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    Bill W
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

The Stranger - 1. Chapter 1

The Stranger

Copyright 2024 by billwstories

I was sitting in the coffee shop having my morning cup of Cappuccino, even though none of the others that I usually chatted with were there yet. For that reason, I was spending my time sipping my drink and looking out the large window at the front of the shop. That’s when I noticed a guy on a motorcycle pull up in front of the building, park his Harley, get off his bike, and take off his helmet.

After he placed the helmet under his left arm, he hesitated a moment before running the fingers of his right hand through the snow white hair that covered his head. He then dragged his hand over his bushy moustache and neatly trimmed beard to make sure the wind hadn’t messed them up during the ride here. As soon as he thought he looked ok, he strode toward the entrance of the coffee shop, opened the door, and walked up to the counter. I overheard him order an Espresso.

After he received his drink, he turned around and noticed that nearly all of the tables were empty, except for the couple that was sitting at a table near the back of the room. I was occupying a booth near the front, and as soon as he looked in my direction, he smiled and walked directly toward where I was sitting.

 

“Hi, I’m Carlos. Do you mind if I join you?”

“No, not at all,” I said as I offered him my hand. “My name is Bill.”

“Glad to meet you, Bill,’ he responded as we shook. “I’m taking a road trip on my motorcycle, so I hope there aren’t any bugs in my teeth.” He grinned first, so I could verify his claim, and then laughed.

“No, you look fine. If you don’t mind me asking, how far have you traveled?”

“I started out from Miami, because it was just too damn hot down there. I thought I’d take a trip up north where it might be a little cooler.”

“Then you may have to travel all to way to Maine or crossover into Canada to find cooler weather,” I responded and he laughed again.

“That would be ok, because I enjoy traveling and seeing other places.

Besides, there’s always a good breeze when I’m riding on my Harley.”

“Yes, I’m sure there is, but out of curiosity, what brings you to Athens, Georgia? It not like it’s near the Interstate or any other major routes you might travel.”

“No, it isn’t, but I like to take the roads less traveled when I start out, because I want to check out the different places I travel through. I only go on the highways when I’m in a hurry.”

“I see. So, do you go on trips like this often?”

“No, I generally ride with a group of guys that belong to the same motorcycle club that I do, but they have to work and I’m retired.”

“Well, that’s something we have in common, because I’m also retired.”

“I had a feeling that might be the case, since you’re sitting here at this time of the morning, and that’s why I came over to see if I could join you. Since I spend so much time alone when I’m on the road, whenever I stop someplace I look around for someone I can chat with.”

“I’m sure it can get fairly lonely taking a motorcycle trip by yourself, and I’m well aware of what it’s like to be lonely. I live alone and come here every morning so I can chat with the usual gang that’s here, but it appears that I’m either early or they’re late.”

“Does that mean you aren’t married?”

“I was, but my wife died a few years back.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Did it happen quickly or was she sick for a while?”

“We weren’t aware she had a problem in the beginning, because she only had a bad cough, and sometimes she would cough so hard it would make her hoarse. She went to see the doctor about it, and after examining her, he said she just had allergies and prescribed some medicine for her to take. We didn’t think much about it after that, even after she began to wheeze, because we thought it was due to the allergies as well.”

“I take it that it wasn’t allergies then.”

“No, and we didn’t realize anything was seriously wrong until she started coughing up blood. This time when she went back to the doctor, he ran some more tests and had a couple of MRIs taken of her lungs, and that’s when he discovered she had lung cancer. However, it was too late by then, because it had spread to other areas, and she died fourteen months later.”

“That must have been an extremely difficult time for both of you.”

I merely nodded, and then we sat in silence for a couple of minutes before Carlos asked another question.

“Do you follow baseball?”

At first I thought this was a strange question, but then I realized it was his attempt to distract me from thinking back about that trying time.

“Yes, in fact I do. I’m an avid Braves fan.”

“I’m a diehard Marlin’s fan, but don’t worry. I won’t hold being a Braves fan against you,” he replied, and then laughed.

We ended up talking about baseball for quite a few minutes. In fact, we talked for so long that we’d both finished our drinks before we were done.

“Would you like another one?” Carlos asked. “It’s my treat.”

