It’s three dollar pizza and salad night, which means that it’s definitely on my to do list for the evening. It’s a long walk, and the pizza would be ready in fifteen minutes. Which really meant fifteen minutes. They are extremely timely, which is one of the reasons I do so much business with them.
I exit the door of the building and get onto Connecticut Avenue. I make a left. I don’t know if it’s north or south. To be honest, I’ve never been that good with the cardinal directions. It’s just not something that I’ve been able to learn.
I walk for a few blocks, saying hello to the other walkers. The snow has melted mostly, save for a few stragglers in the shadows of buildings. It is a beautiful night, although some would call it cold.
I see a young woman with a flashlight, walking very slowly. I stop to ask what she’s looking for.
“It’s my ring,” she says, barely audible. I nod. “I’ve had that nightmare too. I’ll keep an eye out for it.”
She ignores me as I take out a small LED flashlight. It’s one of the keychain bits that I’ve added over the years. It’s bright and as I walk another block, I aim it downwards every now and again.
I pass the liquor store and say hello to the proprietors, outside for a smoke. I cut across Nebraska and give some lovers a courtesy cough as I come up behind them. The woman startled as I pass and the man laughs good naturedly. In general, it’s hard for people to notice me unless I really try. It’s just something I’ve grown accustomed to over the years. I tip my top hat and wish them both a good evening. Dinner awaits.
It’s one of those locally sourced, feel good sort of place. The interior is minimalist clean white walls and a menu along one wall. The cashier looks up and asks for my name. I give it to him. He looks at me slightly puzzled but says nothing. My order is ready and I swipe my debit card. By the time I leave, he’s forgotten about me, just another Tuesday night customer.
The walk back is uneventful but it is when I see the young woman again that I realize that we have business to take care of. My suitcase is next to her. It is a battered boxy silver thing with a black handle and battered metal sides. It is the weathering that makes it unmistakably mine. It appears, as per our agreement, whenever I need it.
She is on the sidewalk, on the verge of tears. I sit down, set the suitcase in front of her and open it.
Inside is a simple unadorned silver ring on a fine chain. The clasp is broken, weakened by the daily wearing. I smile. “Ah, that’s how you lost it.”
I take her hand, pick up the chain and the ring and drop it into her upturned palm. I close the suitcase and start to stand.
“It’s a good thing it was dark. When you shined that flashlight into the grass, you saw it shining back in the darkness.”
“Yes, it was.” Her voice wavers, as if she is about to ask a question.
“Your grandmother was a wonderful woman and you were both lucky to have had the time together that you had.”
She starts to stand and I help her up. She’s no longer crying. As usual, my suitcase is already gone. “Thank you,” she says. “Thank you so much.”
I smile and pick up the plastic bag with the pizza and the salad. “Don’t worry about it,” I tell her, but she already has.
The pizza and the salad are delicious, as usual.