It’s Saturday morning and he goes to the bookstore’s café, as usual, for a second cup of coffee, a blueberry muffin, and a chance to eavesdrop on the geezers.
Woody, at 84, struggles to his feet to hug a passing customer—a woman half his age—also celebrating a birthday. His buddies, scattered around the table like dried leaves around the trunk of an ancient oak, still manage to coalesce long enough to sing them both a song and raise a coffeecup toast before thanking Megan for the candled cupcakes and launching into recollections of other birthdays, fifty or sixty years ago.
After the tray has made its rounds, one of them—the one who usually totes around Woody’s oxygen—stops by his table and offers him one. He’s only halfway through his muffin, but when he looks over in Woody’s direction and sees him looking back and smiling expectantly, he lifts one gingerly off the tray, makes his own little toasting motion in the old man’s direction, and mentally calculates how much longer until, arriving, he spies an empty seat at the table and is invited to fill it.