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.