The Soupster makes a new friend in an usual way.
Originally published June 27, 2002
Gosh!, the Soupster smiled inwardly smiled at the sheer mass of humanity lightering off three cruise ships in the bay and flooding Our downTown.
In a perch below the O’Connell Bridge, the Soupster entertained himself watching the tourists mill around and a bunch of bridge workers doing repairs.
At last, the main disgorging of the great ships was completed. The football crowd of people that had jammed the debarkation area had all left in busses and vans and on foot. Even the bridge workers had disappeared. The scene of intense activity minutes before was now devoid of all humanity.
Save one. A lone man, older and a little stooped. He walked to the edge of the road and peered down. To the Soupster, the man looked exceedingly lost and maybe just a little confused. Fifteen slow minutes crawled by.
The Soupster rose from his perch and ambled down to the tarmac.
“Hello,” said the older man. “Are you Malcolm’s friend who was going to meet me here? Everyone left and I was worried you wouldn’t come.”
The Soupster started to tell the truth, then stopped.
“Malcolm told me not to take a bus tour, to be sure to wait for you and you would give me the extra-special tour. He said not to take a walking tour, either, because we would be walking plenty,” I’m Malcolm’s Uncle Jerontis.”
“I’m Lee,” lied the Soupster, shocked at himself. “And the grand tour is about to begin!”
The small angel on the Soupster’s shoulder had said into his ear, “What if Malcolm’s real friend shows up and is disappointed not to meet his friend’s uncle?” But the small devil on the Soupster’s other shoulder said, “Malcolm’s friend is not coming. Why not have some fun and take the man on a tour?” and, as he did occasionally, the Soupster agreed with the small devil.
So the Soupster and Uncle Jerontis took the grand tour of Our Town together. They went to the Russian Bishop’s House and the Sitka Kwaan Na’Kahidi. The Soupster borrowed a skiff for an at-sea tour of the harbors and stout fishing vessels and sleek pleasure craft. They watched a silver carver work and then a Soap maker. A girl playing a violin gave each man a peanut butter cookie from her sack lunch after Uncle Jerontis placed $5 in her opened case. He and the Soupster sat on Siginaka Way and watched the eagles floating effortlessly over the tidal flats on gusts of warm wind. They shared salmon and halibut nuggets. Jerontis turned out to be a careful shopper and even the Soupster was impressed with the gifts the older man amassed for the friends back home, including Malcolm.
“Lee, I hate to leave, but I must,” said Jerontis, as the Soupster returned him to the bridge for the lighter trip back to his ship. “When you come to Cincinnati, you must come to see me. But I suppose you’ll want to visit Malcolm as soon as you get there.” Jerontis wrote his name, address and phone number on a piece of paper.
“I have a better idea,” said the Soupster, taking the paper and relieved to be ending his ruse without being discovered. I’ll come by your place first. Then, we’ll go see Malcolm together!
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