It was a crisp morning with a light fog that hugged the ground across the rolling grass fields of the park. Large oak trees and shrubs broke through the wisps of fog-like eerie figures hiding within translucent shrouds. A man dressed elegantly in a dark suit, tie, and a mid-length notched lapel black jacket. Dark leather gloves covered his hands to keep the bite of the brisk air. On his head, he wore a dark bowler hat and his face was a pale white. Fringes of dark black hair curled out from beneath the bowler. His nose from a profile view was slightly pointy while his face was finely sculpted and narrow. He had the appearance of importance. He sat on a park bench along a walking path, observing the scenery around him.
He reached over next to him and picked up a fancy black stick cane with an engraved silver pommeled handle. The clothing and cane brought to mind that of an English gentleman from the 19th century. He picked the cane up and set it out in front of him between his legs and rested both gloved hands atop the pommel after smoothing his thin pencil-thin mustache with the forefinger and thumb of his left hand. He had observed an elderly gentleman shuffling down the path towards him and could see the man was looking to take a break from his stroll.
The older gentleman was dressed casually in a sport coat and a grey derby was smartly pulled over his snow-white hair bristling out from under the hat. He wore checkered slacks along with some walking sneakers. Though clashingly dressed it was doubtful the man apparently did not care because he was out for a walk or had reached an age of life that such particulars did not concern him.
As he got closer his facial features came into view. He was white with skin blotches and wrinkles about the face. His eyes had droopy bags that were stained a yellowish color along with his bushy eyebrows. An apparent long-time cigar smoker. The older man’s eyes were glossy but still had a stern and fiery look that was a reddish-brown color.
The older man lifted his wrinkly liver-spotted right hand in a gentle but strong wave as he approached the seated well-dressed man. The well-dressed man lifted his left hand from his cane to his bowler and tipped it in a nodding manner.
“Good day to you John, and how is your morning walk doing for you?” the well-dressed man greeted as he finished placing the bowler squarely upon his head and motioning with his hand to the empty bench next to him inviting the elderly gentleman to have a seat.
“Ohh. Thank you. I don’t mind if I do take a seat for a few moments. A bit chilly out this morning but such a nice fog. I like walking in it.” the older man replied. He moaned a bit while sitting down just to the right of the well-dressed man.
“Haa, you called me John? Have we met before? I don’t seem to recognize you though my memory sure isn’t what it once was.” the old fellow admitted to the well-dressed man. He began digging into his inner coat pocket.
“A lucky guess I would wager my friend. You just looked like a John to me as you approached. A game I like to play, seeing if I can guess a person’s name before they tell me. But don’t let me be rude. Myself, I am Samael and it’s a pleasure to meet you John though it seems I have known you for a long time.” replied Samael replied in a polite tone.
“Just as now I do believe you are taking out a Honduran cigar from your coat pocket.” Samael quipped. He then brought out a match from the pocket of his long coat and struck it against the bench, letting his cane lie against the handrail so that he may use that hand to cover the match as he held it over toward John as he was placing the cigar into his mouth.
“Very perceptive man you are Samael, was it?” Samael nodded with the match up to the cigar. John puffed on the cigar and got a good cherry going then coughed a bit rapidly. “Yes sir, a Punch cigar. Honduran though the company is of Cuban origin.” John uttered as he coughed some more.
“Careful good fellow, those things can be the death of you.” Samael said smugly while waving the match out in his hand then dropping the match remains to the ground.
“Ahh..maybe but not that, it’s the cold. I like to walk in the morning time particularly when the fog is like this. This winter just doesn’t give way does she Sam? Can I call you Sam?”
“But of course my good fellow but I fear it’s more than the cold. Well, the winter is in subsidence. Just look about at the onset of a vernal landscape. Notice the oaks and various shrubberies? They have small buds beginning to appear on the tips of their branches. And look over there in the grass there are two robbins hopping around, searching for a meal.” Sam said as he used his cane to point toward the trees and birds.
