The indian

Five feet eight inches, 260lbs, he’s a Cheyenne man leaning on the bar at the coffee shop every morning. He looks over at me, then looks away, goes back to leaning, drinking coffee, hassling the cute 19yo barista.

He looks back over at me, and makes an offhand comment. His voice rumbles and stirs at the lower end of human hearing. I get up and lean on the low radiator. I haven’t talked to him before.

“Good morningâ€? he says.

He chuckles again, and the sound reverberates through my chest cavity. He tells me stories of nuns, of then-two-way now-one-way streets, of the bar that was across the gulch and the bar that was on the corner and the bar that was down the gulch and the bar that was down and across the gulch, chuckles slowly at the funny parts.

He stops, and looks at me seriously.

“What are you going to do when you leave town?â€? (It’s a foregone conclusion that I’m going to leave town, to him.) “Be a teacher? Or be a bum?â€? To him, teachers are useful people. If you’re not teaching, you’re a bum.

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