The Fountain

When the weather is clear and the sun warm, people gather around Andrew’s Fountain. There’s just something about its simple white marble columns and splashing water that attracts a crowd. Some choose to sit on the rim of the receiving pond and playfully run their hands through the cool water. Others sit on the benches surrounding the fountain and watch as it dances in the sunlight.

A middle-aged man in black pinstripe brags, “I tell you pork bellies are the way to go, time it right and you can make a fortune.”

“You’re sure about that?” Sneers a similarly dressed older man.  “Securities are much safer over the long haul. I’ve seen way too many lose their shirt on risky commodities.”

“True, but when I hit it I’ll be set for life, retire early and enjoy the sunshine,” the younger trader confidently replies.

“Never happen,” mumbles the older trader while munching on another chip from his bag.

“Mom, can we go to the zoo now?” a young girl in a pink dress begs. The mother and two children rest on a bench just down from the traders. “Please?!”

“In a while perhaps,” the mother answers. “What do you think of the fountain?  When I was your age Aunt Martha would bring me here and we’d sit for hours watching the water.”

“It’s boring, elephants are better. Right, Joey?” The girl in pink asks her younger brother.

“I kind of like the water,” he replies, earning him a nasty look from his sister.

“That’s enough now,” Mom scolds.

A few benches down sit an older couple. “Do you remember this spot?” asks the elderly man bent with age.

“Why Herman, of course, I remember. It may have been fifty-three years ago but I remember it well.” The grey-haired woman next to him replies. “It was dark and the lights were on in the fountain.”

“We drove up before they put in the Interstate, it took four hours but we made it,” he continues.

“We ate at that Hot Dog stand for lunch and toured the museum” she adds.

“It was all I could afford,” he confesses.

“Then we strolled along the riverfront watching the city folk hurry home,” she recalls.

“Eventually we sat right here, boy was I nervous,” he said.

“I couldn’t tell,” she said resting her hand on his.

“Then I asked…” he said.

“And I said yes” she replies.

“Please, mom can we go to the zoo now?” The girl in pink begs with the best puppy dog eyes she can muster.

“Soon dear, soon,” the mom sighs. “Let’s finish lunch and watch the water a bit longer.”

“Come on Chelsea, turn around and dangle your feet in the water,” an older teenaged boy encourages.

“Won’t we get in trouble?” replies a girl of the same age.

“Naw, I’ve done it a bunch of times. Come on, it will be fine.”

As the teens slowly swirl their legs in the cool water, a large man in a dirty green jacket and unruly hair walks up. “Excuse me, could you help a fellow out?” he mutters not daring to look them in the face.

The boy whirls around, “Go back to the shelter, let them take care of you.”

The vagrant doesn’t reply but walks around the fountain to the two businessmen. “Could you help a fellow out?” he asks.

“You’ll just waste it on booze,” the older trader spits.

“Why don’t you get a job,” the younger one sneers, throwing the remainder of his lunch in the garbage.

The mom, seeing the vagrant, decides that visiting the zoo isn’t such a bad idea after all. She quickly gathers the girl in pink and the younger brother, scooting them away from the vagrant in the dirty green jacket.

The older couple, having watched and listened the whole time, wave the man closer. “Say, where did you get that jacket? Bit warm, don’t you think?” the old man asks without giving him a chance to answer. “What’s your name?”

“Bud, just call me Bud,” the homeless man slowly offers.

“My eyes aren’t as good as they used to be Bud, but there were patches on that jacket. Right?”

“Yeah, I wore it back from ‘nam.”

“I thought so, I thought so,” the old man coos. “Korea myself, let me shake your hand. This here is Martha and I’m Herman we’re from downstate a ways. So, I heard you asking these fine citizens for help, mind if I ask what you’re needing?”

“I’d like to go home, my mom is dying, I’m trying to raise bus fare,” Bud confesses.

“I’m sorry to hear that, where does she live?” Martha asks.

Plotterville, I doubt you know where that is. It’s a small town a few miles south of…”

“Walnut Grove,” Herman interjects, “We’re just north of there, near Devan.” Herman glances at Martha and sees her soft nod. “Tell you what, this is our last stop on memory lane, how about we give you a lift?”

“I couldn’t,” Bud replies shaking his head. “It’s too far.”

“Sure you could!” Herman encourages. “One old army vet to another.”

“Marine, I was a Marine like my dad,” Bud mutters.

“You ARE a Marine, no such things as was and I’m not taking no for an answer. Do you need to get anything?” Herman asks.

“Nope, this is it,” Bud replies exposing his empty hands.

The fountain splashes and plays in the sunlight while Herman, Martha, and Bud amble off. Others soon come and take their place to soak in the sunshine and listen to the water splash against the white marble columns. Few ever notice the small brass plaque at the fountain’s base – Andrew’s Fountain. Dedicated 1909. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. Psalm 36:9

Author: This is a “show” story where the point is shown and not told. There is no “and the moral is” or some wise words uttered by a character to make it obvious. My question to you the reader is this – what do you feel the point is? email me at

Dale Heinold
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