The steps were covered with a frost. It was foggy. It made him remember sitting in church.
“What was it?” he asked himself. “Wasn’t manna from heaven like a frost?
It was a passage from Exodus, something about those that took a lot didn’t take too much, and those that took a little, didn’t take to little.
That was a long time ago. So many sermons and hymns. It definitely took hold somewhere in his mind. Maybe just because it was early in life. Maybe they know that. Maybe nothing else really sticks after about 10 years old. We’re there forever.
He made his way into the hotel bar, vacant now in the morning. Last night it was the usual kind of crowd of disconnected visitors from out of town, maybe a local at the end of the bar, and always some pal of the bartender.
He didn’t drink. He just ate and tried to go to bed early. It didn’t work. He just couldn’t get to sleep. A waitress approached.
“Coffee please,” he said. “And you mind if we meet here. We won’t be long.”
“Sure,” she said. “You’re waiting for someone?”
“Yes,” he said.
“It’s been awhile since you’ve been here,” she said.
“I know,” he replied. “Lucky I made it with all this fog.”
Weather talk. What people do when they can’t think of what to say. He wondered why anyone remembered him, and wished they didn’t.
The man spotted him from the front and walked toward his table in front of the big windows overlooking the pool and the lake in the distance, the latter totally obscured by fog.
They were dressed about the same, blazers and ties with over coats.
He slumped down in the chair.
“Coffee?” he asked the new arrival.
“I can’t” he said holding up his hand. “Maybe next time.”
“Ok,” he said, and reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys.
“Thanks,” said the other man. He reached in and dropped an envelope on the table. “Count it?”
“I’ll count it on the way home,” he said.
“Fine,” he said, “it’s all there.” He looked a little stunned for a minute. “How are you getting home.”
“You don’t worry about that,” he said.
Just then the waitress brought his coffee in a thick white mug with a little tray of sugar and cream in little containers. When he was a kid he’d peel off those lids and drink the cream.
The other man stood up.
“See you around then,” he said somewhat hopefully.
When the coast was clear, he peeled off the lid and drank one of the little containers of cream.
“Those that have much shouldn’t have too much, and those that have little, shouldn’t have too little,” he thought to himself. What made him think of that now?
The fog was lifting enough that he could see the bridge through the window. He had a long day ahead of him.