WCD submission #3. Today our appreciation goes to Angus Briggs, for his heartfelt celebration of human relationships. A brief introduction, but the writing speaks for itself.
Those Men in the Corner
By Angus Briggs
I don’t think they ever told me their names. To be honest, I never asked. We always referred to them as ‘those men in the corner’; because that’s all the description the people at the care home wished to give them. However, upon sitting and listening to them. Listening to their tales of heartbreak and sorrow and wonderous magnificence, I can’t help but call them anything but human. And I think that truly is all they needed to be. For me anyway, they were an interlude, but a segment, of my melodramatic, fractious life. And for that I will always be grateful. For they gave me meaning for which will forever mean the world to me.
The table around which they always sat, was one of the smallest in the large living quarters. But it was the only one which had the chess board – as they always said to me “a little competition between loved ones is only natural”. And so, every day, without fail, they were there, playing chess, living life and being themselves. It was on one fateful Thursday where I decided to approach and request a conversation; one in which I had no idea would change my outlook on life so dramatically.
“Good Evening, gents. I’m new here. I was wondering if I could help you anything.”
“Good Morning”, said the man who always played with the white pieces, for some reason.
I looked at my watch out of sympathy. “You know its nearly 7 o’clock.”
“It’s morning somewhere, Son”, this time the other gentleman spoke, “It can be morning for you too, if you want it to be”. The thing I remember most about this man were his eyes. They were haunting. Hauntingly beautiful. Full of pathos and a deep-seated kindness that I could only have wished to have. And he smiled, such a deep, passionate, embedded smile, that it took me a back at first. It was almost as if I didn’t know what to do with it, because I knew I could never return it in any sort of similarly meaningful way. What I failed to recognise at the time was that he didn’t need it to be returned.
The other man then grabbed my wrist. But not in an uncomfortable, uncontrollable way. It had softness to it, it was not full of malice or ill-intent. He then put my hand in his and said me the most wonderful thing.
“My boy. My dear boy. We do not need anything. We have found the world we wish to live in, and it has accepted us, and we are at peace. And it is now for us to ask you… what you need of us?”
From that day, that magnificent, wonderful, virtuous day, the two anonymous gentlemen and I would share stories back and forth of our lives. We shared loves and loses, truths and lies and we were happy and then we would cry – and then, more often than not, we would do the same thing all over again. And it ended and it was wonderful.