Morris S. is a watchmaker who had a tiny shop in Downtown Brooklyn. His customers were office workers, people from the neighborhood and even some judges from Family Court. He worked alone in a tiny shop and his work was meticulous and precise. He liked things done the right way.
His own life was sober and regular: into his shop by eight o’clock, out by five thirty, then on to his apartment to make a simple supper. Eggs, usually, and the occasional veal chop. He said that he liked to watch “high-type” programs on television, programs his wife said meant “screechy songs and clog dancing.”
He used to tell his children that he didn’t like time-wasters or nudnicks and was resigned to the fact that it hadn’t made much of an impression. But what did they know? His wife used to say that he was always looking for an argument. But what did she know? Nothing against her, she made a good brisket, and she was dead now anyway. He lived alone and liked it. His good life was upended in his late seventies when he had an eye operation and could no longer work or live alone. He went into assisted living but had no plan to mix and mingle there.
He was laying out a solitaire hand in the living room when a nudnick named Benny said , “Moish, can you teach me black-on-black? My wife used to play red-on-black.”
“ The name is Morris. Do I look like a social director to you?”
“No, a card shark.”
“Very nice. Very nice. And you want a favor? Well, sit down if you’re gonna sit down. Sit down and shuffle.”
Benny made two piles.
“Why are you futzing with them? You need to make them even”
“You don’t need that for Solitaire,” Benny retorted. “ They get all mixed together anyway.”
“Who told you that?”
“Me. Me, myself and I asked me.”
“What kind of an answer is that?”
“What is this? You like to start a fight just to start a fight?”
“I like to do things the right way.”
“Oh no! You had it in for me all along.”
“I never laid eyes on you before.”
“I just got here from Brooklyn, you dummy.”
“Who are you calling a dummy?”
“You see anyone else here?”
“Mind your manners and I’ll teach you.”
Morris reshuffled the cards.
“Hooray for you. What changed your mind?”
“You’re from Brooklyn too and we’re both old.”
Morris continued as he dealt out the cards.
“Too bad you’re not from Brownsville.”
“Okay, okay, we can fight about that from now on. In the meantime I’m dying for some coffee.”
“I’m not a coffee drinker.”
“You wouldn’t be!”
“But— I’ll go with you to the café.”
“Don’t mention it.”
“Is this a federal case? I just wanted a little action. You could die of boredom here.”
Could this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship?