I exit The Purity and walk across the parking lot towards my car. An eighties-style mini-van with patches of missing blue paint whips around a line of parked cars and screeches to a halt as if to avoid hitting me. It is several feet from making actual body contact, but screeches nonetheless. Burning cigarettes dangle from the corners of the lips of both the driver and his passenger.
The passenger jumps out like he’s late for an important interview. He takes a few sprinting steps and stops in front of me. With his thumb and forefinger, he pulls the cigarette from of his mouth. His face is bright, lit by a smile of anticipation.
Perhaps he’s a fan of It Happened at Purity.
I’m on my way home from the veterinarian where I’ve learned the sad news that our dog Lucy has to have another Luxating patella surgery. I’m in no mood to sign autographs.
He’s of slight build, about my height, short blonde hair, wears a camo T-shirt, and looks vaguely familiar. He pauses and opens his mouth. Perhaps he’ll say My buddy wanted to run you over, but I told him not to.
Instead, he says, “Ma’am?”
I’m thinking here it is—he’s going to ask for money. A couple months ago, I found a dollar in The Purity parking lot. It’s in a cup holder in my car. I keep waiting for someone to ask so I can give it away. This could be the day.
“Yes?” I say.
“Have a nice day.”
This makes me smile. “Thank you. And you, too.” I start to walk past.
He takes a drag off his cigarette and with smoke exiting his nose and mouth, says, “I really like your blouse.”
My heart fills with gratitude for him. He has lightened a very dark day.