Peter Cherches

Compassion

A man who looked like my mother with a mustache told me I must be on the wrong line. Isn’t this the line for compassion? I asked. No, this is the line for luncheon meat, he replied. Well, then, where is the line for compassion? I asked. Let me see, he said, I think the compassion line is down that way (he pointed), between mustard and indignation.

I started walking toward mustard and indignation, but I could find no compassion, as the line between mustard and indignation turned out to be the one for bird calls.

I asked the guy at the end of the bird call line if he knew where the compassion line was. I think I remember seeing it when I was heading over here, he said, let me think. Oh yes, it’s over there (he pointed), just past incontinence.

I didn’t really feel like passing incontinence, so I waited on the bird call line instead. I waited 45 minutes and then my turn came. I was given the Swainson’s Thrush. It was stunningly beautiful. As beautiful, I’d venture to say, as compassion.

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Peter Cherches is a writer, jazz singer and lyricist living in Brooklyn, New York. His latest book of fiction is Lift Your Right Arm (Pelekinesis, 2013).