The picture

A man without hands came to the door to sell me a picture of my house. Except for the chrome hooks, he was an ordinary man of about fifty or so.
The picture was taken from the left wing of my house. It captured the missing piece of dingy red on the aged brick wall, the winding crack on the second-floor window, and the white lace curtain flowing in my daughter’s bedroom.
My house. The house I see everyday, yet it seemed somehow strange in the 2x8 inch picture.
I scanned the man from head to toe. My doubt overweighing my utter rudeness. He had a head of messy gray hair, like the kind you get when you wake up before combing it. A bald spot on the right of his head was visible. It was gnarly. I tried my best not to stare, instead I focused on the deep lines beneath his eyes. The wrinkles were like a mask, but it could not cover up the zigzag scar on his right cheek.
“Do you want the picture? It’s only 10 bucks.”
My outrageous gawking was interrupted by his hoarse voice. I drew my attention back to the picture which lay surprisingly flat and calm on the two metal hooks.
“But it’s my house. I know what it looks like.”
“Are you sure?” The man looked directly at me like I had told a tremendous lie. His blue eyes were so dark they almost looked black---he was dead serious.
He pointed one of his “hands” on the bald spot. The crisp clicking sound stirred waves in my stomach.
“There was a hole here. One inch. But that’s gone now.”
He waved the gigantic hooks in front of me. The picture swayed down to the ground. There was no way I could avoid looking at them now.
“I lost these, but they’re replaced by metal now, makes me feel like a robot.”
He clumsily fished out a piece of silver army metal. It was only the half of it. The edges were coal black. “Stevenson, 095, O, and C” was vaguely printed on what was left of it.
I looked at the man standing in front of me again. He seemed to be taller than a minute ago.
“I was a doctor. I set out to save the world, but I was killed by oblivion. Guess 11 years was too long for the wife and kids to continue to remember.”
I didn’t know what to say. There was nothing for me to say. He was still looking at me, dead serious and sincere.
“If a tiny amount of money can help you remember, you pay it. You do anything to remember. Remember both the good and the bad.”
I gazed down at the picture on the patio floor, reached for my wallet, and handed him ten dollars.
 






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