A Stranger While Scratchin'
By ice rivers
I am scratching a $5 lottery ticket.
He passes me on his way to the Food Lion. His jeans fit him a whole lot better than mine would fit me if I were wearing jeans. I'm in sweat pants and sweat shirt. We both have glasses. His lenses are transition. I can't see his eyes but he can see mine. Pretty sure he's seeing more clearly out of his spec than I am out of mine than I am out of mine. My glasses are temporary as cataract surgery is in my future.
He walks with confidence. He knows where he's going and what he's gonna buy when he gets into the Lion. He knows how much everything costs. He's got a purpose. He ain't gonna waste family money on a scatch off but he asks me "Win anything yet."
I shrug and say "not yet. I'm still scratchin."
He says "Good luck."
He means it.
I thank him with a nod.
I get three words on the scratch off crossword....HAMMER....EYE.....MERRY. I get the Y on the last scratch.
I break even on the card.
I watch him until he disappears into the Food Lion.
He's shorter than I am which means he's short. I'm average height.
He's got grass on the bottom of his jeans. No doubt, he just mowed his lawn. Why the hell would he pay somebody else for what he can do himself.
He's retired now but he takes care of his grandchildren so his daughters can go to work. His wife is a nurse who is familiar with death.
Before entering the Lion he slips on his mask.
He's not gonna buy any beer. He makes his own. Why pay somebody else to make something that he can make himself.
He's church goin' guy. He says grace before meals. He's got a gun at home. He keeps it away from the kids. He knows it's better to have one if he needs it than to not have one if he needs it. He like to watch old time movies on TCM. His wife won't watch anything that ain't in color. He never been divorced nor any of that shit. He made a vow and he's the type who won't break a promise. His word is good come hell or high water.
I didn't have the feeling that he suspects me. I'm just another old guy that he's already forgotten by the time he's in the Lion. I'm not giving anything away. My hair is short like his if he has any. I'm not wearing a cap. He's wearing one, a red one with the intitials MAGA.
He's not the kinda guy who gives a shit if he is misunderstood. He know what's right and what's wrong. Everything is clarity and purpose. He's a stranger to me but there's very little about him that he considers strange.
He's a native. I'm the immigrant. Somehow he knows that and so do I.
I cash my ticket.
Even is good enough for me.
Yeah, my candidate is the president elect. His candidate is president.
He's living in a dream.
We don't dream when we're dead.
He's alive and so are his hopes.
He doesn't trust the media.
But what the hell, he'll wear a mask.
Ya gotta wear a mask if you're heading into the Lion.
I'm not gonna wait around for him to emerge from the store.
I've already stereotyped him.
We don't need to be friends.
I'm gonna go home. Jorge must be finished mowing my lawn now. When I get home, I'm gonna drink an ice cold Bud light. I'm gonna turn on my teevee. I'm gonna replay the Vikings versus the Bears game that I taped last night.
I still got a shot at the parley.
Maybe I should try a prayer for him and for me.
We can both use it although I'm pretty sure he's better at the prayin than I am.
I'm nuthin' to him. I'm long forgotten.
I'm gonna bring him to life.
He deserves it.