I saw him through the glass before he saw me. The door was open, I was feeling hot earlier, and the breeze swept through the aisles, rustling a few sheets of paper taped to the register. He stuck his head in, much like a turtle would from its shell, and then saw me around the corner. Hello. I smiled. Oh! Hello. He glanced down at the floor, and then gingerly stepped over the boundary, inside. He looked at me, I was sitting on a stool, my laptop open to a viral YouTube video. I slowly opened another tab. Google. Safe.
He looked like an animated turtle. You know, with the wrinkles, the perfect wrinkles. As if parts of his skin had given up holding on while others were still determined. The skin on his neck was sagging, vertically, paralleled. He wore a comfortable mossy green button-down and corduroy pants that were two shades or so darker. There were two pins set on the right of his shirt and a soft square bulge in his shirt pocket.
He asked me if the building used to by chance be an electrical company in the 70′s. I told him I wouldn’t know. He said he used to be a salesman for that company. He met his wife shortly after, marrying her only 8 months afterwards, his boss being the best man. He said he had grandchildren, 6 to be exact. The oldest was almost as tall as he was, 16 years of age. I smiled and nodded at the right moments.
He said his best man had passed away only a few months ago, he had a brain tumor. He had grandchildren too.
He said he quit smoking. But he just went and got another pack today. My eyes widened and I let out a small laugh. He said it had only been 12 hours since he stopped. He was awake the whole time, he said. He couldn’t go to sleep.
He said he was looking at houses on Google Earth. He often did that because of his job. He dealt with real estate. He told me he was looking at a house on his laptop and came out determined to find it, just to see it. He didn’t usually get to physically see houses. He wanted to today though. He told me he saw it. It looked exactly like it had on his screen.
He was going to buy a hotel, he said. A couple hundred rooms, off over on the east coast. He wouldn’t be spending his own money, of course. Investors, he said. He helped them, they helped him. He was rattling off unfamiliar terms when I started to drift away. I wished then that I was a business major. I would be able to communicate with him then.
He finished and asked my name. I told him. Ah. Someone else by that name turned my life around. I felt a sense of pride in the few letters that scrambled together to create my identity. Of course, this name only belongs to good people. He smiled, his eyes were large and clear, a light brown, tinged with a sort of gray.
He saluted me, thanking me for the talk, and left. I had barely said anything.