Prose from Brian Barbeito

The Broken Bell and The Death of Goodness

The lady asks the man serving the food why the container is only half full. He looks at her annoyed and remarks, ‘I do my best,’ and walks away. It’s obvious to everyone that it’s far from anybody’s best. Not long from there three men harass an actual security guard. ‘How much money do you make?’ He tells them it’s none of their business. Then they move on and try to speak to two women but the women won’t give them any attention, so low is their vibration and problematic their aura. Everyone is sullen and hardly anybody wants to be there. The place is almost empty. I remember the old man whose truck was stalled and nobody would help him in the cold and wind and snow with night approaching. I tried to help him but had difficulties. I am not a mechanic. A lady approaches me and looks at my coffee. I figure it’s not allowed. ‘Can I have the coffee here,’ I ask. ‘You can have the coffee. It’s that I am dying for a coffee also.’ She waits for an answer. I don’t know if she wants me to buy her a coffee. Outside I can see the night, the lights. There was a bread shop that used to donate to the homeless shelter where I worked. I notice it’s gone. I remember the shelter, for there were doors that looked as if they had spirits inside them, and there were many, many good men. And the shelter sat away from the lonesome one lane highway upon the top of a hill. I began work and you had to work part time to begin then, or I did, but I worked 88 hours a pay period which was 8 more hours than the full timers. And I learned much from everyone around me, and I learned many things about life but there is always much more to learn. Outside the window the wind blows cold and that particular town is dirty, grimy. There is some kind of bell affixed to a post. Maybe it is a Christmas bell. But the bell is broken. It’s inside must have fallen out, its ‘heart’ so to speak. The bell is then a shell. It has no heart. But who cares about the poor bell? Nobody. There isn’t even anybody around. The lights that guide the traffic turn. The ones that don’t, well they remain a rueful melancholic yellow. The radio said that storms will arrive. Storms. Ice. Hail. Colder air. As if the world there hadn’t enough trouble already. As if it needed more.