The day after I couldn’t stop smiling – until I saw him.  The man was all black.  His shirt, pants, the cigar he held to his lips, even his skin was black-brown.

He was seated alone outside the small Italian café.  It’s a place I often walk to when we visit Jacob.

I’d seen him there many times, but we’d never spoken. A handsome man, maybe 60.  Thick dark hair flecked with gray.

The few tables still wore the Sunday morning rush.  Stacks of white plates with bits of pastry and emptied white coffee cups glistened in the sunlight.

Holding a mug with a steaming Americano, I searched for a clear spot.  There was only one – where he sat with his back to me watching the traffic.

When I approached, he got up.

Here. Let me move aside.

O thank you. I love this place.  Are you the owner?  I sat down across from him.

No.  That’s my brother.  He looked up at the sky and almost winced.

Beautiful day.

Yes it is.

We watched the traffic slow, then come to a standstill as the drawbridge over the Intracoastal rose.

My coffee smelled chocolatey, shimmering in its ceramic mug. I felt my smile return.  Should I share my news with him?  This stranger?   I took a sip.

My son got engaged yesterday

He turned his whole body to face me.

He did?  Ahhh.  That’s so nice!  Was it a surprise?

No.  We were expecting it.  Just not sure when.

Ahhh.  That’s wonderful.  How old is he?

30.  And she’s 23.

That’s perfect.  My son’s 24.  Lives with a girl. Wants to wait until he’s 30.  But we’ll see…Yeah.  That’s really something.  Good news is good to hear.  Thanks for sharing.

Yes.  We are very happy about this

Ahhh, that is great.

He looked out at the passing cars, chewing his cigar.

Yeah, you know, you hear such…such bad things.  I just lost a close friend.  He was sick, very sick, but still….his voice trailed off.

Yeah, thank you for telling me.  It’s good to hear happy stories.   That’s really something…

The traffic started to speed up again, the bridge now down.

Well, I need to take my walk, he said, and rose from the table.  As he moved away, he glanced back, still holding his cigar.

Yeah.  That’s really something.  Good news is good to hear.  Thanks for sharing.



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