The following is a piece of original short fiction.  Yes, it is somewhat autobiographical.  No, I’m not a middle-aged man that no one can remember.

In the cafe, the funny little man sat with his notebook.  All around him the patrons bustled, in and out, in and out.  Less hurried than most, he sipped from a white ceramic mug identical to those found in hundreds of cafes across the world, many of which he had visited.  Many of which he had not, but that was just as well.  The story had ages left to be written, after all.

From time to time he picked up a pen from the tabletop and wrote deliberately.  The pen was a simple affair, two for three dollars in any bookstore or pharmacy.  The gravity with which he wielded it implied a storied history and grand pedigree.  It was all about presentation, after all.

The man wrote deliberately in a notebook.  Another simple affair that seemed to carry the weight of ages within its cover.  The notebook’s soft black cover and yellow pages showed the wear of travel and use.  He never seemed to run out of pages, and even coffee only seemed to add character.  A simple elastic band held it closed, pages safe against the ravages of time and people.

An airport screener once asked him what he wrote in the notebook.  He simply smiled kindly and replied, “Stories.”  Her odd look implied that anyone who wrote stories in a black notebook must be up to no good.  She opened to a random page and read for moment, quickly handing it back and watching him while he rejoined the ebb and flow of humanity.  She remembered that lonely page for years to come.

Today he sighed to himself and added a notation.  Soon it would be time to go, for the story wasn’t finished.  Another hour of sipping and writing passed, and at last he stood.  The notebook vanished into his brown leather bag.  The bag always smelled of new leather, a scent that lingered.  A handful of change and bills remained on the table, the only other evidence of his passing.

Later, the funny little man entered the metro station and boarded a train.  No one could quite recall what he looked like or what he was doing.  Here and there people recalled seeing a man and his notebook, doing nothing but observe and write.  Then again, he was everywhere, writing the story of the world.

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