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.

One thought on “Forecast

  1. nicely wrought, Mr. L. We have a similar grouping at the local mall: for years I have watched as an ever shifting group of elderly people meet in the food court, age, morph from elderly to infirm, and sometimes widowhood, from week to week, year to year. Now and then a new face appears, or a new couple, an extra place is made at the table,
    and I wonder, sometimes, how they find each other. Does one older person suddenly see these others and think, hey, I wonder… or it is by invitation only? Neighbors? someone’s younger brother? They always seem to be having a good time, as if life had been, not necessarily kind, but worth the trip.

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