Kind Lady Doctor Lives Here

JenniferPendergast

Photo prompt for Friday Fictioneers
Jennifer Pendergast

Kind Lady Doctor Lives Here

I gently touched the angry scar where his larynx used to be. He motioned for a blank piece of paper and his companion handed him a nub of chalk. Confused, I watched my patient draw a friendly cat and a cross. Puzzled, I raised a brow at his disheveled companion.

“He cain’t read or write doc, never got a chance. He been riding the rails since he was twelve, best he figures. We gots our own picture words so that help him but thing is, Max was our best storyman. Even gots a sign, says that Max has a new story to tell. He just a regular hobo now but I stays with him.”

I turned to Max, both of us swiping at a stray tear, as he entrusted me with his story.

WhatsforDinnerDoc.com, hobo symbols

For more flash fiction visit here. Yes, I know. I’m way over 100 words today. Whatever, tie me to the tracks or throw me under the train.

43 responses to “Kind Lady Doctor Lives Here

  1. It has a “of mice and men feel to it”. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mick,
      “A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.”
      ― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
      I think this says it all. Although, I have never read Of Mice and Men.
      Thank you for making the connection when I had not. I learn something every day at FF.
      Ya all are the best,
      Tracey

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Good story with a lot of emotion and good description. It seems we both chose the same subject, hobos. When I was a child, my mother used to give food at the kitchen door to hobo’s. I guess there was probably a circle with an “x” in it near our house meaning “good for a handout.” The men were always quite polite. Well done WFDD. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 2 people

    • My Mom and Dad told stories of the Great Depression and men traveling, looking for work. They both lived on Montana ranches and were dirt poor but they could always use another hand.
      ‘Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place. They come to a ranch an’ work up a stake, and the first thing you know they’re poundin’ their tail on some other ranch. They ain’t got nothing to look ahead to.”
      ― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
      Thank you,
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not sure I’m getting this. And I worry about guessing – but, I’m deducing that his cat died? Have I just made a fool of myself?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh I see I have. Got it now. Lovely story and a great idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks to wikipedia I finally got it (and linked it to the title). I hadn’t known about hobo signs. It’s a lovely story, full of heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Cat got his tongue”? Max, I’m not good with pictures ..please enlighten me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A moving story well told, Tracey. I researched gypsies for a novel and they use signs too, often chalked on gatepost to inform or warn of the likely reception in the house.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I would have preferred you leave a link. With 100+ stories to read every week..well that’s just me being me. Cool take on the prompt and even though I had to work for it I learned something.
    http://www.worldpath.net/~minstrel/hobosign.htm

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Here’s a hobo story my Dad told me.
    A hobo had just gotten off the train and was walking into town. On the way he found a half-grown kitten. He tucked the kitchen under his arm and knocked on the screen door at the back of someone’s house. A woman came to the door. “What do you want?” she asked.
    “Ma’am, I was wondering if you could spare a little salt.”
    “What do you want with salt?”
    “I thought I’d use it season this kitten and prepare myself a meal.”
    “You’ll do no such thing,” she said. “Come in here. I’ll fix you something to eat.” She fed him well. After which, he left a hobo mark for others to the kind woman’s house.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love it. Do you think it’s a true story? The other explanation could be that a kind cat lady would take in strays. The other symbol for “Doctor here will see you for free” probably represents a cross like the Red Cross and a coin. I’ll consult the next hobo I see provided my “hobo stab insurance” is current.
      Thanks for the story,
      Tracey

      Like

  10. I enjoyed your story and I have enjoyed learning about Hobo language!

    Like

  11. Dear Tracey,

    What’s the mark for ‘Lady tells a good story’? I hesitate to go on to much about this because it is so very good. Refer to last weeks comment. You’re a double threat, Doctor Lady.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    Liked by 1 person

    • “In every bit of honest writing in the world, there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other…… There is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. TRY TO UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER!”
      ― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

      I saved my best Steinbeck quote for you. I reckon he was talkin ’bout wise guys like you.
      I’m glad you read the signs and stopped to chat.
      Mahalo,
      Tracey

      Like

  12. Dear Tracey,

    It took me some digging to get your story but it was well worth the excavation. Well told. So happy to have you on this train. 😉

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’d have loved a link or two for explanation, but I think the comments have got me there. Love the voice, even though it made things hard to follow, it really gave me a sense of the characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. “All men want to leave a mark on the world even its just in chalk” I’ve actually written almost exactly this sentiment in my YA novel (too bad it was one of “the darlings” I had to kill in editing.) Lovely take on the prompt.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I loved learning about the Hobo language and markings on kind peoples homes. That is great to know! Nan

    Liked by 1 person

  16. As a few others, Tracey, I would have loved a link. The comments have done the job nicely now, so I’m up to date with hobo signs. I’m also aiming to read Of Mice and Men very soon! I ‘got’ the part about the removal of the larynx leaving Max voiceless but i didn’t know about the hobo signs. You have written this very moving story beautifully, Tracey.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Nicely done – and it does have that Steinbeck feel to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Erin
      I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t read Steinbeck. I must have picked up the vernacular from somewhere else. Occasionally my Dad would slip into a mild hillbilly vernacular when he spoke with some of his old cronies. This of course was over the top for characterization. Fun stuff!
      Tracey

      Like

  18. A moving story of compassion and a fascinating insight into the hobo signs – totally new to me. I loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thank you for the share.. what a wonderful introduction to the hobo signs.. lovely tale, and so sad piece of living like that.

    Liked by 1 person

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