“I don’t know. I’d be pretty wired if I have another cappuccino, and you probably would be too, if you have another espresso.”

“Yes, but it will help me stay awake as I’m riding on my motorcycle.”

“In that case, I’ll have another drink with you, just to make sure you stay awake.”

When he returned with our drinks, we both took a couple of sips, and then he asked another question.

“Do you follow what’s going on in the political arena?”

“Yes, I try to keep informed about what’s currently happening.”

“Then maybe you can explain this for me. What the hell is up with Congress? They seem to be totally dysfunctional.”

“And it’s not a good look for either party, especially with elections coming up in another year.

“No, it’s not, and it seems the Republicans are already picking their targets for their base to focus their hostility on.”

“Yes, they seem very happy to throw their constituents some red meat to get them energized to vote.”

“And it appears they’re primarily focused on two groups, the LGBTQ community and immigrants.”

“Yes, every society’s has had someone to blame for all of their ills. The early Roman Empire blamed the Christians, some Medieval European countries focused on the gypsies, all of Europe and some early American colonies tended to blame witches, and Hitler blamed the Jews. And those are just the more egregious examples.”

“And it’s important that the rest of us stand up for the oppressed groups.’

“Yes it is, because if we don’t defend them, then those attacking them may come for us next.”

“And it looks like there are some wannabe dictators in the mix as well?”

“It’s sad but true. I just pray they don’t get elected.”

“I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“Good for you.”

At this point, I saw someone walking toward us out of the corner of my eye, and when I turned to look more closely, I saw it was one of the regulars from our morning chats. Unfortunately, I knew you didn’t want to talk politics in front of him, because he was a big devotee of one of the candidates and believed every word the guy uttered.

“Hi, Louis,” I said, so Carlos wouldn’t continue talking. “You’re late, so what kept you and why are you here at this time of day

“I was about to ask you the same thing.”

“Oh, I was here at our usual time, but when no one else showed up, I started chatting with Carlos instead. I just met him and we’ve been chatting for quite a while.”

“Oh, I’ve never seen him around here before.”

“That’s because I’m just passing through. My motorcycle is parked out in front of this place, because I’m taking a little trip.”

“Do you belong to the Hells Angels or some other group like that?”

“No, I only belong to a gay motorcycle group in Miami.”

“Oh, so you’re a faggot,” Louis said before doing a quick about face and walking away.

I thought Carlos was about to say something, or possibly even stand up so he could follow Louis and punch him in the mouth, so I signaled Carlos to let it drop and told him it wasn’t worth the trouble.

“Let it go. You’ll never change him and he’s not worth the effort.”

“I hate it when someone makes a comment like that!”

“I know, but confronting him will serve no purpose.”

“And you’re friends with him?”

“No, he’s just one of the guys that stops in here for coffee and joins in our chat groups. We mainly talk about sports, the weather, and local events.”

Even though it didn’t look as if Carlos wanted to let Louis’ comment go unchallenged, he honored my request. I believe he only did this because he knew he’d be leaving and I’d have to deal with the fallout from an altercation, no matter whether it was a verbal or physical altercation.

“Bill, I enjoyed talking with you, but I’d better be getting on the road again.”

“Where are you heading next?”

“I think I’ll head toward Tennessee and maybe check out Nashville or Memphis. I’ve never been to either of those places before, and then I might head up to Michigan or Minnesota.”

“Since your traveling alone, I’d generally warn you about being too open about being gay while you’re in the south, especially considering the current political environment. But seeing you’re from Florida, you probably know that already.”

“Yes, I do, but I don’t like backing down when confronted or if I hear someone disparaging the LGBTQ community.”

“Just be careful, because I don’t want to read about you being beaten up or killed.”

“Yeah, I don’t want that to happen either, and I’m glad I met you.”

The last time I saw him, Carlos was riding his motorcycle west and heading out of town. I’d only known him for a short time, but I’m glad I’d met him. I know that I have benefited from this brief encounter, because he was a truly fascinating and interesting individual. I just hope he’s happy, no matter where the road may lead him.

