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Location: Kentucky, United States

Friday, July 25, 2003

Fly Soup

His name is Fly Soup. At least he goes by that name. The story, a local legend, says that when his father was on his deathbed, as a nose thumbing gesture at society Fly Soup promised he would never work a day in his life. One day he was so hungry, he caught flies, boiled them and ate them as soup. Proud of his ingenuity, he told a few people and the word spread, all over the county. He’ll tell you that Fly Soup is his name.

He sits on the benches surrounding the old courthouse in the public square. Cars circle all day; it is the center of his earth. He has sat there for as long as I can remember. As a child, he scared me. I did not understand the man who stared at us as we circled around the courthouse. He was always filthy, unshaven, unkept. I would watch him watch us as we drove by. I still do not understand. I guess he sees himself as some modern day Thoreau, whose Walden is an island in a circling river of cars, people floating by, trapped in their currents.

That was several years ago. Now he is swollen with congestive heart failure. The filth is worse, much worse. He still comes everyday to sit on the square when the weather allows. He is not homeless. He is just a small town eccentric, one who has set out to do nothing. It is almost artistic in a way; it is quite an accomplishment, or lack of anyway. The shear effort never to put out an effort for all those years is a monument to apathy.

One day I sat on the bench and watched the cars circle the courthouse. It was very peaceful setting there and interesting to watch the people drive by, and wonder what they were thinking and where they were going; but the call was insistent, and life is more than watching, so after a few moments I got up and plunged back into the stream, happy to feel the current pull me along.

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