Silently I sat in the store's parking lot, it was a cool spring day. Across the empty spaces before me, I noticed a light blue Vespa. It was peculiar in color, a Robin's egg hue. In my thoughts I mused, who this interesting Vespa's owner might be. Thoughts of a fashion friendly young woman, with tall boots, and slick-straight hair came to mind. I thought of, too, a young man eclectic in his tastes.
As my mind whirled on, an electric cart wheezed out to cross the white-lined threshold that laid before the store front. The soft electric churn caught in my ear and my attention drew, there, to the frail man making his way out. His basket full of groceries, I thought it strange no one followed to assist him to his car. His demeanor exuded pride, self-reliance, even as his feet were protected with slippers, well worn with time. I watched on, my eyes trailing the slow buzz of his transport.
He came to pass the front of a paler red pick-up, and I felt a soft smile begin to form upon my face. Well aged, I found it fitting that this might be his truck. As he passed it, I felt my smile fade and my brows become an indicator of confusion. It was then I felt my heart squeeze in the center of my chest.
The buzz quieted as he came to a halt before the awaiting little Vespa. My expression changed into one of wonder, while I watched on intently. He gathered himself, setting the cane that rested between his legs out onto the pavement, to rise steadily from the electric cart. It was the first moment I noticed the cane, a bamboo like structure in a deep, tasteful mahogany. The curve of the cane was a sophisticated bend, much like the bend in the frail man's back-- a dedicated C for courage.
With a determined hobble and slow purpose, he pulled from the Vespa's little front pack, canvas bags and short bungee cords. My disbelieving eyes followed his every movement. With the bungee cords, his coarse hands worked steadily to make saddlebags for the little Vespa.
He attached the hooks of the bungee cords to the handles of the canvas bags, and tethered the contraption across his seat. Once he was satisfied with his work, work he labored on for almost fifteen minutes, he turned his attention to the cart of groceries. He searched through the front basket of the electric shopping cart for a moment, pulling out the heaviest of items. Juice was set in one bag, on one side of the Vespa, and milk was set in the other bag, on the other side of the Vespa. He carried on, slow and steady, distributing the weight evenly between the bags. I was awe-struck, debating between thoughts of offering help and allowing him the right to succeed on his own. With one bag left, he shuffled his slippered feet towards the front of his Vespa, his cane loyal at his side. He reached for a little white helmet that hung to the Vespa's handlebars by its straps. Moving to rest his cane on the light blue paint, he pulled the helmet over his head, and snapped the straps securely under his scruffy bearded chin. Well into the half-hour mark, he was near departure.
Shuffling back to the cart's nearly empty basket, he pulled out the last of his groceries. It was a bag that held a carton of eggs beneath a loaf of bread. Leaving the electric cart stranded, he placed the last bag carefully on the floor of the Vespa, and with his cane to aid him, made his way onto his ride too.
As he shifted himself onto the seat of the Vespa, I know I was grinning from ear to ear. I watched as his slippered toes pushed against the pavement, his body lunging forward to release the kickstand that held the Vespa so patiently. How I wished I knew this man, so delicate in stature, but with a mind as determined as any ox. As my thoughts took hold, I heard the Vespa's motor. He was gone, and in his dust, he left the puttered out shopping cart as my only witness.