PDF

Read It. Dammit!


by W.R. Smith


I first read Tortilla Flat by Steinbeck by being stiff armed into it by a WWII vet. It's relatively easy to get stiff armed into things by a vet when you are a teen male with ultimate respect for these men who've done and seen things you have no notion or desire, to downright fear of, experiencing yourself.

But of all the books to get pressed into reading? I think the guy's name was Bob. I am almost sure of it. Though I hesitate on his name I still remember his face. Watering eyes, losing the appearance of focus on anything such as yourself, and a pendulous lower lip--hard to tear my attention away from. That he lived next door to my grandmother in a retirement community was the only reason I might have ever talked to him. Hell, he outright ordered me to come over and listen where he was sitting on the front porch of the duplex.

"Did you ever read Tortilla Flat?" he asked me one day. He slapped his thigh and laughed. "Read it dammit! They don't write 'em like that anymore." This became a repeat performance with him whenever I was in too much a hurry to stop by and bullshit.

God bless his soul. My memory of Bob is braided with the book.
Endcap