“Why yes, Sam you are right. It is on the margins of spring, right? Let’s see I went to my doctor yesterday that was March…” John went into a bout of coughing and gagging before calming back down after a few moments. Sam looked over at him as if in care but his eyes were darker than coal.
John started straightening back up “I’m sorry…I’m sorry about that, been having this darned cough.” He said then put the cigar back into his mouth. He sat a few seconds silently as Sam gazed at him with black concerned eyes. Then John got a slight grin “It’s nice. Yes, early spring. Hear that? That’s a bluebird singing. One of the first signs of spring the old-timers used to say. Haha, oldtimers! Listen to me rant as if I’m a young buck. Ha! Now you sir, you look young and fit as a fiddle. Very nicely dressed as well. Enjoy your time young man and don’t look so sinister.” John orated turning his face toward Sam with the cigar hanging from his mouth noticing Sam’s dark appearance and eyes.
Sam gave a warming smile “Springtime, the very beginnings of it the signs are all around us. Perfect to reflect on time, new beginnings, and passing of old. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind me accompanying you on a little walk through the park and we can spot out those signs of spring and things of change as we go. As soon as you are done with your cigar of course.”
John took another puff gave a little hack blowing out the aromatic smoke cloud. “That would be nice I think. Have some company for a minute. My wife used to join me but she’s been gone five years now. My friend Charlie, lost him last year. Now it’s just me, but hey don’t take an old man too far. I usually just go down to the next bench by the pond. There’s a bench there just before the bridge. Used to go over it and on for the whole park loop, but now I’m all pooped out by the time I reach the bridge. You ever been there?”
“I have a few times John, there are some nice little grasses along the way and we are sure to see some springtime fowl nearer the pond. Shall we go?”
John took another puff off of his Punch and pulled a cigar case from his inner pocket. He dashed off the firey tip and placed the remnants into his case then returned it to his inner pocket.
“Ready as I will ever be I guess, Sam. Sam that’s right isn’t it? Yes, yes of course it is. Come now let’s go, an old feller like me ain’t got much longer. Funny it seems like I’ve known you a long time as well.” John started to rise but Samael had beaten him to the stand and offered him his right arm as a support lift. They both faced in the direction of the pond that was some 200 yards into the distance ahead. The fog had lifted and mostly burned off from the lower grasses. Only the pond still appeared to be covered in the fog.
Samael was on the left of John and held his cane in his left hand. They walked at a slow pace shoulder to shoulder. They were quiet for a couple of minutes and just walked, feeling a light breeze in the air along with the chirping of birds and the scramble of squirrels in the trees. There were no other people visible in the park and John took notice of this.
“Strange, usually every time I walk out here there are others out and about. Mostly joggers, a couple of women speed walking, or other old fellas like me. Hugh, today there doesn’t seem to be anyone.” John commented.
“Perhaps you are just seeing things in a different way, John. Maybe you even have new eyes. Take a look there.” Samael pointed with his cane just off to the right front of John.
John began to look “You sure say some strange things there Sam. It’s ok though I kind of enjoy it. Wait, hold on. Wow! Would you look there?” John exclaimed as he looked in the direction Samael was pointing.
In the short grass next to the path were the blooms of several violet flowers with yellow pistels creating a dramatic contrast to the partially green grass underneath. “I do think those are crocus flowers. They were one of my wife’s favorite flowers. Geeze, they seem so brilliant. I saw them last spring and they didn’t seem this colorful.” John exclaimed.
Samael looked over putting his right hand upon John’s shoulder, “Why yes they are beautiful.” he said while patting John on his shoulder. John looked over at him and noticed that Sam’s face was more in focus. He could make out the fine lines of his cheeks, chin, and sharp nose. His eyes were still dark as night but didn’t seem so foreboding but gave a feeling of warmth and easiness. He glanced down the path and he could make out the pond ahead, lower down than where they were standing. The water was still covered in a fog and he could just make out the beginning of the walk bridge that the walking path went over the water on. There was the next bench and he felt like he wanted to make it there and rest.
