Greyhaired Raggedy Man

The Greyhaired Raggedy Man

He was down on one knee staring intently at the lock on my

apartment door.

This raggedy man, locksmith, who had grilled me on the telephone about my lost keys. I was annoyed and irritated.

I came up the stairs each one drew me closer. After I reached the third-floor landing, I was breathless in the early heat wave and, sticky Texas weather.

I lit a cigarette.

I looked him over; what I could see looked good. I moved closer to him and without a second thought, I touched his hair. I let my fingers caress this total stranger’s hair.

Bells rang out in my Soul as he looked up at me with his intense grey eyes beneath wild salt and pepper hair.

After our conversation on the telephone, I was prepared to be the smart alec shrew I could be.

While he worked, cursing at the Kwikset lock, I lost all hope of dignity.

“You have such beautiful hair,” I stammered.

The heart inside my chest threatened to explode as my voice fell suddenly soft.

“ I’ll meet you back at the office, I’m the manager.”

Eventually, he drove back and gave me the bill. I cringed. It was thirty-five dollars, a small fortune to me at the time. I counted out the bills and handed them to him.

I stood up from behind my desk and walked to the door with him.

He said I could come to the shop the next day and he’d make extra keys for me.

I leaned against his raggedy man, old red station wagon, not wanting him to leave. I asked if that was included since money was tight for me. He said,” Well, you could come down to the Longbranch tonite and get some of your money back in beer. The heavyweight match is on.”

I got the student next door to babysit the boys. She told me where the saloon was in town. I dressed up cutely but not over the top. I parked out back, went inside, and found a seat behind a pillar with a floor-to-ceiling drape. He was near the front, the good seats next to the tv. I sipped my long-neck beer and watched him. He kept an eye on both doors. After about an hour, he looked at the slip of paper with my phone number and went to the payphone. I’m surprised he could not hear my heartbeat, I was sitting ten feet away. Concealed somewhat, not exhaling least my breath give me away. He shook his head and went to the bathroom.

I hurriedly grabbed my purse and slipped out.

The next day, I went to the Key shop to get more keys.

When he finished with a customer I walked to the glass counter.

“So what happened to you last night,” he almost smirked at me.

I said, “ I was there. I watched you for almost an hour. I drank a beer and left after you made that call.” He looked flabbergasted.

I stammered, “ I just didn’t want to be picked up in a bar, I felt something…”

He lit a cigarette and exhaled blowing a smoke ring and watching it float then dissipate in the air in my direction.

He finally spoke after what seemed like an eternity.

“You crazy broad! Well then, what about this :

I have a bottle of Jim Beam, why don’t I come over tonight and we’ll watch the storm come in.”

It wasn’t as much a question as a statement.

This was the beginning of the love of a lifetime. This graying, ancient, thirty-three-year-old spirit spoke to the aching poet in me He awakened my heart, and our Spirits drew close again.

On again,

off again,

for almost fifty years.

Tonight, as lightning splits open the dark sky, my heart leaps in my throat with each rumble, every jagged flash.

The burning ember,

which is my soul,


for now.


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