By Foster Trecost
Just Wendell, nothing more. If you used Mr, he’d tell you to save your Mr’s for someone else. He owned a coffee shop, but I never went for the coffee; I went for Wendell.
When I walked in, he said good morning, called my name. This may seem unspectacular, but considering he was blind, it was quite a curious feat. He’d been blind ever since the accident. Came to and asked how long he’d have to wear the bandage and the doctor asked what bandage. Wendell said the one on his head, the one covering his eyes.
I walked to the counter and wanted to know how he knew it was me and he said I always smelled like diapers.
I told him I could take that as an insult and he told me to take it any way I wanted.
I asked him how long he lived here and he wouldn’t say, said I may as well ask his age and he don’t tell that to nobody.
I asked how come he never left and he said he never had a reason. And that’s when he gave me something, that morsel that kept me coming in, day after day.
He said moves like that for folks like him came with a price and he’s fortunate he never had to pay it. Then he asked me if I understood.
I told him I didn’t.
He said sometimes the reasons for leaving are the price for leaving. Said if he was run out, then the reasons weren’t his, they were someone else’s, but he’d still have to pay for them. He asked me again if I understood and this time I said I did.
Then he told me something that really made sense. He said he’d got a blank check in his back pocket, said he wrote one a long time ago and hoped he never had to write another, said he’d already paid enough.
I finished my coffee and told him I had to go open up, jingled my keys and said I’d see him tomorrow.
He laughed and said that I’d see him and he’d smell me.
And that’s how it went with ol’ Wendell. All that day I thought about blank checks, but by the time night came, I’d forgot all about them.
Foster Trecost began writing in Italy and continues today from Philadelphia. Paying jobs have him occasionally working within various aspects of corporate tax, with Europe filling the gaps in between. His stories have appeared in Elimae, Metazen and Dark Sky Magazine, among other places.
Love this complex yet simple story of life and what it means and doesn’t mean.