by Walt Staples -
The man picked up his pace; it wouldn’t do to be late. They would be expecting him. He sighed with relief as the door pinged to announce his arrival. Maria smiled at him as he passed her counter. “They’re upstairs with the ladies.”
He flashed her a three-toothed smile and nodded. The escalator bore him up to the Knitting Room. Corinne greeted his entrance by singing out, “Here’s our Mr. Tegar. Your fan club awaits, sir.” The other ladies glanced up, smiled greetings, then turned their attention back to their constructions of yarn.
Tegar returned the smiles and sat down at the table. As he pulled the notebook and mechanical pencils from his shoulder bag, a large tiger tabby hopped up on the table and rubbed the side of his wrist. Tegar rewarded him with several strokes and a scritch of that magic sweet-spot cats have on their cheek. His purr dieseled. Tegar opened the note book. A smaller Siamese jumped onto his lap and curled up. He began to write. The tabby settled to watch the pencil make its progress across the paper.
It was nearing the noon hour when Tegar ceased writing. He ushered the Siamese gently to the floor and stroked the tabby once or twice. Then he stood and replaced his tools in the shoulder bag. He nodded again to the ladies and took his departure.
Once Tegar was out of earshot, Mirabel, the newest student, asked, “Corinne, who was that?”
The knitting instructor smiled. “That’s our Mr. Tegar. He comes and pets Miz Ritz and Jangles and writes each day.”
“What’s he do for a living?”
Joan spoke up, “Nothing.”
Cindy, the bubbly one, laughed. “That’s not totally true. He does work after a fashion. If you pass the intersection of Corridor Godard and Corridor Yamura when everyone is heading to the food court for lunch, you see him at work. He‘s standing there with a credit charger and a sign reading, “Alms for literacy?”
Mirabel’s jaw dropped. “He’s a beggar? But he’s so clean and quiet and nice-seeming.”
Corinne nodded. “He’s all of that.”
“But where does he live?”
Corinne reached up and ran a hand over her pink bouffant. “Well, Father Emil told me that he sleeps at St. Dymphna’s Bachelor’s Hall. And eats breakfast there. His other meals he has at Temple Beth Salem and at 1st Pentecostal.”
Mirabel squinted at her work. “Was I supposed to knit or purl on the third row? What’s he do the rest of the time?”
“I’ve seen him at the library any number of afternoons. I guess that’s where he goes,” Joan supplied.
Corinne leaned across and inspected Mirabel’s project. “Um. Purl, dear. And mornings we have him. The cats love him and he keeps them too occupied to help us with our yarn.”
Nancy, the usually quiet one, broke her silence, “What’s he write?”
There was an audible crack as Corinne lifted her right shoulder to ease a crick. “Fiction--all kinds. I’m no judge, but I think it’s rather good.”
Cindy asked sympathetically, “Shoulder playing up again, dear? Does he sell any of it?”
Corinne grinned lopsidedly, “Control panels and sudden high-G boost do not mix, ladies. I think he tried at first, but he gave up. I think his stuff is too happy.” She pulled a face and deepened her voice. “It’s not literary enough, don’t you know?” She reached over to stroke the tabby as he sauntered to that end of the table. “But you cats love him, don’t you, Jangles?”