He was surprised she responded. “The luxury of being at this outdoor café when people are at work and the luxury of talking to you.”
“Clever line,” she said. “Out of work like me?”
She laughed. “What did you do?”
Ben launched into a rambling account of owning a book store. The woman finally interrupted him. “Isn’t that strange—the dog and shopping bag over there?” She pointed to the church across the way where an old dog was resting by an unattended bag.
“Not strange,” he replied. “Mass will be over shortly—I’m sure the owner will claim the dog shortly.”
“Why leave a bag there?”
Ben walked over to the bag and pulled out a frying pan.He returned to the table: “Full of pans—must be a salesman’s sample.” Before sitting down he said, “I’m Ben.”
“Is that really your name?”
“The monogram on your sweater: EVS.”
“A thrift store special—like I told you, no job.”
Ben processed the possibilities: it would be nice to know more about her but she is obviously poor. He sat down. The church doors opened and a handful of people emerged, including an elegantly dressed woman who waved at them before going to the dog.
“You know her?”
“You were having fun with me?”
“Yes and I could have told you the pans were mine.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“I wanted to see how clever you really were.”
Lisa stood up and marched towards her mother, leaving Ben to ponder the last five minutes.