I remember seeing this man, every morning, for over a year. I'd see him walking as if in a hurry. A slight limp.
The same clothes. Everyday walking. Everyday alone. I could see him from my second floor window. At the time I lived above a shop on a busy street.
"Where was he going?" I thought.
An hour later he'd be walking back, as if meeting a deadline. I could see him coming up the street, high stepping it, in some sort of march. Still alone.
The same thing everyday. Always alone.
He came into a restaurant one morning when I was there, having breakfast. A local greasy spoon a few blocks away. Of course he was alone. He sat in an empty booth facing me.
My question about where he was going all these times, had been answered.
He was older than I thought. In his late seventies early eighties. Up close, you could see the miles of living etched on his face.
He looked at me as he sat. A certain loneliness in his eyes, like he wanted to say hello.
I wanted to say hello back, I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to know what was driving this man to be so regular.
But neither one of us spoke. Infact, he had brought a newspaper in with him. He opened it and hid behind it the whole time I was there.
He drank his coffee, ate his toast. I finished my bacon and eggs. He never once looked up.
He folded the paper. Got up, fumbled in his pocket for a quarter to leave as a tip, then walked past me without once giving me any eye contact or any acknowledgement.
He paid. No words were exchanged between him and the waitress. She took his money. He left.
That was a ten years ago, I don't see him anymore. Sometimes if I get up early enough I'll wait and watch from my window to see if maybe I might see him again, walking those same steps, going for breakfast.
He's probably dead now. As I said. He was in his late seventies or early eighties, back then.
I often think about that man, as I walk down the street to the restaurant every morning. Alone.
I notice I have a slight limp as I walk. Years of battling the gout. Did he suffer from the gout too? I will never know.