The Veteran (part 2)

“Why don’t you write about him?” I looked at him puzzled.“You did pay attention at the meeting, didn’t you?” I smiled. “I take that as a no.” He said, as he sighed. “Long story short, the magazine is asking this little section here to find a topic and do a story on it. Upon submission and reviewing they will select the best story and publish it on the front page of the magazine.” I looked at him in disbelief.
“There is no way I missed that!” He looked even more confused.
“Oh yes you did.” He got up quickly, “Well I gotta go finish up. Meet you after?” I just nodded. I was thinking more about interviewing the man that has been sitting out front of this magazine company for the past year, and how I was going to get him to speak to me.
Five o’clock came quickly as I collected my things and headed towards the elevator. My mind felt exhausted.

The elevator doors opened, and I made my way down to the lobby and met up with Dave. He was talking, as he always did, but my attention was on the mysterious homeless man; who I saw through the glass.
“I think I’m going to take the bus home.” I said not taking my eyes off the veteran.
“Sure. Just be careful. Call me, text me, anything.” He said, and kissed me on my cheek. We both exited the building, but he got into his car. I, on the other hand, stood there awhile wondering how to approach him.

“Hey lady!” I heard someone shout. I turned to see the veteran waving the scarf I had embarrassingly gave him, “You forgot your scarf!” He yelled to me. I walked up to him; my eyes following the scarf.
“Actually it’s yours. I wanted you to have it; it’s freezing.” He retracted his hand, holding the scarf in his fist. “I was wondering, if you wanted something to eat.” I asked cautiously. He did not say a word, but rose to his feet. We walked to the nearest diner “New York Bar & Grill”, which was hidden in plain sight. The rectangular windows gave a slight reflection of the adjacent market. There were hardly any people inside. Only a few people looked up when the bell rang upon our entrance. The diner’s waitress, a blonde highlighted girl, who seemed to be in her early twenties, hesitated before asking, “Party of two?” I can tell she was curious as to who the veteran was, but by the look of her big oval brown eyes, I could tell she recognized the veteran from the corner of the building of Boroughs Daily Magazine. The diner reminded me of the 1950’s, with its red tables and chairs, black and white flooring, and shiny steel banners. The man behind the counter attended to people sitting on the stools, serving them coffee. The fry cook behind him yelling out orders that were ready to be taken. The diner smelled of eggs, bacon, and syrup. We followed the young lady and pointed to the booth near the window. He sat across from me as the waitress handed us the menu. As she placed down two glasses of water, he scanned the list of food. I, on the other hand, was thinking of questions to ask him. We stood silent as she came with fresh brewed coffee. He did not speak. He even ordered in silence; pointing to the oversize menu. I wondered if I should let him eat first, or talk while we ate. I wondered if maybe if the right thing to do was to let him open up on his own. An hour passed, which was spent eating and drinking in silence. My mind was louder and more active than this interview. The only noise made was from the fork and knife cutting through the scrambled eggs and French toast. It was six o’clock in the afternoon, the perfect time for breakfast I thought. I’ve always preferred breakfast at diners. Not sure where this “interview” was going, but I wrote it down: Breakfast during Dinner. He looked up slightly as I quickly scribbled it down. I tried to think of questions to ask him.
He took the last bite of his French toast and got up from the table. I stared at him speechless as he quickly turned to leave. I slammed the pen down onto the table

“Wai—“I said, almost desperately. The veteran turned to me and said.
“I’m sergeant Weeks.”

I stood surprised and didn’t react until he walked out of the diner into the cold evening. I got up as soon as my thoughts settled, and threw the money down onto the table. I swung open the door and walked out onto the street. I crossed and turned the corner, walking towards Boroughs Daily and looked for the veteran, but he wasn’t there. I stood in amazement on how quickly he vanished.

I walked to the bus and could feel the air get colder with every step I made. I wondered where he’d went and if he’ll be warm tonight. Within an hour the temperature dropped well below the twenties. I got off the bus and crossed the street walking to my apartment building. The building seemed luxurious as I stared at the lighted walkway that led to the entrance door. I felt grateful for having a warm place to bathe and sleep. I thought to myself of how many homeless people were in the city alone. Where do they all stay on nights like this? I walked into the lobby with the cream tiled floor and entered the elevator. I was startled by the sudden ringing and vibration of my phone.


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