The Quiet Man

ImageThere was once a quiet man who walked around town every day. Occasionally people would smile and wave, but never once did he return the gesture.

He walked with his hands clasped behind his back, his white hair fluffed out at the sides and a black trilby hat on his head. He had eyes like an eagle, and an ever so slight bounce in his step.

He’d ordered the same coffee from the same brewery for so long, he’d managed to order and receive his change without saying a single word to any of the employees in over ten years. Everybody knew not to talk to the quiet man, because he had a scowl that might as well have been stitched onto his face.

He kept that look up without deviation, and managed never to speak or greet anybody for so long that even he had forgotten what his own voice sounded like.

But then one day, on the sidewalk, he noticed something that shook the very fabric of his being – It was a woman. The same age, with the same scowl, and the same downward glance as he. The quiet man turned away and fled at once.

But he saw her again, the next day. This time, he followed her for one block exactly, before stopping, then turning away. He didn’t sleep much that night, he couldn’t.

The following day, he saw her again, only this time, she noticed him. They both stopped at their respective distances, of about a quarter block apart, and stared at one another, for thirty-seconds exactly. They each turned away, and fled in opposite directions.

This went on and on for some time – weeks at first, then months, then one full year. Finally, after thirteen months and three days, they stood about five feet removed from one another, each awkwardly staring from side to side. The quiet man finally spoke.

“What… what are you doing?”

She looked back at him, squinting her eyes. “What’s it to you?”

He turned away, and walked off in the opposite direction.

“Wait,” She said from behind.

He stopped, turned around, and looked back at her. “What do you want?” He said with a sneer.

She gulped. “I want to walk with you.”

He gulped, then gulped again. Ever so slowly, his arm began to raise, and his hand shook convulsively along with it, as he feebly attempted to reach out in her direction.

She hesitantly stepped forward, then took his hand in hers. The couple walked together, and after about half a block, though they hadn’t said a single word, both had smirks on their faces, and three blocks further, full-blown smiles.

Sometimes people are strange. But sometimes strange people meet other strange people, and then they realize they’re not so strange after all.

– Thomas M. Watt

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