Clear blue sky with white flat bottomed clouds on the distant horizon. Wasting time until my 7:30 all clear. Don’t go early. 7:30 no sooner, no later. Enjoying the freedom of the clear summer night. Time that is mine.
Mask on, the glass doors magically part, a nod of the head to young girl on the left. Her bored eyes barely noticeable above her blue paper binding. She nods back. “Thank you for coming” her trained body language says with no sincerity.
Scanning the black asphalt for the place I left my car, seems like a long time ago that I left its sanctuary.
“Hey big man” strong voice and a stride that is quickly cutting off the space between me and my destination, instantly taking me out of my comfort zone and demanding that I make a decision. “How about helping a Vietnam Vet?
Instant recognition. I call him by his last name which hits him like a thunderbolt. His eyes widen, he seems to briefly go limp as he recognizes me and deals with his sudden grasp of the uncomfortable reality. “Not you” he says his chin touching his throat.
Wet eyes laser locked on the ground. A silent tear. I can briefly feel the power of his regret.
“Not you” barely audible this time.
“Great to see you” I am genuinely excited to see an old friend.
He stares off into the distance, possibly thinking of all that had passed since our last time together. My confusion at his lack of exuberance gradually becomes too big of a barrier to not be addressed.
“You believed in me man, I’m sorry I let you down”