October 1, 1980
Ben puffs hard on his pipe this morning as if he needs to keep his hands warm, mumbling about the chill and how fast the summer went.
He keeps dwelling on the two boys we saw last June who nearly drove a boat off the falls here, and how this wasn’t the only times kids got hurt here.
He calls them fools.
He mumbles about one kid in particular he used to see here, someone he said made him think of himself at that age.
“Didn’t have no folks as I can tell,” Ben says, “of if he did they were too poor to put proper clothes on him or didn’t care to put them on him if they had money.”
Ben doesn’t say anything good about hippies who dress up poor and less about rich kids who wear jeans with holes.
“This boy wasn’t pretending to be poor, he was just poor,” Ben says.
Sometimes, bend – who admits he doesn’t part with a penny easily – even bought the boy meals as did some of the fishermen who all took a liking to the boy.
“He never begged; he never asked for anything except to sit with us from time to time,” Ben says. “I guess he got pretty lonesome, no real home, no friends to speak of, just us.”
Ben puffed on the pipe again and stared out at the trees whose leaves have turned early, not with bright colors, but straight to brown with a few pale yellow here and there.
“When I saw him on the falls I knew it was trouble,” he says in a voice so low, the soft sound of the fall water swallowed them up. “I shouted at him like I did those boys last spring. I remember him turning to look at me over his shoulder before he felt.”
Ben uses the word “fell” but I know the boy didn’t fall, and Ben won’t say what happened after that which tells me what happened if not in detail.