His wife’s brother-in-law wanted to discuss going to Greece in the fall. Stan mumbled in reply before looking up from his breakfast. His large right hand crumbled the stiff linen napkin lying across his stout thighs. It plunged it into his water glass. He gently lifted it to his best friend’s face. Blood leaked from John’s nose.
“You’ve been sniffling. What happen?”
“Your sister-in-law and I were making the bed this morning. I stuffed my extra firm down pillow into the pillowcase just a little before she did. “Pillow fight!” I announce and bounce mind off her. She smiles. Then she nails me down low followed by a whack in the face. I forgot she has a buckwheat hull pillow.”
Stan’s eyebrows rise. His broad swimmer’s chest expands. His massive hand relinquishes the water soaked napkin to John. The concern on his face melts into a smile as a silent chuckle begins to shake his frame.
“To me clear,” John jokes as he daps at his nose, “my wife hit me with a bag of grain!”
Stan throws back his head and chuckles aloud. A perplexed, attentive waiter rushed to John’s side with a similar red napkin stuffed with ice. John mumbled his apologizes to all and headed to the men’s room.
Visibly upset, the owner approached Stan who’d returned to eating his breakfast. Stan’s sea green rose from his oatmeal as the trembling shadow fell across the Irish linen covering their table. The small man stood before him trying to figure out what to say.
Stan helped, by explaining that Monsier Sienna was fine and added, “His wife hit him with a bag of fagopyrum.”
That didn’t help. The man’s teary expression twisted as his brow furled and eyelids fluttered in confusion. But, an audible sigh assured Stan that the man understood that the bloody nose wasn’t the restaurant’s fault. Apparently, he worried about losing their business.
“We’ve been coming here for generations.” assured him waving away the idea as he’d seen his wife do on a thousand occasions.
That man stood beside John’s empty seat, hesitant to leave. Finally, “Generations pass, I mean time passes-”
“Not us, we’re Christians. We are going to live forever.” Stan replied with a chuckle.
His fair complexion flushed in merriment.
The little man didn’t laugh. Stan making an effort to speak gently commanded the man to sit. He mentioned that his daughters eat at the proprietor's fine establishment “all the time”, that his wife and sister-in-law ate lunch here constantly and then he himself ate more dinners here than at home.
“ Shoot! You have your best table set aside with this fancy tablecloth.”
As he spoke, Stan hefted the handsome woven red tablecloth then indicated with a sweep of his large hand the rest of the restaurant decorated in clean plain white linen. The owner smiled weakly at the big man and let his gaze fall to the table. Actually, the Irish linen on their special table had more to do with spilled red wine and beef tartar, then the special relation his family shared with the Sienna family for the last three generations.
He glanced up at Monsieur Scamander and admitted that sometimes he worried about the future. Stan’s responded with a quizzical squint of his eyes. Stan glanced around the room as though more perplexed by the abstract notion than the little man’s personal problems. The larger man mentioned that the little man’s grandfather kept the place open during the Nazi occupation. He knew the Frenchman could handle whatever minor things came up now. The little French man sat up straighter at the reference to his grandfather; the resistance fighter, and his proud family heritage. Seeing the smile on the owners face, Stan returned to his meal, then stopped with the spoon mid-air,
“It’s not a financial problem is it? We have money?’
The owner promptly replied “No.” in a hurried whisper. He almost touched Stan’s arm in an effort to stop the too public conversation, but he then thought better.
Stan waited until the small hand retreated to its rightful position, then leaned in conspiratorially. “If it is any sort of problem, anything at all, we can help. We know people.” His emphasized “know”. Stan made the word “people” sound like a curt double-entendre
“Nothing like that Monsieur Scamander. I just am reaching-” he sighed again “ retirement age.” He didn‘t know how to phrase his thoughts, so he asked for Stan‘s. “Monsieur, don‘t you ever worry about the future?”
The little man took the simple straightforward reply as a curt dismissal and scurried away. In truth, Stan never worried about the future. He had plenty of money, but he and Roxanne never really needed money. He’d never worried about the girls growing up and then turned out fine. He had no concern about his wife’s affection ever ending. He didn’t doubt that his best friend would always be at his side. If he envisioned a future for the grandchildren, it would obviously be a bright one. His prayers were the “Prayers of the Church”; he never needed anything personally. He simply had no concerns about health or aging. He recalled, distractedly, that John wanted to talk about their trip to Greece. Stan had a cousin with a barley or fagopyrum farm outside Athens. They’d stay there for the season.