Starting the Summer with Mr. B

By the time I finally got to Mr. B’s front gate, it was almost too hot for the dog to bother barking at me. His sharp eyes stared out from the wrinkly mass of skin and fur that we all presumed to be his face.

Almost too hot.

“Brrufff!” he muttered, out of a sense of obligation to at least acknowledge everyone who came through the front gate.

I swung through the front door, sweat dripping down my temples, and it was only eight o’clock in the morning.

Mr. B’s kitchen is unlike any kitchen I had ever seen. Nothing matched. No two chairs were alike, and his table was deeply scarred. But everything fit together in the way that things seem to when they don’t.

I spooned four rounded spoonfuls of sugar into my cup.

Mr. B looked at me with raised eyebrows.

“You need to get some friends,” he told me that summer.

“You’re my friend,” I said.

“I’m old. And when you’re old, you’re nobody’s friend.”

Two weeks after that, they were carrying him out of his oddly-unique kitchen on a stretcher.

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