Monday, March 02, 2009

Cyrano d'Andrew

Children can be so cruel. Jan Kowalka is forty-three years old, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a good provider for his family, and he is a devoted father to his daughter and son. He lives off Boston Street in a third floor apartment he rents from his parents, who live on the ground floor. His sister and her husband live on the second story.

Jan Kowalka has a big nose, what Jimmy Durante would call a schnozzola. It's a honker. It doesn't look out of place on his face, but if it were on mine it would stand out like the monument at Dorchester Heights. It would be as prominent as the Hancock Tower in Boston's skyline viewed from Columbia Point. He has been called "Buzzard" since he started attending school. So many years later, on job sites and at the Dot Tavern, people around the neighborhood still call him "Buzz." He's gotten used to it. After all, a man is born with a face and then he learns to live with it.

Buzz Kowalka was walking down Washburn Street this morning, trudging through the snow with his lunchpail, when he was accosted by a gang of children. Though they would normally be in school at this hour but a few inches of snow had fallen in Dorchester overnight and the kids were free to have the run of the streets. "Hey mister," one of the rapscallions called, "Your nose is so big I bet I can peg it with a snowball with my eyes closed." Then he attempted to do just that.

The missle hit its mark and Mr. Kowalka's hat was knocked of his head. He couldn't see for a moment and he tripped on the uneven sidewalk that was buried under the eight inches of snow that came up over his ankles. Mr. Kowalka hit his head on a plastic trash barrel and his lunchpail fell into a snowdrift. The perpetrators scattered. Who knows where? Mr. Kowalka's nose was bleeding.

He headed back home and his wife applied a styptic pencil to to his left nostril to stanch the red stream that was dripping over his lips. After receiving first aid, Mr. Kowalka re-fit his hat, re-wrapped his scarf and trudged down Washburn Street again to retrieve his lunch and get to work, hopefully on time

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