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RockyG666 63M
1748 posts
7/28/2013 3:58 pm

Last Read:
10/2/2013 1:45 pm


I think his name was Robert, I really can’t remember. The man himself was much more memorable. He had big round eyes, almost too round and too white. On such a dark black man with such weathered skin, his eyes were almost a racial mockery, like a painted black face, like Rochester when he was terrified. Except for those eyes, the Gooseman was kind of dignified in a quiet sort of way. He carried himself slowly and walked with integrity and purpose. It was easy to see why his birds were easy around him. I felt like that around him too, he virtually oozed peace and tranquility.

We met at the Skokie lagoons. I used to go there on my lunch hour to play my guitar. They were a chain of disconnected little bodies of water separated by stretches of woodlands. Some were mere puddles, others were so expansive that you couldn’t see the other side. They also weren’t so very far from where I was living at that time, and so I used to go there a lot on the weekends as well. They were beautiful and peaceful and a great place to practice. There was one particular pond that I visited more than the others. I guess mainly because there were a lot of benches there and a particularly serene view, and because I would often meet the Gooseman there.

The first time I met the Gooseman, he was taking a fishhook out of the mouth of a rather large goose. He had a long nose pliers in one hand and the goose by the neck in the other, and he was calmly, and carefully, and really slowly, manipulating the pliers to the side of the goose’s snapping beak. The goose was emitting frantic shrill squawks from that beak, and the rest of the goose was a flurry of feathers and webbed feet. It was fascinating to watch. The Gooseman managed to hold the bird just far enough away that it was not able to touch him, yet close enough that he was able to get inside of his beak to do whatever he was doing. I didn’t know that he was removing a fishhook until he came over and told me afterward. A million thoughts went through my head as I watched, but it never dawned on me that was what he was doing. I never worried that he was hurting the goose intestinally though; it was obvious that it was a labor of love.

Suddenly, he pulled the pliers away from the goose and straightened up. He slowly set the goose down on the ground, gently stroking its feathers. The Goose stopped squawking, shook itself violently, and then waddled off to join the main group of geese who had stood by idly watching all this. As had I.

The Gooseman then sauntered over to where I sat on my bench; I always sit on the table top of a bench rather than the sides, which are intended as seating. This gives me more arm room to beat on a guitar. He smiled and held up his pliers and I could see a piece of fishing line extending from them. “Fishhook” he said, “Damn careless fishermen.”

I smiled back, but didn’t really know what to say. It was apparently ok because he sat himself down on one of the vacant side seats and just started talking. He was like that, he would just start talking and talking. I could never accurately recount all the things that the Gooseman said to me, but I can remember most of everything he said in a kind of wordless image-like way. He had spoke in much the same way that he held himself - he was peaceful and even, a pleasure to listen to. Something about him was almost childlike, naïve; almost as if he were retarded or slow – but he was definitely very wise and worldly. Over time, he told me about his wife and his , various adventures in several wars, different jobs and seasons of his long life (he was probably in his early seventies), and all about the geese. His wife had passed away, his had grown and mostly moved away, and the geese were all the friends that he had anymore. Until we became friends.

During the summer and early fall the area was literally crawling with geese. I don’t know much about species and such, they were mostly grey and black with green heads and necks. They were pretty big birds too, bigger than an average chicken, maybe even bigger than a turkey. The Gooseman knew about the breeds, and he would prattle on about that one being this particular breed, or how this one probably had come all the way from some place else and was not part of this flock or that. He could tell the males from the females, and the young from the old, and he would point out when one goose was ostracized from the rest. He said that happened fairly often.

I would just listen to him go on and on, nodding my head and playing my guitar. Sometimes, he would kind of scat along with me if I played a catchy blues rhythm or jazzy bass beat. Occasionally he would say that he liked one tune or another, but most often, he would just kind of ramble on about his past, or his geese, in his deep calm baritone voice. It was almost as if it were a part of the scenery. Whenever he sat with me, the geese would come right up to the table. He usually fed them too, and always had bags of torn up bread. He would sit and talk and toss out a piece or so of bread to waiting beaks, and I would just listen and watch and quietly play my guitar. It was almost surreal.

Sometimes, if I was at that spot and he wasn’t around, the geese would come up to me at my table and look at me as if they expected me to have some food. Or as if they were asking me where the Gooseman was. I used to yell at them and tell them I didn’t have any food and that I didn’t know where the Gooseman was; it wasn’t my turn to watch him. That usually satisfied them enough that they would go away and leave me alone. I never much cared for the geese myself. I mean, I like all wildlife, but gaggles of geese are not really my cup of tea. On top of that, they tend to leave green trailing turds behind them everywhere they go that are just so gross that I could puke. That is what makes up the green on the banks of the majority of the lagoons there, not grass. For that reason, I tended not to ever venture very far down to the waters, and probably why I tended to stick to the one particular bench that I could reach from directly off the pavement of the parking lot.

Time passed. It was maybe through four or five summers and falls that I would go down to the lagoons and spend a day or so a week with the Gooseman. Once I took my wife and there on a weekend, but he wasn’t around. After a time, I divorced, and after some more time, my job moved from nearby Northbrook to Wauconda, which was too far away for me to drive to the lagoons at lunch anymore. I moved too, and was no longer close enough to make it worth the trip on most weekends. Additionally, being single again, my life had changed a lot and I wasn’t treasuring things like peace and tranquility so much anymore. Once in a blue moon I would make a point to find the time to go to that old spot on that lagoon and play my guitar, but I never saw the Gooseman again.

On one such trip, I saw a goose standing apart from the flock. I recognized it as being ostracized because of what the Gooseman had taught me. It was squawking and it appeared to want to rejoin the flock, but the flock would close in and turn away each time it neared them. My heart went out to that goose, I knew how that felt. I was going through a time when many changes had come and my life was upside down. The friends that I had made while I was married were no longer my friends. I had tried to stay in contact with some, but most of them were married couples and choosing up sides, and usually it was not my side. I had always thought of my in-laws as my family, but they had completely ostracized me – my father-in-law and his sons actually wished me ill. I had left most of my old friends behind when I got married and had , and those of them that I could still find were generally not very good company. I found myself very much missing the Gooseman and wishing he would show up and sing some of his scat to some of my blues.

The lonely goose noticed me then and waddled over to my bench. I didn’t chase him off, rather, I tore off a little piece of bread from the subway sandwich I had brought with me that day, and I tossed it to him. He gobbled it up gratefully, and if geese could smile, he smiled. I sat there a while more and played my guitar and he sat with me and listened. I wondered where his ears were. For a time, we both had some good company.


RockyG666 63M
1357 posts
8/8/2013 4:02 pm

meow, thanks for pointing that out, i wanted to try to christian it up a little to sell it to a christian magazine

thank you too bloo


10/1/2013 5:57 pm

I love your stories. And I think you should write a book of them. You are a great story teller!

"Love is Patient..."

RockyG666 63M
1357 posts
10/2/2013 1:45 pm

that is on my list of things to do now that i am retarded, i mean retired


10/2/2013 4:26 pm

Me too. I want to write a book before I forget it all.

"Love is Patient..."