The Greek Column

 

A man wearing a backpack wheeled his bicycle into the subway train. He was tall. His black ponytail held strands of silver, but he looked like a man who had aged too quickly. The wrinkles around his eyes, and the crinkles near his mouth were not from age, though certainly age aided them. The answer to from what was etched into his skin was soon provided. As he reached the middle of the train, his wide, dark face broke into a smile. Turning to face the aisle, I saw that he was extremely, stereotypically, Greek. He stretched his arms above him, touching the ceiling, inhaled, and then, exhaling, he pushed his arms against the top of the train even more securely. He turned his head over his shoulder, resting it on his upstretched arm. “I am the inverted column!” He exclaimed to her. “I am the GREEK column.” He chuckled, his dark eyes glittered. Her face showed no emotion and she put her other headphone in and turned around to face the door. He didn’t look discouraged. He may not have even noticed. “My sublet had bedbugs.” bobbing his head in a knowing way.  “Bedbugs! I am the most cleanly man you will ever meet. And the damned pests.” His smile faded. “They ate my bicycle. My good one. Pests, though pests, know quality. A bicycle though?” He questioned himself, his eyebrows meeting quizzically. “You would not think, but they did.” He shrugged his shoulders and pursed his lips, “Apparently my blood of my body was not enough.” His eyes shifted to look out of the window. “I paid what was due, as normal. I left my damned, handmade bike, I had since I was eighteen. Best care, best quality bike you could have ever found. Infested. What is a precious possession to a damned pest?” He thrust his chin forwards. “It’s food. That’s what.” The train screeched to a stop. The doors opened hesitantly, as if resisting. The greek man curled his lip downwards. “It seems they do not like the blood of an old man.” People first swirled in and then out. Uncomfortably, people were shifting everywhere. The man nodded once, and resumed his smiling. “I took what was not already claimed by the bugs. And then I took…” He pointed his chin at the bicycle and rolled his eyes, “That.” He said disgustedly. “I have that, and the shirt on my back, and these khakis.” He peered downwards at his massive girth. “I may have once had shoes, but if I do now, I cannot see them.” The doors closed and people sighed and reshifted in their seats, or where they were standing. I quickly looked down, he was wearing a pair of gray nikes. “I have been living off the patience and kindness of friends, but it seems, as everything else when you reach a certain age, it wears too thin too quickly and too often.” I don’t know where I will travel next.” He said the word ‘travel’ as if it meant he were vacationing. “Maybe home…” He wondered, trailing off. He widened his eyes and tapped his head with each word he said, “I cannot go back.” He said deliberately.

“Ach,” he said, licking his lips, and shaking his head. “It seems, as the gray in my hair grows, my memory shrinks.” He looked up, baring his teeth, “I am old, I have reached the age where nobody mistakes you for a young man. I am an architect, but, alas, I am an old architect.” The Greek’s eyebrows jumped. “I should have been a farmer. You can be dead and still be a young farmer.” The subway train lurched and then slowed, and he remained tall, his body a column. The doors opened and hot air blasted in, mingling with the air conditioning, and created currents of air that was rich and complex, that coexisted and complimented the man’s simplicity, such as a rich ganache on a sheet cake. “This,” He said dramatically “This, my friends, is my stop.” With a flourish, he removed his hands from the ceiling. “As the greek column falls,” He muttered and as quickly as he had entered my life, he was gone.

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