had been elected the designee to hold and to pass the wine bottle from one to the other
And the mocking sounds of Hey Baby was directed at every woman or girl who passed by them However without saying a word I passed them hastily as Grandad had previously instructed me to do
The second reason was that the owner and operator of the cleaners who always waited on me was a parapalegic with a very pale washed out complexion whom I refered to as creepy
It wasn't just the fact that he was in a wheel chair but more his manerisims that gave me the creeps
His voice was kind of low and raspy which reminded you of Vincent Price who starred in the house of wax or for those who don't know who Vicent Price is
He was also the voice on Michael Jckson single the Thriller
it was not until many years later that I discovered that old creepy was non other than Roy Capenella the once famous baseball player
In the winter months to follow I was called upon to run several errands including going to the cleaners where the pathetic winos still stood and occasionally meeting my grandfather after work at the Lenox avenue station
Today was one of many days that I was to meet him at the station but it was no ordinary day it was Friday March 4th one day away from that special day my birthday the day that I would finally become a pre-teen
I watched anxiously as he exited the turn stop
Bet you thought that I forgot your birthday what would Poochie Like most in the whole world?
The smile on my face widened slowly as he said I know a Chesterfield coat I had asked for the grey tweed coat for Christmas but recieved an easy bake oven instead
But I will have to get it tonight because I wont be here tommrow where are you going ? I am going on a trip
Puzzled by his response I could not imagine him going on a trip without either of us but thoughts of his mysterious trip were soon replaced by visions of owning a new Chesterfield coat
Early the next morning I was awakened by the sound of my grandmother's cries
I entered the room where they slept slowly only to find him on the floor in a kneeling position with grandmom standing over him
The room was filled with a foul smelling odor which came from the uncontrolable release of his bodyly waste
His eyes were closed tightly with dried white stains in the coners of them
Grandmom's soft spoken voice was now shrill and high pitched as she asked me to stay with him until she could get help
I bent down helplessly beside him pretending to understand this new game that he was playing
hoping that he would spring up from the floor in a matter of seconds but he never did
He was now the color of dull black leather and was still in the same position when she returned fifteen minutes later accompanied by two men who were dressed in white
One of the men placed two fingers on his neck and looked into Grandmoms swollen tear filled eyes and then turned to the second man and said lets get the stretcher
As the men inched their way down the equiangular corridor of our floor that was filled with curious tenants and retrieved the strecher from the ambulance and then returned to the apartment to remove his body
The man that I had know as my grandfather was dead
I mourned his death silently realizing that the Chesterfield coat could never replace his everlasting gift of love


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© 2000 Deborah Jones
December 2008

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