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on the block

“Hey Stranger,” is what my neighbor, the ex-fireman, calls out when I walk by, but it’s been years since we were strangers. I know about the fall that busted his leg, and the pins in his knee that need replacing. I know where he grew up, and that his brother lives across the river. I’ve admired the hot red Lincoln that he stores for the winter and I helped him out of his plain black sedan once, when his knee was in pain. I know he ran track in high school, cross-country. He chides me on warm days when he doesn’t see me in running clothes, and he cautions me to stretch when I arrive home in a sweat.

I told him today that I’m moving. Not far, still in the neighborhood, he said. He shook my hand after all these years and said, “good luck to you.”

“I’ll walk by and see you sometimes,” I told him. It’s something you say to someone you might easily never see again, and I’m not even sure which house is his if I wanted to ring the bell. This is street intimacy, that’s all, I realized, and in a single handshake, I saw the boundaries crystallize. They are tricky, transparent. Like glass, they are solid all the same.


Tags: men

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