birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Meet Bill

Meet my friend Bill. He is a regular at the bar. Aside from drinking beer, he is a worker and a Navy veteran. He has been a firefighter, a lumberjack, a wild plant forager and a tanning bed operator. These days his job has him traveling to auctions at old sawmills across the Northwest to buy up parts as the mills close.

He is in his early 70s. His hair is gray. His skin is spotted and rough looking. He looks like a strong guy, a big guy and is a bit overweight. He is often wearing an irreverent t-shirt or perhaps a relevant t-shirt, such as when he went to the doctor this week and wore a bright blue one with large white type: “I plan on LIVING FOREVER ...so far, so good!” He said his doctor liked that. He wears a Carhartt jacket sometimes with Carhartt work pants that bunch a little at the ankles. Lately it’s been his brown “Veteran” hat. And he usually has a Buck knife in his pocket.

Bill talks like a regular Northwest guy from the rural parts. He is often pretty happy but sometimes he’ll be quiet and tired, or fired up from something he’d seen in the news. Sometimes he has a good story, facts about the tanning industry, an opinion about the media, a clever comment, or a sometimes a joke that an uncle or grandpa might make. I don’t think Bill is either of those things. He’s also told me about the Vietnam War and his time in the Navy.

He is easily amused. When he starts up on a chuckle, it’s usually because of his own cleverness. With quiet laughter he’ll get locked into a grin and then move up and down with the head, neck and shoulders as a unit, vertically bobbing in delight. When he smiles, you would see he is missing a tooth on the upper right side of his mouth.

From afar you would see a sturdy silhouette of a man in either a ball cap or a high-vis orange stocking cap. You would notice his cute little beagle on its pink leash. (Her name is Ms. Oula.) You would notice the dog’s bells, which sound like Christmas. You would notice Bill feeding her pretzels or even strawfuls of hot chocolate.

It's EZ

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