He told me the story about when his son had died on him for two and a half minutes. It was a peanut butter sandwich. He wasn’t even allergic to peanuts. No one knew why it happened, it just did. The ambulance had struggled to find his house in the dark of the night while the boy was near lifeless.

The man before me now had dried paint on his hands and wore a mask of wrinkles through which his earnest eyes spoke to me. I stood behind the grills of my front door. I was in the middle of chopping onions when he had arrived. Another charlatan I had assumed at first. But his calm words of conviction soon assuaged my apprehension.

He was walking around the neighborhood offering to paint glow-in-the-dark house numbers to prevent such incidents from happening again. Not wanting to live of the dole, he wanted to earn his own keep and maybe save a life or two. I gladly accepted the offer. I genuinely considered it a valuable service. However, maybe I was just paying for the story and the honesty.

I went into my room to pull some cash out of my wallet. Walking back outside I found him rolling a layer of white paint on the slanted curbside. In the midday sun we sat for a moment. He told me that his son had recovered, but not back to his full potential. He was the brightest kid he had ever met he said. My dad listened in while watering our young mango tree.

He told me about the dead aboriginal woman he found in her empty home. He told me about the time where his gated house was robbed. Ironic he thought. It was all with a hint of jest though, tragedies of the past now just pithy tales for the present. The afternoon sun gently fell on us as he pulled out a number seven stencil.

Deciding to leave him to it I shook his hand and went back to the meal I was preparing for guests. An hour later it was ready. I left it to cool and sat back on the couch with a book in my lap. I smiled to myself, waiting for the night so I could see the warm glow he had imprinted upon our home.


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