Benson wants to talk, but I am not in the mood. He is understanding, and monologues freely. He’s talking of poems and the fruits of labor. I don’t believe him today. He is wise, I am sure, and I am foolish, and I am ready to be cynical and old. I tell him so.
“Don’t be stupid. I’m no wise man. I’m as ignorant as you,” he tells me. He is pulling the cart, directing it, as I push it from behind. “I just, oh I don’t know, ignore the bad things. That in itself is a bad habit, because I know other people can’t ignore the wrongs as I can, and forgetting about things is no way to solve them. It’s better than holding on too hard, though. That will make you crazy, and break your heart.”
He says this so matter-of-factly that I smile despite myself. Benson is a curious man.
“You would know” I ask, ”about heartbreak?”
“Of course I know heartbreak. You can’t be a man if you don’t. All heartbreak doesn’t come from women, mind you, although a good portion does. I’ve had my share of all sorts.”
I can’t picture Ben with women, courting or flirting with anyone. I cannot imagine him at my age, though he cannot be too old, only about the age my father would have been by now.
We continue our deliveries, and gradually I can feel myself letting go of the morning. Benson is a healing force, a talker among silent stones. He buys me another cup of tea after I mention the first. The first gulp goes down hot and minty, searing my throat in a refreshing fashion. I blink before drinking the rest, and feel more awake.
We are not quite done with our deliveries by noon, but decide to split for lunch and meet back at the porthouse afterwards. Benson invites me to eat with him, but I insist that I should balance the payments we have received. This is usually Koso’s job, and Benson knows it must be done, so his protests are feeble and short-lived. I walk back up North Street.