Connections and Relations
#1 The Twenty Minutes
I go to the pier every evening after work. I sip tea and enjoy the breeze in silence. Those are the best twenty minutes of my day.
I see a dozen or so people every time, four of which are regulars. Sometimes, one of them smiles.
An old man has joined our quartet for a month now. He sits staring at the sea. I felt I should speak to him earlier this week, when our eyes met. But I let that idea slip, valuing my twenty minutes more. Besides I had to speak to Dad later that day for help with fixing the car.
#2 The Awkward Acquaintance
Today the old man walked up to me. He introduced himself with a smile.
“Love the breeze around here.”
Sat there for an hour talking to him. He is bearable and sometimes funny. He is living with his daughter after he moved from his son’s place who went to prison last month.
“I don’t believe he is guilty. His company framed him and put their crimes on his name.” After a pause, “But then a parent never believes their child to be guilty.” He let out a self-piteous laugh. “I hope I am not boring you.” “I don’t mind.” I smiled.
#3 The Hilarious Hyperbole
I have changed my usual spot. I sit with the old man now. He is usually silent, but sometimes he shares unusual stories about his life. I admit they are amusing and hilarious. I think he makes them up. And besides never having been much of a talker, arguing with a eighty-six year old man who is convinced that he grew a potato as large as a tow truck, was futile to me. I absolutely do not know why I have traded my twenty minutes of silence for hearing how a man can lose an elephant on a beach.
#4 The Rusty Rapport
“You don’t speak much kid. You new lot are a volatile species. My boy has an opinion on everything. An answer or argument for everything I say. You don’t seem to hold any strong views. Am I just a loony old man whose stories you come to laugh at after work ?”
I laugh. He is hilarious sometimes. “Exactly that, old man. Guilty. As to my views, I keep them to me. Find them controversial.”
“You remind me of my son. Or rather of how opposite you are. How is your car job coming along ?”
#5 The Broken Car
Today I went back to my old spot at the pier. Wanted some peace. Colleagues left me alone because of what happened. The old man doesn’t know about it yet. He walks up to me, and smiles asking me why I wouldn’t sit with him. I can’t face him. “How’s your car son ?” he asks.
I would have kept looking at the sea but that last word breaks me.
“I can’t.” My eyes betray me and tear up. He looks on, waiting. “Dad’s gone. The car’s dead. How will it move forward now ? I don’t think I can fix it.” “You can. We always can.”
#6 The Road Ahead
I reach the pier to find him in my spot with two chairs, a bottle of wine and two glasses. “Let’s drink to misery today, son.” I silently sat in my chair. His son got a life sentence. “You see, justice is not always served right. The innocent does not always win if he has light pockets.” I nod in agreement and take a large sip. “You still believe he is innocent?” I ask. He answers with silence and pours himself another glass and says, “Well, gives me an excuse to drink, son.” I like it when he calls me that. I think he does too.