Eldridge Flavor had quit trying to stay ahead of Father Time. He was lucky to be walking at all. Walking would be an upgrade from his slow, deliberate shuffle. He never lifted his feet from the pavement. They just slid forward ever so slightly.

And it was to be expected. Eldridge had celebrated his 103rd birthday a few months back. He had seen much in his elongated life. He had buried three wives and a child. He had lived through six world conflicts, fighting in three of them. There were many presidents under the bridge and the centigenarian only agreed with one of them , and not all the time.

Now, his days are spend in his garden. He would mosey over and stand amongst the hearty vegetables and lean on his hoe, more of a support than a tool now. Eldridge would talk to the birds and the frogs and the stalks of corn that he near-sightedly always mistook for the neighbor. And he would breathe, in and out just as slow and deliberate as his pace, but it was a sign that life still had a battle on its hands. Or feet.

Slow and deliberate, feet of stone taking the better part of the morning to navigate through to lunch. A quiet corner of the world that belonged to Eldridge and his dog; his companion and lifeline. Duke, his name, could sense danger or unseen obstacles that confronted Eldridge, barking a warning or tugging his pant leg gently. Today, Duke sensed the onset of the grand mal in his friend’s immediate future.

Today, no warning was forthcoming. Duke lay at Eldridge’s feet when neighbor Death came to call. His seat in the yard would soon be replaced by three feet of stone marking a six foot deep hole. And the dog continued to stand guard just as he had in Eldridge’s life!


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