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April 1, 2012 vol 8 no 1

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Glenn G. Coats

The Real King

I go there a few times each month. Place has good hamburgers and gets busy around noon. He is always there. The police officers take the same corner tables and construction workers fill up the booths. Grandparents and grandchildren like those tables closest to the sunlight where the kids can get up and run around. He sits in the middle at a table all by himself. Wears a bomber jacket with the words I Am A Korean War Vet printed on the back. He is skinny as a piece of paper. Somebody thought he might be sick. Dresses nice. White hair always combed back. Beard trimmed short.

Once in a while when a family stands up to leave, I see them walk over to his table. Kids lag behind the parents – a little shy. They say a few words to him; shake his hand. His eyes light up and he nods his appreciation. On the way out, I've heard a parent say, "It was a war sweetie, a long time ago."

winter light
the thin ribs
of clouds