I met this old man the other day in the waiting room of the jiffy lube while our cars were being serviced and this old man had stories on top of stories to tell everyone that was willing to listen.
He started with a story about how his third ex wife had just passed away. She had a heart attack while having sex with her new husband who was about twenty years younger than she was. My initial response was to laugh, but only because I didn't know crap like that really happened in real life. But anyway, he talked and talked and finally took a break so he could go outside in the rain and light up his stinky cigar.
Me being the nosey person that I am was intrigued by the way he stood in the rain, oblivious to getting wet with a look on his face that was a clear indication that he had plenty more to say, but at the same time could care less if we heard his stories or not. So of course I went outside too, and stood beside him on the other side of the parking lot, not too close that he'd be suspicious, but not too far that he'd think I was afraid.
I never said a word but he knew why I was there. He knew I was eager to hear more.
"You don't care about getting wet?" he asked me.
"It's just water" I answered. Oh but I cared, I was soaked already but if this old man was cool enough to stand there unflinched, then so was I.
"You got any brothers or sisters?" he asked me.
"Yeah, a couple."
"I had a brother. He was born August 3rd 1951."
"Had?" Yeah that's right I ask the tough questions, they taught us that in journalism 101.
He held out his hand, palm up toward the sky and after it had been sufficiently drenched by the downpour, he took his cigar and stamped it out right there in his hand. I looked back towards the waiting room and the garage to see if anybody else had seen what I just saw. This crazy old man was.....
So he went on to tell me how he had an older brother who was killed back when they were teenagers. And no, I didn't ask him how he was killed, but he told me anyway.
"I ran with this bunch of guys who stole cars for fun. We'd steal 'em, drive 'em around for a couple days and then ditch 'em. I was about 16 then and and my brother was 17. We were so much alike in some ways but mostly we were different. He went to school everyday, got good grades, went to church with momma every Sunday, even helped her cook dinner and had a part time job. Me on the other hand, I did everything a teenager ain't supposed to do, everything my mother told me not to. By the time I was 16 I had been in and out of juvenile detention centers three times.
So, one night I was in a big argument with my mother about the friends I kept. You know how that goes, so after about thirty minutes of it, I told her I didn't need a mother and if she didn't want me there then I'd leave. She didn't, so I did.
I went down to Cohega park where we all hung out and took out my anger on a couple joints and a big ass bottle of malt liquor. Then out of nowhere somebody was grabbing me by the back of my shirt and dragging me away from my friends. I pulled away and turned around to see that it was my brother and he was pissed. He said 'you're coming home, now'.
I told him that I was home and that he should go back to his mother since he was the one she loved anyway. And the next thing I knew he hit me, punched me right in the face. He had never done that before. I didn't even know he was that strong. He knocked me to the ground, completely killed my buzz.
All of my boys had gathered around and started looking so I had to save face. So I jumped up and swung back but I missed. He was quick too! I swung and missed again and then he hit me a second time, knocked me right back on my ass. But before I could do anything else, I heard this loud noise, sounded like thunder right in my ear and my brother fell to the ground right on top of me. By the time I rolled him over on his back, all of my boys had scattered and ran away. That's when I realized what had happened."
He stood there in the rain, still oblivious and silent. I couldn't tell if he was crying or if the rain had totally consumed his face, but I wasn't going to look too hard, this guy had just put out a cigar in the palm of his hand.
That's when the lady called my name from the waiting room doorway. I gave her the "give me a minute" finger before I turned to him and asked, "you okay man?"
He didn't answer, he just nodded. "Your car is ready" he said. So I took the hint and ran through the rain, back into the waiting room. I stood at the counter waiting for my receipt when I turned around and saw the old dude walking away down the street.
"He's leaving without his car?" I asked the jiffy lube lady.
"Oh, he doesn't have a car. He sits in here every once and a while and we let him as long as he isn't bothering the paying customers. Was he bothering you?"
I didn't know what to say. I wasn't expecting that. I said no while I watched him disappear down the street deeper into the rain. She handed me the receipt and a pen and as I went to sign it, the date at the top of the slip caught my eye.
August 3rd, 2009.