The time: midnight-ish.
The place: my street, 2 short blocks from my building.
I turned the corner to head home, sleepiness in my eyes and urgency in my bladder, when...clomp-shhhhh, clomp-shhhh.
"Hey what's up."
"ARE YOU HEADED HOME?"
"GOOD. ME TOO," he shout-said. "NOW I HAVE SOMEONE TO WALK WITH."
So we walked. I tried to walk that slow, but I literally couldn't move at his pace without wobbling around. So I'd take a few steps, and stop and wait.
"IT'S SUCH A NICE NIGHT."
"Yes it is."
"AT NIGHT IT'S NOT AS HOT."
"No, it's much nicer."
"ARE YOU GOING TO WORK IN THE GARDEN TONIGHT?"
We have a bright street lamp in front of our building, which illuminates the entire yard. So to avoid the heat, I work on things at night, digging weeds and planting new plants and watering, etc. Since I work at night, I usually start outside by 12:30 or 1. And yes, that's a.m. time.
"I don't know," I said. "Maybe."
"YOU'RE ALWAYS OUT THERE, DIGGING AWAY," he said. And he was silent. "I LIKE YOUR NEW FLOWERS."
"Yes." I didn't tell him they were blue because I bought the wrong seeds. The flowers were supposed to be red. The blue matched...nothing.
"THEY'RE VERY PRETTY."
"Yes they are."
"DID YOU SEE THE OLD MAN TODAY?"
(Um, this is Miami Beach.) "Which one?"
"NEXT DOOR. HE SITS IN THE CHAIR."
"SOMEONE COLORED HIS HAIR," he said. "IT'S BLUE."
"HE LOOKS LIKE AN OLD LADY." And he laughed. "HE WAS WALKING AROUND IN CIRCLES IN HIS YARD. I TRIED TO SAY 'HI' BUT HE JUST SAID 'GO AWAY.'"
"That was rude."
"I DON'T THINK THE ELEVATOR GOES ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP FLOOR." He shook his head. "I THINK THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH HIM."
"AT LEAST I ADMIT WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME."
At last! I was going to finally find out... "What do you mean?"
"I HAVE PARKINSON'S."
"What is Parkinson's?"
"IT DETERIORIATES THE NERVOUS SYSTEM," he said. "AND IT MESSES WITH THE FLUID IN YOUR BRAIN."
"SO IT MAKES IT HARD FOR ME TO WALK. THERE'S NO CURE FOR IT."
"BUT I'M ON MEDICATION SO IT'S OKAY FOR NOW. I HAVE A GOOD DOCTOR."
"MY WIFE USED TO HELP ME WITH THINGS, WITH HER IT WASN'T SO BAD. BUT SHE DIED."
"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know you were married."
"I WAS." He paused. "SHE WAS A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN."
"If she married you, I bet she was," I said. "You seem to have a way with the ladies."
"I STILL HAVE SOME TRICKS."
Fifteen minutes along a three-minute walk, and we arrived at our building. "Here we are," I said, as I prepared to dart into the bathroom.
"THANK YOU FOR WALKING WITH ME."
"Sure, my pleasure."
"I'M SORRY IF I SLOWED YOU DOWN."
"That's okay," I said as I shrugged. "I need a reason to slow down once in a while."
"LOOK AT THIS GARDEN. SO BEAUTIFUL."
"It's alright, it's getting better."
"ARE YOU GOING TO WORK ON IT TONIGHT?"
"I don't know," I said. And I looked at the errant blue flowers. I still had some seeds..."Y'know, I think maybe, I will."
And he chuckled. "IT'S FUNNY," he said. "YOU'RE OUT HERE AT ONE IN THE MORNING DIGGING IN THE DIRT. AND PEOPLE THINK I'M THE ONE WHO IS CRAZY."