You Are Your Story - The Scrap Man

THE SCRAP MAN


    The Scrap Man was real---
    As real as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
    As real as my horses.
    'Course Samantha says my horses aren't real.  Sometimes I hate being her brother.  Just because she's two years older than me, so she thinks she knows everything.  That's what started the whole thing.
    See, we were in this room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, resting.  I was there on vacation with my family, "seeing the sights."  as Dad calls it.
    I was telling Mom and Dad all about my horses.  I mean Samantha didn't even need to listen if she didn't want to.  She could have gone off and looked at pictures or something.
    But first I suppose I got to explain to you about my horses.
    I had these horses once.  At least I think I did.  I have pictures of them in my mind,  like memories.  In one picture I am whizzing through the countryside on a train and I look out in the fields and there are all these pretty horses of every color you can imagine, blue and red and yellow and green. They are racing around the fields in groups, like leaves being blown by the wind.  Another time they are in a ring, like at a circus.  They are dancing around in circles.  Then   sometimes I am with them,  leading them wherever I want.  I don't even have to have reins on them. They just follow the sound of my voice. 
    So I am telling Mom and Dad about my horses when Samantha butts in and says "Sure, sure, all these horses are going to do whatever you say," and she has her head tilted to one side like she does when she is being snotty or making fun of me. 
    "Well," I say, "they do. They do whatever I say.  What do you know about it?"
    "I know there aren't really any horses that are red or green or blue," she says.  "Horses aren't those colors, are they Dad."
    "Well, I don't know," says Dad.  "But I think maybe we have rested enough."
    "I'm still tired," I say.  "Why don't you let me stay here while you look some more."  I really am tired.  But also I don't like being with Samantha when she's that way.  I mean sometimes she's nice, but not when she thinks I don't know anything.
    Well, Mom and Dad talk it over.  Mom says I don't have this thing she calls "judgment".  She says thats why I'm always getting into trouble.  But Dad says what can I possibly do just sitting in this room in the museum.  So they decide I can be there by myself for a little while.   
    "You have your books in your pack," Mom says.  "So I guess you won't get bored."
    "We'll be back in one half hour," Dad says. 
    So when they're gone I look around the room and see this man sitting on a bench near me.  He's an old black man.  He has on this plaid coat that's way too big for him, and he looks kind of scruffy, like he doesn't have much money.  I think maybe he's a homeless man, but I'm not sure.  See we're from Bethany, Indiana, and we don't have homeless people right in Bethany.  So I'm not sure what a homeless man might look like.  I'm not sure what you say to one either.  So I look at him and I say "You want my sandwich?"
    "What kind is it?" he asks.
    "Peanut butter and jelly."
    "O.K." he says.      
    I dig into my pack where my lunch is and take out the sandwich.  He eats it all in about one minute and then says, "you got anything to drink"
    "Sure," I say, and I dig out my chocolate milk and give that to him too.
    When he finishes drinking it he says, "Thank you."
    "I've got horses," I say.
    "Course you do," he says.  I'm sort of surprised cause he sounds like he means it. 
    "You got horses too?" I ask.
    "Sure," he says.  "I got lots of horses.  Tell me about your horses."
    So I explain all about my horses, just like I told you about them.  He listens like he really is interested. 
    "My sister doesn't think my horses are real," I tell him. 
    "That's because she only looks with her eyes," he says.
    "What do you mean?" I ask.
    "Your kind of horses you got to see with your heart," he says.
    I thought about this a while and then asked, "So are they real or not?"
    "There's different kinds of real," he says. 
    I reckon I look kind of puzzled cause he thinks for a minute, and then says, "Look here.  You come with me.  I got something to show you."
    I follow him this way and that through the museum till we come to a room where there are some pictures of horses.  They were red and blue and green and every which color just like mine. 
    "Those your horses?" he asks.
    "Yep." 
    "I figure this Mr. Marc who did these pictures saw the same horses you did," he says. 
    I nod,  There is no denying it. 
    "Let's us make a picture of them," he says.
    "How can we do that?"
    Well, he pulls all these scraps of colored paper out of one pocket and a tube of Elmer's Glue out of the other.  "I make pictures out of paper sometimes," he says.  "I'll show you how."  He takes the map of the art museum I have with me and glues little pieces of paper he tears up to it until little by little this picture appears.  There I am in the middle of four horses, a red one, a blue one, a yellow one, and a green one.  Its beautiful. 
    He gives me the picture and says, "we got to get back now."  
    On the way back to the room where I will meet my family he tells me that one day he and I will own a ranch together, and that it will have horses of every color.  And he tells me we will ride our horses out on camping trips, and sleep under the stars and tell stories of far away times and places. 
      Then we come to the door of the room where my family left me. "Do you think that ranch will ever be real?" I ask.
    "There's all kinds of real, Cowboy" he says.  "We already learned that." Then he turns and walks away.  
    Before long I see my family coming. 
    I run up to Samantha.  "Somebody told me my horses are real," I said.  "and he's older than you by a long shot."
    And, of course, I have my picture to prove it.

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