Through the plate glass window, I saw Carl shuffling down the alley. He leaned forward as he walked, as though buffeting a headwind. His baseball cap pulled low, wearing his perennial sunglasses, a slight breeze ruffling his white beard. Reaching the street he stopped. He stood for several long seconds looking both ways, then he started across.
I didn't need a clock to know it was time to open the liquor store. Carl was my first customer, not just today, but every day. The buzzer sounded as he pushed open the door, and I was greeted by him yelling, "You awake, this morning?" then laughing like it was the funniest thing he'd said all day. I assured him I was awake. Then I asked about his mother, whom he lived with. "Your mom playing bingo this morning?"
"Nope, she's getting her hair done, and won't be gone long, so I gotta get back." Carl was 54 years old, and looked a decade older, his mother a 74 year old widow. They lived together in her double wide trailer. For reasons never explained, Carl hadn't held down a job in ten years. He managed to make enough money, doing odd jobs around the trailer court to buy at least 3 forty ounce bottles of beer every day. Today he bought the usual 3 bottles of beer and stuffed them into his shirt. He always declined a paper bag, I suspect the reason for that was so as not to let anyone know he had beer. He paid for the beer with a handful of coins, wished me a good day, and off he went. Just another one of the towns characters.