by Anne Marcotty page
I am driving to work. It’s February and a cold drizzle is alling. I pass through Durham center, pastthe tack and eed store, the Dunkin Donuts, the town green with the pre-Revolutionary War townhall, the Durham Market, the library, the pharmacy and dry cleaner, and the Mobil station. TenI’m driving through the north end o town, Route 7 on my way up to Middletown, past little vinyl-sided houses with winter-barren vegetable gardens next to old swing sets. One house has bunnies orsale; another, with a hand-painted sign or resh eggs, has a beagle barking at the trac through achain-link ence.Ten I see my guy. I see him almost every day, the same guy, walking along the same stretch o road, at the same time. I think o him as “my guy” because I am oddly comorted by his brie butregular appearance in my daily lie. I think I would notice i I hadn’t seen him or a while.He’s an old man—eighty at least—and short. His ace is a dried apple, shiny and wrinkled, withan overly large nose. He wears a red and black plaid jacket, blue work pants, and a green woolen cap with ear aps, pulled down low. He walks with a rolling gait that’s neither ast nor slow. Every day,I wave to him and he waves back with a sti little salute, just as I’ve seen him wave to some o theother route regulars.Te part o my mind that is not occupied with preparing or my morning meeting, or busy considering all things with National Public Radio, has probably wondered about him, but I havenever been aware o the wondering beore. On this day, because o the rain, he has an umbrella, andon this day, when I see him, he’s not walking. He’s standing still, looking at the pair o donkeys wholive in a pen in ront o the gray house on the hill. I see this old man standing with his umbrella inthe cold winter rain, looking at the donkeys as though they were really something worth looking at. And I begin to wonder about him.His name is Mario. Tat suddenly seems very clear to me. And he’s lived in Durham all his lie. Helived there back when it was all arms. Farms and cows and a couple o stores and a church, that’s all.“Mario,” his mother would say when he was twelve, or so, “go down the market. Ask Mr.
mario.indd 14/24/06 8:49:12 PM