Automatic doors shush as bodies come and go, some on legs, others on wheels, some bent, some straight. Rain pelts each in their coming and going, indiscriminate. Shoes squeak on the linoleum that covers the foyer of the hospital. A man sits beneath his green and yellow John Deere hat watching, still wrapped in a light weight tan coat, over a plaid shirt.
My wife is here for an employment fair, unaware that I am waiting to whisk her off to the beach for her birthday. A surprise, a pleasant break just the two of us, for her birthday.
The rain is what starts our conversation, its song against the window lulls us to the edge of sleep, before a laugh spills into a questions of purpose in being here. Over two hours from home, I meet a man who lived on my street, fifteen years ago, since moved. He waits for his parents to be released.
"I met my best friend one night in the parking lot of the apartment complex at the end of our road. He came out of the shadows and landed right in my chest. Dirty and covered in ticks, I cleaned him up. Found the owners a couple weeks later and they wanted me to chain him up out back, so I asked if I could have him. They were more than happy to see him go."
"He was a golden retriever. Hadn't been trained, not house broke.I tell you though, its true, give them one good year and they will give you ten. I trained him up and he was loyal til the day he died."
"When he died I sunk over two thousand dollars trying to find out what was wrong with him. Never could figure it out, but every time I went to see him, he would raise his head at my voice and perk up. He passed a couple years back.We used to do everything together."
"Haven't had the heart to replace him."
His story fills the gaps between us, eyes misting as he remembers his dear friend. He periodically shifts to keep circulation moving in the hard chairs of the waiting room.
"Lynchburg was a great place to live, but a hard place to make a living."
I tell him I understand and we lapse into silence, each watching for those we await. People continue in and out, the door shushes, the rain knocks the window asking to come in.
"Well, there are my parents. It was great talking with you."
You as well, I take his hand, our eyes sharing space for a moment. He adjusts the hat on his head, then joins them. They disappear beyond the blanket of falling rain, leaving me to sit. The black hands continue their jerky movement around the white clock face, each minute a soft click.
There is no great revelation in our meeting, just two humans, strangers no longer, even if ever so briefly. A small note in the grand symphony of life.
written for Imperfect Prose