We were two young boys on a mission. I told my friend that what he had told me was not true, and now he had to prove it. I did not call him a liar; I just thought he was mistaken about what he saw.

We spotted the target of our investigation on Main Street. We thought he had to be the oldest man in town. He was dressed in the attire that a lawyer was expected to wear. His suit had not been cleaned nor pressed in months, his shirt and tie needed attention, but he carried himself with the dignity of a professional man. My friend and I tried to look nonchalant, like we were not spying, and when the old man spoke, we were almost stumped for an answer. We finally said "Hi" and quickly walked away.

My friend delivered newspapers to the old lawyer's office above the bank, and I went with him on occasion when he dropped the paper off. The dimly lighted office smelled of old books and wood.  The old man was always at his desk, which was covered with important looking papers. That impression was why what my friend had told me was so hard to believe.

About a week after we had started our quest, we were walking behind the elderly gentleman when he suddenly stopped by a window on Main Street and took an envelope from his inside coat pocket. He  carefully scraped the bird droppings off the windowsill into the envelope and put it back in his pocket. My friend grabbed my arm and said, "See! He collects bird turds".

We must have looked ridiculous following the old barrister around waiting for him to find more bird waste to deposit in his envelope. I was amazed and couldn't wait to tell all my friends. I told my blind friend Jim, and wished he could see such a sight. I told my dad about it, and he just said, " Oh yes, Charlie has been cleaning up after the birds for years". I expected more of a reaction.

It was years later, after my blind friend Jim had become a lawyer and was practicing law in the very same office that Charlie had once occupied, when I read a sign he had above his desk.  It was a quote from Abe Lincoln that said "
A Lawyer's Time and Advice Is His Stock in Trade". Jim said, "Yes that is what lawyers do."

With a smile in my voice for Jim, I said, "All this time I thought they just collected bird shit."

2002 Maurice D. Karst
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