These nights, in the courtyard of the one good restaurant, friends come by and pass through the gates: the mathematician, the philosopher, a new math professor, a writer. Hummus, pita bread, pate, heirloom beet and goat cheese salad, tomatoes and basil and milky white mozzarella. The waitress is a teacher and wears bright blue beads.
Can you do me a favor? the bartender asks. Can you sit with me awhile until your friend gets here?
I can’t hope to guess at anyone’s life, what he wanted to tell me, what you hold in your heart. But I want to. I want to know. I want to help. I want to tell the stories of people who will never read them, people left behind when I left town, went to school, never came back.
I want to come back. Trust me with your stories, with your heart. Trust me.
Is your ending going to be happy? Everyone wants to know. I don’t know. No. And yes. I think it is happy, though it is not finished. Even when it is finished, it will not be finished, not in the resolved sense. But I think it is all right. I think, were the story to continue, she would be fine, my girl. I will be too.
I said that I would. I pulled up a barstool and swung my tan legs, and he wiped off the counter and turned over a glass. I sat with him.