“Let’s continue. I feel like getting up to that bench.”
“Sure thing friend. It looks like a nice place to rest.” replied Samael. They both began their way toward the next bench.
“So what do you do and where are you from Sam?”
“Oh, you may say that I work in horology. Where I am from, well that would depend on when. I am a vagabond of sorts. The universe is my home and the world is my backyard.” Samael replied with a suave smile.
“Horology? Isn’t that something to do with time?”
“Yes, it is the study of time or the making of timepieces. I sort of like dabbling in both. I love tinkering with old-time pieces as a hobby.” said Samael.
“Your answers are somewhat informative and somewhat vague. I believe there is a lot more to you than you are telling me. Perhaps we’ll meet again and we can get to know one enough more.”
“Oh, I am sure we will understand one another plenty by the end of our walk John. Look we are almost there to the bench. Care for a seat maybe a puff on the cigar for a moment?”
“That sounds good, I’m feeling pretty tired.” They had reached the bench that was at the edge of the bridge that crossed over the pond. The pond was hardly visible due to the dense fog that had settled above the water. The bridge disappeared into the mists some 20 feet beyond the start of it. John lowered his self onto the bench achingly. Samael offered him his forearm so that he could steady himself as he sat. Then Samael followed suit and sat next to him.
“Whew, that really put the wear on me there Sam. Geez, that fog is thick over the pond. Looks mystical in a way, even inviting somehow.” noted John.
There was the sound of splashing water near the edge of the pond followed by the honk of a couple of geese that broke the mist at the edge of the water near the bridge.
“Another sign of spring, a pair of geese on their migration route stopping by to give a visit, John.” Both Samael and John looked towards the geese as they came up out of the water honking and flapping onto the grassy shore.
John started to smile and feel much more energetic. He began to reach for his cigar case when he noticed a blurry figure within the midst in the direction of the bridge. The figure was currently unintelligible due to the fog and it appeared to be floating within the mist. It must be walking on the bridge within the fog John thought. He began to see the figure was definitely female and was wearing a flowing dress that waved all about her as if she were suspended underwater. John started to have very strong emotional feelings.
“It can’t be. Can it?” John questioned as he started to get teary-eyed.
“I do believe that it can John. After all it is spring and time for new beginnings. Especially for you John, it is your time now.” Samael responded. The aurora of Samael began to turn dark and John felt cold emanating from him. He turned briefly to look at Samael and saw a figure draped in darkness. He was vailed in robes with a face no longer visible but instead burning red eyes piercing within in hooded darkness. The figure lifted a boney hand covered in gray leathery flesh and pointed toward the bridge.
John looked back toward the bridge. The angelic figure that was floating across was now standing at the edge of the bridge just out of the mist.
“It is her.” John suddenly felt overjoyed and no longer even noticed what had become of Samael. “Julia! My god, so beautiful.” John shot up on his feet tears flowing down his cheeks. “My beloved wife.”
He saw the woman stretch out her arms toward him. He started walking towards her. At first, he felt the aches of his old age but that quickly passed and he started walking faster feeling younger. Soon, he was nearly sprinting toward her. Within moments he was within her arms. Her face was young and with a glowing smile. He kissed her as he had done the first time he had kissed her as a young man while embracing her in his arms.
“It’s time to go John.” Julia said as she looked into his eyes. She took him by the hand and as she did John looked down noticing that his hand no longer had liver spots but the flesh was young, tight, and nearly glowing. He stood beside her hand in hand and they walked into the fog across the bridge becoming one with the mist.
At 10:30 am on a very early spring morning, a young couple jogging the park trail came across an old gentleman slumped over on a park bench next to the bridge that crossed the pond. Concerned, they stopped to check on him and found him unresponsive. Even though he had passed away they were taken by the look on his face. He had the look of a very happy man.