May 16, 2017
They come together every morning, rain or shine. They have been gathering for years. The coffee shop sells a plastic cup for a buck fifty and you can get endless refills for a half dollar a day. I started going down there about a year ago. Then again, I turned 65 a little over a year ago.
I sit in a corner, on purpose, I like to have my back against a wall.
I leave my phone in my truck. I do not want any distractions.
Soon, they start ambling in, one or two at a time. Red cup in hand, they stand at the counter, handing over some change in return for fresh coffee. They turn away and head for two tables. Someone has already pushed the tables together, in the middle of the room. Now six men can talk at one time.
A couple of these men I’ve known since I was in junior high school. There are a couple more I sold insurance to years ago. And, another one I tried to sell and make a customer. Another was in the Lions Club when I was just a cub.
They talk about women. No doubt about that. Woman of the past, current women and women in the future. We’re men, we talk about women. We have to.
Oh, there’s football in the late summer and throughout the fall. These men are not farmers, so there’s not a lot of talk about the weather or crops or how the prices of supplies keep going up and the harvest price keeps falling.
Politics is always fair game. We just had an election and there are both Democrats and Republicans sitting at the same table. Brookhaven isn’t big enough for the two sides to separate when it comes to early morning coffee.
One of the men told me how early morning coffee was the highlight of his day.
“My wife is an invalid. Her mind is gone. I take care of her. We’ve been married over sixty years. I stay with her twenty-two hours a day, doing for her, seeing that she is taken care of.”
I look down at my coffee.
“I hire a woman to come in every morning at eight o’clock. She bathes my wife, washes her hair, that sort of stuff. I come here. This is my escape. I need to get away for a little bit every now and then.”
About once a week, someone they know dies. It is a small town in Mississippi. We all know each other. They always talk about him or her and what they did. Damned near everyone dies too early and too young.
The stories they tell are gems. Diamonds on the table, so to speak. Heroes who walked with us, rascals who played the game, some winning, most losing. The good guys, the strong and the weak, we’ve got a town full of them.
I wish I could save those stories as easy as I save what I write.
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