Issue 5 cover

The Pearl Diver with the Gold Chain

by Paul Hogan

Issue 5 :: Winter 2009 (stories)

Man, thanks for stopping. This is a terrible road. What is it they call this section of the Schuylkill Expressway, Killer Alley?

You call it the Surekill Crawlway? That's a good name for it. I've ridden my bike from Maine to Baja and I never saw anything like this. It's worth your life to change lanes in a Mack, let alone on a bicycle. It's a damn shame they can't squeeze a four-foot-wide bike lane along these superhighways. I mean, what would it increase the cost by, one one-hundredth of one percent? The morons never think of bikers or hikers. They have more excuses than brains, that's for sure.

Well, anyway, thanks for picking me up. I don't usually accept rides, what with my bike and pack and all. As a matter of fact, not too many people would even stop for me. I guess I look too freaky for them. I started wearing these threads when I got out of the army. I got this campaign hat from an Aussie guy I met in Nam. Man, now everybody and his brother has one. I guess it's time to get rid of it, but I'm sort of attached to it after all these years.

Oh, all sorts of people give me charms for it. I first put one of those Monopoly battleships on it and then people started laying little bikes, cannons, zodiac signs, everything on me. I couldn't very well disappoint them, so now I have more than three dozen of the damn things hanging from my hat. I think they look nice.

Now take these Levis and my sleeveless leather jacket. The only ones who wore them when I started out were motorcycle types. Now every guy in college has them. I don't understand motorcycles at all. They're noisy and dirty and expensive. And they aren't too safe either.

People used to be put off by my beard, too. Nowadays, you look strange if you don't have a beard. It's funny.

This is a nice yellow pickup truck you have.


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"The Pearl Diver with the Gold Chain" is roughly 4895 words.

Paul Hogan: Eighty-two years old. Perfect health. Visited forty-nine countries. Two years in the Merchant Marine in WWII. Two trips on a ship carrying German POWs to Europe and GIs home. Eleventh Airborne Division during Korean War. Peace Corps Regional Director in Colombia during Viet Nam War. Finishing his tenth year as a Township Supervisor. Three kids, third wife (this one's a keeper). Designed and built over four hundred playgrounds; two books on the subject. Author of "A Philadelphia Childhood." Designs and makes furniture. Web site: Articles in numerous papers and magazines on travel and play, including The New York Times.