INTRODUCTION TO THE STORY
We’re finishing up with the final part of Gail, an eight-part series of audio posts. Named for one of its two major characters, the story is told by a middle-aged man named Warren. One night at a bar Warren quite unexpectedly runs into an old woman whom he used to know when he was a young boy and whom he hadn’t seen in decades. The chance encounter turns into a very powerful exchange of emotions and kind words. By the time they say their goodbyes, Warren find himself much richer for it, as does Gail, apparently.
The story, under the title ‘The Moor’, was part of a This American Life show. More importantly, it was featured in Angels on the Roof, a book of short stories written by Russell Banks, who also provided the narration. As in many other audio posts, I am aware I’m committing a copyright infringement by posting the audio and text versions on this website. In my defense, not much can be said, really.
The rest of the way we don‘t talk except for her giving me directions to her son‘s house, which is a plain brick ranch on a curving sidestreet up by the old armory. The porch light is on but the rest of the house is dark. It‘s late, I say to her. So it is. I get out and come around and help her from the car and then walk her up the path to the door. She gets the key from her purse and unlocks the door and turns around and looks up at me. She‘s not as tall as she used to be. I‘m very happy that we saw each other tonight, she says. We probably won‘t see each other again.
Well, we can, if you want to. You‘re still a very sweet man, Warren. I‘m glad of that. I wasn‘t wrong about you.
armory … zbrojnice
curving … plná zatáček
dismiss … propustit (nechat jít)
it’s all I can do to … jen tak tak že (jen s největšími potížemi…)
lean … naklonit se
Moor … Maur
plain … nezdobený, obyčejný
porch … veranda
I don‘t know what to say. I want to kiss her though, and I do. I lean down and put my arms around her and kiss her on the lips, very gently. Then a little more, and she kisses me back with just enough pressure against me to let me know that she is remembering everything too.
We hold each other like that for a long time. Then I step away and she turns and opens the door and takes one last look back at me. She smiles. You still got makeup on, she says. What‘s the play? I forgot to ask. Oh, I say, thinking fast, because I‘m remembering that she‘s Catholic and probably doesn‘t think much of the Masons. Othello, I say. That‘s nice. And you‘re the Moor? Yes. Still smiling, she gives me a slow pushing wave with her hand as if dismissing me and goes inside.
Driving home, it‘s all I can do to keep from crying. Times come, times gone, times never returning, I say to myself. What‘s here in front of me is all I‘ve got, I decide. And as I drive my car through the blowing snow, it doesn‘t seem like much. Except for the kindness that I‘ve just exchanged with an old lady. So I concentrate on that.