By Tamara Shoemaker

The dust of 60-plus years coated his bronzed face as he stared down at the town from his perch. The rest of his skin had grayed with time, but his lips had never cracked a smile.

His feet rested on a pedestal at the edge of a used car lot, and he glared across the river at the school beyond. They’d named the mascot after him — the Chiefs, until a court case banned the term and replaced it with the innocuous Eagles.

He’d become a landmark in this town. Tourists hugged a brown leg while they posed for a camera; tired Main Street meanderers paused for a break in his shadow. Gangs graffitied spray-painted tattoos on one bare calf; girls kissed interested boys behind the pedestal.

I worked in his shadow, operating my store where I could see the rigid profile. The eyes faded more each day, and rumors swirled that the city might give the old guy his final rest.

On a drizzly day, I nestled a set of books more snugly on a shelf, pulling the window closed to bar the rain from my merchandise. I traced the rivulets on the glass.

“Will that make you happy?” I whispered.

His cheeks dripped moisture below his empty, empty eyes.


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