I’m sitting in that Park by that grand old abandoned cotton mill. It is well after midnight. The air is cool and has a palpable dampness to it. It reminds me of the term the British coined: rising damp. I am drinking coffee from my thermos and a lone police cruiser pulls into the parking lot just a few feet from me next to the post office and rolls down his window. A bright crescent moon adorns the early morning sky.
“You okay?” the officer asks from his patrol car.
“Yes sir and good morning to you,” I reply.
“I see you out here a lot in the morning. You can’t sleep?”
“Yeah, I walk every morning to just get out of the house. I like this time of the night to think and gather myself,” I reply as I take another drink of steaming coffee from my thermos cap.
“Well, I was just checking on you,” the police officer says. “You have a good night.”
I watched as he pulled off and disappeared beyond the post office to go about his nightly rounds. It was comforting to know the police were being so kind and just looking out for me. In this heightened age of hysteria after 9/11, he could have checked my ID and made a big deal of me sitting in that park alone at such an ungodly hour.
I left the park and walked over to the convenience store just down the road. My favorite after-hours clerk was sitting behind the counter, smoking a cigarette and listening to the radio. I noticed the very large no smoking sign on the door as I walked in and smiled. He was breaking the rules when no manager was around.
“Hey bud,” He said. “Good to see you. I’ve been wondering where you have been.”
“Had anymore patrons drinking beer in the bathroom?” I asked, jokingly, as I walked past.
He smiled broadly and said, “No, but I would catch that son of bitch on my watch.”
I knew how the clerk felt. When I worked here years ago, I would make a game out of catching shoplifters and caught quite a few during my tenure there. The only downside was that I had to spend a lot of time sitting during trumped up trials in kangaroo courts that can be our court system.
I then walked over to peruse the magazine section and picked out a magazine about PC repair/Computer Hardware and took it to the counter.
“You fix computers?” The clerk asks.
“I am pretty good with it,” I reply. “I can usually fix anything electronic.”
“My computer at home is slow as hell and I might get you to come check it out.”
“Just let me know,” I said. “And I will be glad to help.”
“Porn,” I thought as the clerk rang me up. I have found that many people’s problems with slow computers when it concerns guys, is that they are visiting a plethora of porn sites. Those websites are rife with Trojans, worms, and various viruses. I thought of all the early mornings I have walked in to find this clerk busily playing pocket pool to an issue of Plumpers magazine. I smiled as I walked out the door to head home. Men will be men. I never could get into much porn though. I guess I am the odd man out.