The Man in Black

Yesterday, as I stood in the drizzle waiting for a bus, an old man approached me. He was using a walker and puffing away on a cigarette.

“You like cigarette?” he asked me. He had a thick accent that sounded Eastern European.

“No, thank you,” I said. He nodded knowingly.

“You do not look like a smoking person.”

“Um, thank you.”

At this point, I began looking expectantly off in the direction the bus would come from. I wish I was one of those cool people who loved to make conversation with strangers, but I’m not. It makes me nervous, and I can’t quite shake that childhood adage that you shouldn’t talk to strangers. Especially older men. Of course, this may well be the product of having been hit on by a lot of old men when I was in my teens. But in any case, the man at the bus stop did not take my hint.

“In Hungary, we have stories,” he said.

My ears perked up a little. I’m a sucker for a story, especially of the Eastern European variety.

“How do you call… a man in black, with a tie,” he said, or rather, I thought he said.

“Um, a business man?”

“No, no, he carries scythe and wears black robe and comes for everyone.”

“Oh, a scythe. You mean Death?”

“Yes, death. One day there was a man who said that Death would never come for him, but one night there was a knock on his door…”

He then went on to tell me a folktale of the man-bargains-to-escape-Death type. At the bus stop, in the rain.

I guess I look like a girl who wants a folktale, but not a cigarette.

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12 thoughts on “The Man in Black

    • Um, it’s actually kind of embarrassing, but I couldn’t really understand the details of the story because of his accent and difficulty with the English language. I only understood enough to recognize the tale type – a man claims that Death will never find him, one day Death comes to his door, he employs some kind of trickery which seemed to involve someone else who was sick, etc. It somehow transitioned into a less than folkloric story about the teller’s medical problems, but I thought I’d leave that un-poetic touch out of the story! πŸ™‚

  1. You *Do* look like a girl who wants a folktale, and that’s ever so much better than being one who wants a cigarette.
    *sits next to Mer_Moon, attentively*

  2. Hahaha, well, you DO look like a girl who wants a folktale! Too bad you couldn’t understand the details . . .
    If it had been me, he would have started right in on the medical problems. People have healthcare-professional RADAR.

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