I join him, pulling off to the side with a hearty, Hi you!
Hey stranger, how ya been?
I'm doing well, how are you?
Good. Good. I might get my license back this month.
Alright, that's great! It would be a long winter without one.
Well, I do make it to the casino sometimes because there's a bus. I figure it's the least I can do. I mean, we stole their land and their buffalo, so now I give them my money.
He smiles wider and his eyes do that bright and twinkly thing. A thing they didn't do when I first met him, the first night he joined my chemical dependency treatment group. When he sat down next to me looking so defeated and lost.
There's a moment's pause and then he softly asks, you still doin' okay?
Yes, I am. I'm doing fine. How about you?
He answers with a big yes and he adds that he hasn't had a drink and he looks really happy.
Good, friend. Good.
We finished our treatment program around the same time and even though we all said we'd keep in touch that's never easy. I'm sure most of us knew this would be the only way we'd meet again. Bumping into each other in our small town world, connecting and being brought back while we go forward. We know what we know about each other, the hard truths only said in circles with fellows. And so our souls bend near and touch and whisper while we stand and twinkle near the frozen foods. There is a knowing. One that brings a thirty-something wife and mom to hearty laughter with her friend, the man with the huge belt buckle and tight wranglers in his seventies, with cowboy boots and a cart full of meat.
A man I would have passed right by if this were eight months ago, not knowing or caring, while I rushed and fussed so I could just get home to wine.
It is not eight months ago and now I'm here with no wine and I call this fine sir my friend, while I hope that his eyes always hold that twinkle.