He stood on the street corner with his collar turned up against the wind. Still as sculpture, the only signs of life he gave were the puffs of steam from his breathing that blew off sideways across his face in the light of the flickering streetlamp. His figure was obscured by the big coat, but I knew he'd be wearing his signature white oxford and plain, earthy tie under a tweed jacket and old brown hopsack pants. His hands were jammed way down in his pocket, but I knew there'd be a copy of A Clockwork Orange in one and a pack of Kent Filters in the other. Probably the only reason he didn't have one out now was that the wind was too strong to light one. Or else his hands were too cold.

Either way, he leaned on the post and made no motion to address my presence as I approached, although my footsteps were carried toward him on the wind such that he'd probably heard me coming from a block away. Although I'd been meeting him here on this street corner once every two weeks for the last eight months, I still didn't know his name. We all called him Alex, in tribute to the only thing we knew he liked. He never answered his calls, instead screened them with a message that simply said 'leave a message'. When he called back he just said 'you called?' So when I walked up to him on the street, I always felt a little awkward.

But the exchange went just the way it always did, I handed him one package, and he handed me another. My instructions were the same as always: dump the package he'd given me in the trashcan on the southwest corner of Fulton and Myrtle. What he did with his packages I couldn't say. I never even got up the nerve to open one to see what was inside.

He nodded to me and turned around. I said 'see ya, Alex.' He paused and made a noise that could have been chuckling, then walked away. I stood watching him till he rounded the corner, then turned back the way I'd come to make my drop off. It sure was a cold one. What was that line? That line from Clockwork Orange... I can never remember...

nodeshell saved because it's too good a phrase to lose

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