by the bodega

There’s a young woman, she’s small and her clothes are smaller. Her face is shadowed by a stiff trucker’s hat. Beside her is a beanpole of a man rocking a baby carriage back and forth. He’s older, and just shy of homely. “Excuse me,” the man says, as he points a finger back and forth between him and the girl. “If you saw the two of us together, would you think we made a fine couple?” The girl is giggling, hiding her face further under the hat.

“You’re both beautiful,” I say.

“See,” he says to the girl, and then turns back to me. “She don’t want to be with me. What’s that about?”

“I guess that’s her problem, right?” I say, catching the girl’s eye so that we are in on the joke together.

I walk on by and the man calls out after me. I look back and there he is, all gangly with a silly grin and a big thumbs-up.

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