The Man Looked too Old to Still be Working

I can’t wait to be old and do this.

By Genevieve Clovis

A few wisps of white still clung to his mostly barren scalp. His hands adorned with liver spots tremored slightly. His back hunched and his thin frame looked like it would crumple if even so much as a drop of rain landed on him.

The man looked too old to still be working and yet here he was standing behind the counter. He wore a dress shirt, a tie, and a waist coat with a fob watch in the pocket. I suppressed the urge to ask him for the time.

He took very slow breaths and I worried that somehow each one would be his last. His eyes were distant and unfocused, one of them bearing the telltale cloud of cataracts.

I cleared my throat gently not wanting to startle him, but starting to worry he’d fallen asleep with his eyes open. A few more of his slow breaths passed. His eyes suddenly flicked and fixed on mine and a wide smile spread across his face. I jumped startled by the movement and at how his eyes sparkled with life and mischief. I barley suppressed a yelp, coughing to cover it.

His grin broadened as he came around the counter with a spring in his step.

“Carroll! Of course we have Carroll.” He cried in a strong healthy voice.

He ushered me around the shop skirting haphazardly piled books. A ladder leaned against one of the shelves and the old bugger was up it in an instant. He grabbed a thick old tome and handed it to me smiling gleefully.

“Had you going, didn’t I?” He asked with a wink as he headed back to the counter.