|Image by Robert & Shanna ParkeHarrison (via Magpie Tales)|
The whisper in the thunder is discernible only by the most astute listener.
The old man on neighborhood's center had no problem hearing it. Long ears adorned his head, the lobes drooping, covered in a fine white that made them halo in those moments he stepped out to sigh at the sun. He would sniff the air with his bulbous nose, screw his lips, accentuating the creases in his stubbled cheeks and return once more to the darkness of the shop within his garage.
He was a tinker. Turning useless items into what we fantasized were the most fascinating inventions. We never really saw what it was that he made as we watched him from behind the across the street neighbor's car, catching small glimpses of old hubcaps and half deconstructed washing machines, through the always open garage door.
A blender sat atop a rusted oil drum, its clear pitcher filled with nuts, bolts and washers. An old bathtub overflowed with pipes. In the back he sat, under the glow of a lamp, at his work bench, clinking and clanging, his flannel shirted back to us.
Occasionally he muttered in some unintelligible language, took a well soiled towel from atop a filing cabinet to work at his long thin fingers, then would dig through cardboard boxes making the most awful racket until he found what he was looking for and returned to his work.
One morning we exited our house to find a fire truck and ambulance in front of his house. The paramedics wheeled a sheeted mound on a gurney down the sidewalk into the back of the ambulance. After they left, we crept down to his house peeking into the still open garage.
Beyond the shadows, in the pool of light where he he had sat every afternoon, we watched a small orb spin slowly round and round just above the surface of the workbench. It was blue and green and brown, like a marble. Small white swirls seemed to dance across its surface.
The blare of a horn startled us and we turned to find the school bus waiting on us. We gathered our back packs reluctantly and ran to the catch it before we were left behind. After a slow day of school, we returned home by the same bus, anxious to investigate the old man's garage, but the door was closed.
To my knowledge it never opened again. The home was purchased shortly there after by a car salesman. He always wore a suit and had the whitest teeth we ever saw, even to this day.