Copyright © 2023 Bill W; All Rights Reserved.
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I hope you found this a fitting tribute to Carlos' life.  Please feel free to leave a note or click on an emoji to let me know what you thought of this story.  
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

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Chapter Comments

This sounded so much like Carlos.  A coffee chat with him would be so interesting and fun.  I especially like this line.

Quote

“No, it isn’t, but I like to take the roads less traveled when I start out, because I want to check out the different places I travel through. I only go on the highways when I’m in a hurry.”

I don't think Carlos ever took the easy route on the road or in his life.  Thanks, Bill!

  • Love 5
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Thanks for this, Bill. You painted an encounter that could easily have been a memory. All of my conversations with Carlos were in PMs, and most of them are best kept private. :)  He was definitely opinionated, never afraid to hold back, and a fascinating character with a social conscience... it's such a shame he is gone so early. 

Anyway, I think you did him proud with this little piece. Well done, sir. Cheers! Gary 

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On 1/1/2024 at 12:32 AM, BoyLove said:

Yes, Carlos Hazday was a great writer and longtime contributer to GA. He is sorely missed. I have read all of his works, and I always looked forward to his next installment at GA. May whatever road he now travels in the great beyond bring him much peace and happiness.

Thank you and I'm glad this story touched you. 

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On 1/1/2024 at 1:52 AM, weinerdog said:

You must have had a similar encounter with Carlos because that is exactly the way I picture him. Very well done and you're right he is so missed

Thank you, and I'm glad you think I captured the essence of Carlos. 

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Bill W

Posted (edited)

On 1/1/2024 at 5:52 AM, chris191070 said:

A beautiful tribute to Carlos. He is greatly missed.

Thank you, Chris, and I'm glad you enjoyed this tribute to Carlos. 

Edited by Bill W
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On 1/1/2024 at 7:16 AM, pvtguy said:

All I can say  is "Wow!" and thank you!  I was looking forward to meeting Carlos on his next trip to Orlando, but that never happened. 

Thank you, Tony, and I'm glad this story touched you. 

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On 1/1/2024 at 7:42 AM, Mancunian said:

Beautifully written. I'm sure I'm not on my own when I say, I would have loved to have met Carlos and chatted over a coffee. I magine we would have had a lot of laughs, fun and serious conversation as we 'put the world to rights'. Maybe that will happen if we get the chance to meet in the next world.

Thank you, Mancunian, and I'm glad you were able to envision yourself and Carlos in this story.  

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On 1/1/2024 at 2:18 PM, Valkyrie said:

Carlos would have been a fascinating person to talk with over coffee. I imagine the conversation being intense, funny, infuriating, and never dull for a moment!  Thank you for participating in the tribute! 

Thank you, Val, and I'm glad you thought this was a fitting tribute to Carlos. 

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On 1/1/2024 at 5:05 PM, Daddydavek said:

Thanks Bill! I enjoyed your story and the "bugs in my teeth" made me laugh out loud as I could picture Carlos saying it!

Thank you, Daddyd, and I'm glad you enjoyed this story and could picture Carlos saying that.  

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On 1/1/2024 at 7:34 PM, Defiance19 said:

 I enjoyed your encounter with Carlos. It made me smile because I could see him preening before entering the coffee shop. lol

Thank you, Defiance, and I'm glad you thought I captured some of Carlos' idiosyncrasies. 

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On 1/3/2024 at 2:43 AM, raven1 said:

This sounded so much like Carlos.  A coffee chat with him would be so interesting and fun.  I especially like this line.

I don't think Carlos ever took the easy route on the road or in his life.  Thanks, Bill!

Thank you, Terry, and I'm glad you thought I captured what Carlos would have been like.  No, he would never have taken the easy route and I'm glad you noted that as he was doing the same thing during his journey to the afterlife. 

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On 1/4/2024 at 5:19 PM, Headstall said:

Thanks for this, Bill. You painted an encounter that could easily have been a memory. All of my conversations with Carlos were in PMs, and most of them are best kept private. :)  He was definitely opinionated, never afraid to hold back, and a fascinating character with a social conscience... it's such a shame he is gone so early. 

Anyway, I think you did him proud with this little piece. Well done, sir. Cheers! Gary 

Thank you, Gary, and I'm glad you thought this little story might have been an actual encounter with Carlos.  He indeed will be sorely missed.  

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