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The man sits down and watches me from the couch,
He’s patient and quiet, waiting for me.
The smell of his cigarette smoke wafts my direction,
I settle down, as much as my 6-year-old mind permits,
He speaks to me in his deep, gravelly voice.
“So, I hear you’re going to be 5 this year!”
He laughs at my brief confusion. Then, I reply.
“No, Grandad! I’m gonna be 7!”
We both share a laugh and I peer over his shoulder at the table,
“Watcha doin?” “Playing the Lottery. Want to pick a number? Maybe we’ll get lucky.”
I pick one and he gets up, stretches his arms, and holds my hand as we take our walk.
We walk to the corner store, it’s so peaceful here. An occasional dog barking breaks the quiet.
After entering the small, grimy store, Grandad turns in his Lottery ticket and the clerk smiles.
“Nope, better luck next time.” Grandad chats a bit with the man as I wander the store.
After a while, he gives Grandad his pack of cigarettes and a Lottery card for tomorrow.
He looks at me and smiles. Next thing I know, Grandad and I are walking back to the house.
I’m chewing on some red licorice, making a straw out of the tube after biting the ends off.
We get back and Grandad laughs, musses my hair, and walks to the garage for a smoke . . .
Now, I’m older.
I still remember those days fondly.
On occasion, I still make my red licorice straws.