A man in his mid-thirties was seated on a bench at the promenade. He was very thin but for a paunch and had a nose that was crooked and held rimless glasses on it. His eyes were set deep in their cavities and showed lack of sleep and excessive alcoholism. He wore a dark corduroy coat on trousers that looked worn out and reached only his heels on formal boots. It seemed like the pants would shrink all the way up to his calves once he got up to walk. He was staring into the distance at that part of the ocean where the waves were less aggressive.
He senses someone watching him from his right and turns towards him. He finds a man in his late twenties eying him curiously. He was tall, handsome and had a very pensive look on his face. His hands were in his coat pockets as if holding something inside them. He wore extremely long trousers whose edges fought against the dirty army boots that were on his feet. He was playing around with some change in the coat’s pocket which made a jingling sound.
‘And may I know who the stranger might be that’s staring at me?’
‘Are we strangers, now that you have already started speaking to me?’
‘Do I know you from somewhere? If not, can I get back to my work?’
‘What work? All that you have been doing is staring into space’, retorted the standing man.
‘How long have you been watching me? Who the hell are you anyway?’, answered the seated man, showing no signs of irritation.
Both men did not move from their respective positions. They looked like they were glued to their places with some human adhesive.
‘Just another victim of this society with a curious interest in others like me’
‘Nice play of words but what makes you think I am like you?’
‘Yes, you are my friend, you are. If you say you are not, then you are lying’
‘I may or may not be. How does it interest you?’, questioned the man on the bench.
‘Maybe I can help. As I said, I have interest in others like me’
‘Help? I don’t need any help. I am doing great. And I have no hatred against society or anything of that sort! If someone does really need help, it seems to be you!’
‘I have had my share of help my friend! But it simply doesn’t work that way, does it?’, said the man in the army boots.
‘How the hell would I know? I hardly understand why you are here and what you are saying! Look pal, I walked all the way down here, so that I can have some time of my own in peace! Now, if you can sod off!’
‘There’s no need to be so mean. You are always on your own. So what’s so special about this moment?’
‘Trying to be philosophical eh? What if I just walk away now? You wouldn’t have anyone to pester!’, smiled the seated man.
‘Oh yes, I wouldn’t! And that would be really sad! But you wouldn’t walk away, would you?’, smiled back the standing man.
‘Well, I came here first! You should be the one who has to walk away!’
‘Of course, I wouldn’t. Why would I do anything like that? I love standing’
The man in the glasses looks around to see if there were any benches vacant and finds none. He turns back to his man and replies, ‘Aha! Now I know why you are here! You want this bench and I seemed to look the most foolish of all the people here. So you came to shoo me away with your nonsense right?’
The standing man smiles reprovingly and replies back,’All this for a bench? Your mind works in a very funny way!’
‘Don’t say a word about my brain! I am sure you are here for the bench! Now that I know your motive, I am not going to give it away so easily. You have such an odd way of getting things! Are you always like this?’
‘I am not here for the bench! Is it so odd for two people to talk to each other? Why can’t you simply think I am here for a conversation?’
‘Conversations don’t happen out of the blue. I hardly know you. And if you are picking up talks with random people, you must either be a fag or a thief!’
‘That was really mean! I am being nice to you and this is how you talk back?’ asked the standing man who showed surprise on his face.
‘And if I ain’t going to be mean, you are going to ask me favors next. Don’t even think I am going to buy you lunch! I know your types! Talk nice and steal a wallet or beg for lunch!’, cried out the seated man in anger.
‘I am neither here to steal nor beg for lunch. All I want is to talk and help’
‘Enough! I had enough of this nonsense! Do I live everyday to be tormented by people like you? Take it! Take the damn bench! I am out of here!’. Saying this, the man got up and walked off furiously towards the street.
The standing man walked slowly towards the bench and seated himself exactly where the other man was before and started staring into the distance at that part of the ocean where the waves were less aggressive. While doing so, he twitches his ears to hear a shriek, the screeching of tires and a dull thud but doesn’t turn back to investigate.