Old Man in Diner

The old man sitting across from me in the diner lifted up his porcelain dinner plate and poured the leftover, steaming-hot broth into his cup.  While he poured he muttered to himself, whispering the other half of an unheard, or perhaps imaginary conversation.  When the cup was filled, he put the empty dinner plate back on the table, then squared the cup of broth, his dinner plate, silverware, salt and pepper shakers, oregano tin, and candle perfectly one against the other.  He smoothed his hands over the table cloth repeatedly until all the wrinkles had disappeared to his satisfaction and then inspected his table.

Upon seeing that all  was now arranged in proper order he took in one deep breath, and then slouched into the corner of his booth with a rapturous exhale and raised one leg onto the bench.  He closed his eyes and, after a few short breaths, slumped forwards sleepily.

His body hung halfway towards the ground as though suspended between one second and the next.  The tinkling sounds of the nearby diners did not disturb him, nor did the passing advances of the waiter who cleaned around the old man’s neatly organized table with a wet rag.  For the next quarter of an hour the old man only breathed an inaudible, “hoo hoo, of an owl through mostly closed lips and otherwise sat still as a statue.

When he finally awoke, he lifted his glass, sipped carefully at his cooled cup of broth, and resumed his broken, muttered conversation.

Finishing, the old man stood up, put a thin, plastic rain coat on over his sweater, left a few nickles on the counter, and sauntered out into the rain on bow-legged legs.


  • 1 – Do you mean you’re shy of being drawn? 🙂
    2 – Thanks!
    3 – I totally agree, Cynthia. There was a quote I liked, the author of which I thought was Tolstoy but could not verify just now.
    “The purpose of art is to render understandable that which is inexpressible.”

    I believe in magic, though I think it’s not really what we think it is. We think of magic as a power that can make the impossible happen, but it’s only because of our limited perspective that we so call it. From our divine creator’s point of view, magic is perfectly possible, and is happening all around us, though we are unaware. When we make an effort to understand Him, we become more aware of how much of it there is happening around us. We ‘awaken’ to magic, as it were.

  • 1. I am SO glad I do not go to your Ward. lol 2. As a professionally-trained, former stage and tv actress and writer, you do an incredible job of capturing the seemingly trivial, little things that make a character come alive! Congratulations. 3. I have a slowly-growing collection of poems for children that do NOT talk down to them. In fact, I might like to use a few of the best as starting points for small chapters that explain the background/meaning if the poems, which are quite magical.

    I think finding the “magic” and joy, and also some things that are sad which adds up to “truth”, as you say, is important for children, also. It just needs to bear in mind the understanding capabilities of the age concerned. I also think we often need to re-introduce “magic” of daily life into the lives of “adults”. 🙂

  • Ha ha. Thanks Hillary:)
    I am Bryan Beus: artist, illustrator, storyteller, author, and overall day dreamer extraordinaire! (There really isn’t a name for what I do, but whatever it is, I do it professionally).
    My website is limited to only three pages currently as I’m experimenting with a program called “Rapidweaver,” the demo version of which does not have full capabilities –– hence the lack of an “About” page. I have decided that I love Rapidweaver and I will be upgrading within the next few weeks, so a few new pages will show up here once the program is unlocked.
    For the record, I do want to say that the art of storytelling to me is more than just day dreaming. To me, storytellers are truth seekers and sharers. If you’d like to hear more, I gave a lecture on it and the notes thereof can be found here: http://bryanbeus.com/blog/?p=949
    Thanks for contacting me, and good luck with finals!

  • Hillary

    So, I came here from a rather entertaining comment you left on Shannon Hale’s blog (which is odd because I don’t normally read the comments on blogs), to discover who wrote such a strange and witty anecdote (and who else can get lost in their own world so well?), only to find more wonderfully mysterious drawings and stories. Who are you, what do you do, and why doesn’t your blog explain this? And by the way, I have no idea why this matters to me. I’m currently blaming everything on finals.