General Fiction posted June 3, 2024

This work has reached the exceptional level
Never underestimate the power of the elderly.

The Walk

by Barry Penfold

Ken Leary was eighty years old and agitated. Three days of continuous rain had curtailed his daily walking ritual. He had been confined to reading books, recommended by his wife and the occasional board game again selected by his wife. He loved her dearly, but she nearly always won. That's where the walk was such a relief to him.

The sun prized open the clouds and that was enough for Ken to announce,

"Eileen, the sun is out. I am off for a walk. Do you want to come?"
"No thanks. Take it easy and watch your step. It will be slippery after the rain. Also there have been reports in the local paper that some youths are harassing people near the shopping center."
"Not a problem. See you soon."

It was not a surprise that Eileen did not want to come. Her recent health had not been all that good and her enthusiasm for outside activities had waned. Oh, for the good days again. He momentarily thought of how nature brought people together but also slowly pulled them apart. A flicker of sun pointed him to the outside.

A chance to exercise, gave him licence to use his imagination to reflect on his youth. He still had it. Well, that was what he would tell himself as he strode along the bush track leading to the small shopping centre. There was something invigorating about the bush. Sweet smells of native flowers and gums. Reminders of the many tracks he used as a younger man. His boxing days. How good they had been to him.

He viewed the raindrops sitting in fullness on the many different leaves, with their reflecting of the sun and the freshness of rain water pushing him forward along the track. It indeed was a magical route. A familiar voice pierced his thoughts as he followed the track along the back fences of houses.

"Hi,Ken. Good to see the rain give up for awhile."
"Sure is Helen. I hope it gives up all together."

He did not stop to talk further as he needed to concentrate on the track. Trip hazards were frequent and he kept a keen lookout for any danger.

A fork in the track
forced a decision. He chose the track that had an uphill incline to the back of the shopping center. It was a little more taxing than the lower track, but it gave him confidence as to his fitness. A small rest at the top of the track was his reward before he headed through the shopping center and back down another track to his home.

About halfway up the incline he heard a loud sound, voices he believed, but not yet definite enough for him to clearly assess. As he walked he flexed his right hand into a fist and then out again. It was a regular thing he did as he walked as well as when he sat.

Reaching the concrete apron of the first building of the shopping centre he veered left, intending to sit on a bench seat located under a large gum tree. The bench was blockaded by two younger men. Ken assessed them both to be about eighteen years of age. One quite well built, and about six foot tall. The other was slimmer and probably five foot eight inches tall. He walked directly up to them.

The taller boy questioned.

"What do you think you are up to pop? There is a price if you want to sit down."

Ken looked them both up and down, before replying.

"So you are going to pay me are you?"

The taller boy reacted immediately.

"Ha Ha. You're a funny one."

As he finished he moved closer. Ken could not move forward. Ken flexed his right hand into a fist. A bit closer he thought.

"Bet you have a wallet. I need twenty dollars for some smokes."

"Look young man, I have lousy hearing. Just move a bit closer and repeat that please."

The taller boy moved slightly closer and moved his head towards Ken's right ear. He spoke slowly and softly.

"I want your wallet old man. If you don't hand it over, you will not be walking home"

Ken moved a little to the side, clenching his right fist harder.

"We will see about that."

At that moment, his right hand exploded upward and hit the taller boy flush on the chin. The boy dropped straight to the ground. Ken looked over to the other boy whose mouth was gaping. He made no attempt to move toward Ken, his eyes transfixed on his mate.

After what seemed an eternity, Ken spoke.

"Perhaps you had better pick your mate up. Its time I continued my walk."

Ken unfolded his right fist. As much as it hurt, he strode out through the shopping center full of pride. He still had it. By God, he could still deliver a knock-out punch. The few others who had witnessed the scene, generated a soft clapping and a few "good on you" as he walked past them.

He did not really recall the walk home. It was sort of surreal.

Upon entering the front door, Eileen questioned him.

"How was the walk. No trouble with those boys they have been talking about?"

Ken smiled and replied.

"Not a bit."



Based on a true event. The elderly can hold onto a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Sometimes it becomes invaluable.
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Artwork by VMarguarite at

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