As I sat in the cafe in town cuddling a hot coffee with my fingers against the cold of a late winter rain in April, a strange looking man in a dark long coat approached my table. He gave me a begging look and I nodded my head. He moved a chair out and sat down across from me in a slow and deliberate manner, adjusting the tails of his long coat about his thighs and the chair, removing his woolen gloves which were a greenish color but were mottled with spots of varying color and sheen. He placed his gloves down on the table and rubbed under his nose with the index finger of his left hand a couple of times, picked up a paper napkin and carefully folded it once and wiped under his nose again with the napkin then wadded the napkin in his left hand and tucked it into his coat pocket. With his right hand he signaled the waitress, the index finger extended properly up toward the ceiling, and said with a rough voice, "Coffee, please."
The waitress brought his coffee
and topped mine up almost over filling my cup. I poured some out into the
saucer to make room for the cream and sugar. I noticed the waitress was staring
at the strange looking man sitting across from me, her mouth open a little bit
and a look of disbelief in her eyes. Not a lot of disbelief, only a small
amount. I, too, began staring at the strange looking man. He didn't seem to
When it looked like he was
settled in and had cream and sugar in his coffee and was cuddling his cup with
his fingers against the cold I thought to start a conversation but was having
trouble thinking of something to start a conversation with. I just sat in my
chair cuddling my coffee cup with my cold fingers against the cold of the day
lifting my cup up off the table for a warm sip now and then, looking around the
cafe and at the strange looking man and I began to notice things. Things about
the strange looking man.
I noticed he was wearing a knit
cap like a Navy watch cap only it wasn't black like a Navy watch cap. It was
the color of a bosc pear when it is ripe and succulent and most tasteful, a
dark brownish yellow. The cap also had sewn on it a bright yellow Star of David
like the ones the Nazis made the Jews wear in the ghettos in Poland during the
holocaust, only it wasn't. It just looked like one. I wondered why it was
bright and not dingy and mottled like the gloves and the cap upon which it was
sewn. His long coat was probably not one color either but in the dim light of
the cafe I could not see it as good as I could see the gloves and his cap.
I really didn't want to have a
conversation with him so I stopped thinking about it. We both sat there,
holding onto our coffees wrapped in our cold fingers and sipping some now and
then, not speaking, only looking around the cafe and noticing things. After a
while of this I began thinking that perhaps he thought I was strange looking
and maybe he didn't want to do anything to start a conversation with me and
maybe he stopped thinking about that too and just decided to just sit there and
drink his coffee.
He took a good, noisy sip of his
coffee and set his cup down on the table and gripped it moving his fingers
around it like a golfer setting his grip on a driver so that the warmth could
be spread to some of his colder fingers. "Cold out, ain't it?" he
Damn, I thought.