The next time you’re in a public place — a coffeehouse, a park, a store — observe the people around you. Pick a person, a couple, or a group, and imagine what their lives might be like.
In every McDonald’s there is an old-timer or two who comes in, sits, and sips coffee.
‘There he is,’ I say to myself. It’s the old Marine I see in here all the time. He has the tattoos and a cap to tell the world he was or is a Marine.
His wrinkled face was healthy as if by design. His hair is silver and bright; it almost reflects the sun. His hands are stout like two sledge hammers.
He’s still large; almost one of those larger than life characters. He walks as if he’s waiting to take charge. If he heard mortar rounds there would be a parameter staked out within minutes and we’d start taking prisoners.”
He smiles and talks loudly. But I know he’s lonely. Why else would he be here everyday.
“How’s it going, today,” I said.
“Good,” he smiles. “How ’bout yourself?”
“Fine as a frog hair,” I say.
“Ya wanna sit and have a coffee together,” he says.
“Sure,” I said.
We slid in a booth opposite of each other and began sipping our coffees.
“How long has your wife been gone?” I said.
“Five years,” he said. “I’m just now getting out.”
“That’s good,” I said.
“Is it that obvious?” he said.
“As obvious as your cap and tattoos,” I said.
“Sure gets lonely,” he said.
“Would you like to talk about her or the Marines?” I said.
“How ’bout your wife?” he said.
“I come in here a time or two a week and pick us up something to take home,” I said.
“That’s nice,” he said.
“Bring her in sometime and we’ll have coffee and a sandwich together,” he said.
“I’ll do that,” I said and smiled. “But I can’t havin’ ya talk like a Marine.”
He chuckled. “Marge, never let me talk like a Marine either. She was my real commander. She had me chargin‘ up more hills than the Marine Corps could have ever made me do. You a Marine?”
“No,” I said.
“I bet you’d have made a good one,” he said.
“Nah,” I said. “Not me.”
“Why not?” he said.
“Don’t like hills,” I said. “I was Army.”
“I don’t like hills either,” he said.
“You come in here to watch the people,” I said.
“But I’m not lonely,” he gestured with his head towards the other patrons. “They’re lonely. I just come here to keep all them company.”