It was during my recent period of unemployment
. I had an early interview and stopped into a local diner afterwards, knowing that I still no longer had a job. I sat at the counter, "he" was sitting next to me. His clothes
were grubby, not homeless
grubby, but well word and comfortable grubby,the type of clothes you only wore on weekend
s. I turned my head and my eyes met his, breifly, but somewhere a conenction had been made. "'ullo", he said. It was a thick lower-class english
accent, the kind identifiable in just one word. Quite unusual in Portland, OR
. I said a quick "hi" back.
About that time I got my breakfast, and his coffee cup was fillled. We sat there in silence. I ate runny eggs and sopped up the yolk with my toast, he sipped his coffe and eventaully ate a pis. Our eyes never left our respective meals. After I finnished my meal, from my left I heard "So, wot's yer name?".
"Eli", I replied. The man stuck out a calloused hand.
"I'm Paul" he said, allthough through his mouth the word sounded more like "pool", but the message got through. He had a quiet smile, I shook the hand
with a quick nod.
We both got up at about the same time. I headed to the bus stop. A few moment later I saw Paul emerge from the diner and headed in my direction. He walked up beneath the sign for the bus stop
, glanced at me then looked straight forward. "goin' downtown
?" he muttered.
"yup", I said, not quite sure how to make conversation with the individual, but not really in much a mood to try.
The bus arrived without another word between us. We both boarded and took seat
on opposite sides at the back of the bus. All was quiet
for a few stops then the bus was boarded by a beautiful woman. Not just your average, "oh yeah I'd do her" woman, but I mean a jaw droppingly beautiful, "make all heads in the room turn" gorgeous
. The type of woman who is automatically hated by her peers beautiful. I hear from the right of me, "cor, woman like dat ain't supoosed to be on no bus, woman like that wot need be in a limo
, or one of dem fancy 'vertibles what wit fancy sunglasses
an her hair blowin and all, smokin' 'spensive cigarette
I turn and there's Paul, not looking at her anymore, just sitting, that quiet smile
still on his face. I think he then noticed me looking at him, because he just turned and asid, "wanna grab a pint
?". I looked at my watch, 11AM, bars were just opening.
"eh, why not?", I said.
I spent the whole day just going from place to place with Paul, never got his story
, he never really said much either, then again neither did I. We drank beer
, played pool
, and just watched the world
go by, the whole time that quiet smile never leaving his face. It was like spending the day with a friend
you've known so long that words are no longer nessecary, yet I only met him that morning.
As the sun went down we walked to the main bus
-mall and nodded a quick goodbye
. I naver saw him again, but i never really felt the need to. Something about him just told you that everything was OK. the next week I went to work on a contract, and things for me started looking up, and from that day forward whenever I see a beautiful
woman get on the bus I hear Paul's voice saying, "cor, a woman like that...."