Plated Properly

I’ve seen Oliver around town, mostly sitting outside of the art studio which was pointed out to me as being his. He sits in a wicker chair and always crosses his legs, leaning forward at times to lure in any stray feline walking by long enough to stroke from head to tail once or twice before they scamper off. The cats here all friendly enough and actually respond to the smooches and snickers we mindlessly make towards most.

He’s recently adopted a puppy, black with white paws all around, and the last time I saw him was yesterday evening, tossing the tin dog bowl down the street so that it echoed down the alleys, allowing the pup to pick it up for as long as it could wedge the hard metal between his teeth with the leash he simultaneously gnawed at.

He wears any number of button-down shirts, with only the second button secured, revealing his thin frame beneath when he strides and the wind catches a corner. His glasses usually rest nestled his graying hair, but today they’ve slid down the bridge of his nose and from the front appear slightly askew.

JB and I are sitting outside the only Moroccan restaurant in town (by restaurant I mean window, and by window I mean I think I’m actually waiting in someone’s front yard), and Oliver just pulled up a plastic chair close enough to the window that he can slur his order from his seat and rest his bobble head on his arm while the owner whips him up a hearty burger and fries.

They’re delivered on a proper platter which he properly tossed aside and dumps his entire meal onto the faux wood grain table. He pitches every other french fry in every other direction on the sidewalk for the dog to fetch, and it weaves around our feet as it scavenges for scraps. Someone points to him and hushes “he’s a painter,” to which his ears perk up, but his eyes remain closed as he croaks “je m’appelle Oliver” in my general direction. JB nudges him at the shoulder, joking that he’s had a drink too many, and he quirks a smile, slapping his hands in the air towards where he thinks JB is standing, catching his hips with his fists.

He swallows the last of his meal and flings his chair aside as he stands to leave without paying. Watching as he missteps back towards the village, I imagine he’ll plant himself back in that wicker chair, crossing his legs, adjusting his glasses, and waiting for the town cats to circle back around.

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