Thursday, July 24, 2003

a couple came into the store

A couple came into the store. There are so many older couples who come in, and we chat, exchange pleasantries, and then they go, the three of us remaining nameless. They think of me as the smiley apprentice girl, and I blend them into all the others I talk to. How many Betty's, Mary's, John's, in one day?

So. A couple came in. Her shirt was green, like Cabot Trail advertisements, her mouth tight around her teeth. His nose was bent in the middle, an old, old scar. One strand had come out of his perfect snow-white combover. When I asked how they were as they came in the door, she smiled and said, "Just wonderful."

They were from Texas, I discovered. She wanted to see puffins so we looked in the guidebook for tours. My father's being from the US was brought up, they discovered he was a draft dodger in the Vietnam era.

"Terrible war," the man said. "Had no business." I wonder if he feels he can say these kinds of things back home?

"And even the ones who came back from it, they were, you know, spat on at the airports, off the boats," she said.

"Is your father still alive?" He asked. I said yes. "He's in his early fifties."

"He'd be Doll's age," she said to him. "Around."

"Do you have a son?" I said. "No," she replied, then he chimed in, "The father of our god-children, he went to war. He died a few years ago, of a brain tumour. They're not sure..." ..if the two are connected, was left unsaid.

I said I was sorry to hear it. There was a brief lull. I shifted on my bare feet.

"So, puffin tours." I said. I told them how to get to Englishtown, where to find a puffin tour. When they left it was as if we'd shared some hidden wound, as strangers in passing can, they seemed a little embarrassed, as if I now had something of them that they couldn't get back. We were now close, but without being close. They left, got in the car, drove away.

A couple came into the store.

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