The old fellow sat silent in Murphy’s,
Drinkin’ Crown Royal and nursin’ a beer,
When four meterosexy boys from somewhere down south,
Mocked a local about shootin’ a deer.
You could tell by lookin’ at the old man’s face,
That he’d seen
A lot of hard miles.
And he didn’t bother with no one,
And not once did he break down and smile.
Sixty years in the bush,
And carryin’ an old 44,
Had made him a man,
Of subdued observation.
That was only made worse,
By the war.
He’d been drinkin’ at Fat Murphy’s Tavern,
For well over thirty five years,
But no one knew much about the grizzled old man,
In the ancient plaid shirt and grey beard.
But for one Friday night down at Murphy’s,
The silence was about to be broken,
By a stupid young man,
Who had drank too much ale,
And whose soul was marked,
To be woken.
Then, as if prompted, the city boy said,
That the north was no place to live,
That the winds blew too cool,
And the winters were cruel,
And the north was a wasteland,
Filled with rocks and old fools.
And the barroom went too much too quiet,
But for the scrapin’ sound of a chair.
Fat Murphy knew what was comin’,
And he began to recite The Lord’s Prayer.
The old man turned and faced the brash youngster,
His smile was a hard, empty brand.
Then he pulled out his knife,
From the sheath on his belt,
And drove it into the foolish lad’s hand!
The lad sat there,
But he didn’t cry out,
He just bled.
Then the old man laughed,
And said to the boy,
”You should have someone look at that mess."
"Or you can do the patrons a favour,
And sit quiet and just bleed to death.”
Fat Murphy grabbed a beer soaked rag,
From the sink,
And walked over to the now silent table.
He reached down,
Grabbed the handle,
And pulled out the knife,
”I’d apologize, if you was able.”
The old man sat down and stared at the fool,
Who seconds ago wore his blade,
And watched the boy’s blood,
As it dripped to the floor,
And watched the scared boy as he swayed.
Then the old man pointed his finger,
And pummeled the young person’s chest.
And he spoke in a calm, but menacing tone,
To the boy who sat there,
In his chair.
Sonny, you just sat your first test!
You’ve got a big mouth for a city boy.
Just what do you know about life?
You figure you’re smarter than everyone here,
Till your tongue was cut short by a knife!
Welcome to your comeuppance!
And all the damp, dreary days still ahead.
You’ll sit and get thin,
In the cold, cursed wind,
And pray to the sky,
You were dead!
Time to learn about things from the centre.
Cast adrift to be bruised and cajoled.
With no mommy to coddle,
Where dying’s a doddle,
And a man will cry out,
As he pounds back a bottle,
To discover a place worse than hell!”
If you heal up and get smarter,
You’ll come back, one day,
And remember the soft, hollow sound,
Of a knife cuttin’ bone,
And your arrogance stumblin’,
And the blood slowly oozin’ around.
Keep a civil tongue in your head, young fellow.
And be pleasant to whomever you meet.
Keep your eyes wide open,
And your big mouth shut!
Or you’ll end up dead in the street!
Then the old man went back to his table,
And Fat Murphy brought him a beer.
I’m sorry the young lad disturbed you, he said,
It’s generally quiet around here
The old man smiled, but kept silent,
Things are not always as they appear.
That the young can often learn from the old,
Or from the death of a whitetail deer.
- Murphy, 2017