It was a warm summer evening and I decided, as the narrowness of the small apartment pressed my mind, to go to the nearby park.
As always, I had my notebook with me as a reminder. Because I tried as a writer, but unfortunately with moderate success. From time to time the city newspaper published poems and aphorisms of mine. My greatest achievement was a short story in which I tried to portray Death as a good friend, mercifully curtailing the suffering of a young child. Although some of my letters have praised my story, when I read it again after some time, I found it quite maudlin.
My livelihood I denied, since my literary experiments brought little, as a language teacher for Russian at the community college.
The benches were only moderately occupied. As always, I looked for a place from which I could overlook the park. But there was nothing that caught my attention. I was about to rise when I noticed a man on the bench diagonally opposite. He may have been sitting there for a long time. He was tall and dressed in a long and black coat. The dark hat and the sharp-cut face gave the impression of a fine distance. His eyes wandered calmly and attentively from one place to the other and also touched me.
And it was as if I had seen this face, this figure, once before, no, several times. But I could nowhere classify the apparition, a word that only later became meaningful to me. For some time I sat indecisively in my place, but then, as in most cases, won the curiosity. I got up and went to the man. He had turned his head to me and the severe face was relaxed by a barely noticeable smile. I bowed briefly, feeling it was appropriate, introduced myself and asked if I could sit down with him. His head tilted slightly and a delicate hand gave way to my wish. He did not name his name; nor did he rise, as if he did not want to raise any suspicion. For a moment he looked at me searchingly, before his eyes turned back to the park. Now I sat here, but I did not know how to behave and I regretted my premature and searched desperately for a way out. Because I could not ask anyone to talk to me. But I just found myself uplifting and walking away feeling naughty and ridiculous.
I wanted to reach for the last straw, the weather, when the stranger, as if to help with my embarrassment, intervened: “They wanted to talk about the weather, yes, I, too, love the end of summer days and cool take the weary wanderer of the burden of the day. “
I stared at him in amazement, wondering at what he thought were lofty words worthy of a poet.
“That’s right,” I agreed. “If I could not have said it with such poetic words.”
He smiled fine. “You should not be so modest, by the way, I think her poems are excellent.”
I was amazed and flattered. The city I lived in was not big and I thought I knew almost every person here. I could not imagine that my poems were known beyond the borders of this place.
“You are very gracious,” I could only note.
For a moment we were silent, until, hoping to satisfy my still-present curiosity, I spoke again: “Perhaps you are surprised that I asked permission to sit next to you, but I think no ‘I’m sure I’ve seen you before, so I wanted to talk to you.’
He looked at me and again there was a barely recognizable smile around the corner of his mouth. “You said you’ve seen me before.” He took a little break. “Not everyone is allowed to make my acquaintance twice.”
I did not understand the phrase that seemed to me dark and mysterious. “Could you explain it to me, what you mean.”
He looked at the opposite bank, where an elderly couple sat. “They will know.” He said it as if a teacher were speaking to his disciple.
Only now did I notice the little book in his left hand, wondering that I had not noticed it before. Because it stood out white from his black coat. “Probably a reading,” I thought. And I would like to know what kind of literature it was.
As if the stranger had guessed my thoughts again, he opened it.
I pretended not to notice, but out of the corner of my eye I glanced at the book for a moment. The two open pages received only names. I could see that they were neatly and neatly written down by hand. The mysterious stranger looked again at the elderly couple, who made preparations to rise. From the pocket of his coat he took a pencil and I saw him making a sign next to a name. At the same moment the man who had already risen fell to the ground. The woman stood helpless for a moment and then knelt beside him. She seemed to be talking to him. Then she raised her head and started screaming for help. I too had jumped up and hurried over.
The man lay there and did not move. Some other people had also joined and someone leaned over the figure lying on the floor. Only now I thought of my cell phone and dialed the number of the hospital.
I looked over at the bench. The stranger was gone. As I looked toward the exit of the park, I saw a tall and dark figure, who turned and raised his hand in greeting. A shiver seized mine and unrest filled my heart.