Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sketch For A Story

His nickname was Bird. I guess they called him that because there was something graceful about him when he was working. Maybe it had something to do with the way he swooped in quietly to clear someone’s plate or fill a wine glass. I never knew the real reason. He didn’t talk much, but when he did, he’d turn his head and speak over his shoulder, like someone about to take a hit. In a conversation, he knew how to appear as though he was listening: direct eye contact, chin up, head tilted, but it was hard to tell if he really was. Something was missing.

He had studied to be a priest but for some reason had dropped out. Some people said it was because he met a girl he wanted to marry and though nothing ever came of that, I liked imagining that it could have. It was also said that he played tennis, that he could have been a champion. But now he was a full-time busboy. He worked at one restaurant during the day from 6 to 4 and then he drove down the road in his undershirt, black pants and slip-proof shoes to the place where we worked with him from 5 to 12. When he arrived he’d carry in a clean white shirt on a hanger.

“Bird!” some of us would say without looking up. He’d shuffle past, nodding, staring straight ahead and half-smiling. He was 42. This was November 2001, four months after I'd had a baby, three months after my husband left me, and two months after 9/11...

The night Bird snapped and punched a rude customer in the face, we all went home feeling a little better about the world. We had our faith restored. And that is no small thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment