I see this man everyday, sitting on his porch. I've walked past his house a dozen times. I'd stop from time to time and make conversation. In the mornings, he'd sit there with a mug of steaming coffee. I'd see him wave to certain cars as they pasted, probably neighbors or acquaintances. He always wore a flannel shirt with jeans; simple, comfortable clothing that showed his age and gave him an air of having lived in the mountain regions. I later found out he did grow up in a mountain region. In the evenings he sat with a glass of some liquor. He'd drink beer, straight rum or vodka, or mezcal.
I moved away from that place years ago. Recently I went back and walked those familiar streets. The man was on his porch. An old collie was lying by his side. It looked up with rheumy eyes as I approached them.
I always greeted him that way. Though he never served, he had the same posture and manner of a military gent. He chuckled and raised his left hand in greeting. The collie laid his head back down on his front paws. I noticed the house needed to be painted badly. The wood of the porch had some rot spots.
"Lass. What are you doing 'round these parts? Last I heard you were up at that big University studying all kinds of gruesome things."
"We'll learn the gruesome when we get out of the theory aspects. Most of my courses are all in bloody theory. I can't wait to be out."
"A year more will go by quickly."
I nodded. He reached for a cup on the railing. He was drinking mezcal. I could smell it from where I stood. The man was not an alcoholic. At least, I didn't think so. I had only seen him with one glass a day. If he drank more when he went into the house, no one knew about it.
The silence grew a little awkward so I prepared myself to leave. I knew it was the last time I would see him. I had did what I needed to do in this place so there was no reason to come back here.
"Hold on a min."
The man got up unsteadily from his feet. He reached for a cane and walked into the house. The collie got up, also, and followed him. I was curious. He had never given me anything before. He walked back out, something small clasped in his hand.
It was a ring. It had a black onyx stone set in pewter. Two red crystals were positioned north and south of the onyx. The ring was heavy for such jewelry. It was beautiful.
"Well, put it on," he said gruffly.
It fit perfectly on my middle finger of my right hand. I tried to give it back to him. Surely he had family who would miss such a ring? He refused to take it back. I thanked him and stepped away from the porch. He waved once and sat heavily back down on his chair.
For all I know, he's still sitting there. I still have the ring. I did some research and found that it was made in England. Whenever I wear it, I think of him.