“Looks like you had a good night, Ben.” The old man seated next to him tipped his cup, gently tapping Ben’s glass, and smiled contentedly.
Ben was ready to move to another seat to avoid contact with the stranger, but the man had a familiar face. “I’m sorry, have we met before? I usually remember names but I’m at a loss here.” Ben took a closer look at the man sitting next to him. He had deep lines etched in his face and wore a large cowboy hat. He was a big man, with a kind and innocent expression. “Yes, I believe we know each other.” He laughed, “We must, you know my name. Do I know you from Seattle?”
The old man sipped his tea. “Seattle? Sure, Ben. Say, thought I would check out Wind River. I hear the fishing there is great.” His eyes had a devious twinkle as he continued, “I’ve got to admit, as much as I hate this time of year, you are entertaining to keep up with. Oh, by the way, sorry about your friend, Harry. You do realize that his last hours were some of his happiest because of you, don’t you?”
Ben was ready to run, “What the hell, how do you know all this?” He looked around to see if anyone else heard him, then looked at the old man and lowered his voice. “What are you, a stalker?” A shot of pain ran through his head and he grabbed the old man’s arm. “Harry. Were you at the fish bar, did you follow me from Seattle?”
The old man removed Ben’s grip and said, “Are you quite done? You really need to get a hold of yourself. Like it or not, I’m in your life now.” His hand reached up and brushed hair away from Ben’s forehead. “That’s a nasty scar you’re going to have, such an ugly reminder of that life-changing night.” The old man took a deep breath to calm himself and looked around the casino. “I like your style, Ben. This is really exciting.”
Ben’s blood pressure was ready to explode and he struggled to complete his sentences. “Look, mister. I’m going to leave here now. If I see you following me, I’ll call the police and turn you into the authorities. Do you understand me?” Ben took a moment and cleared his throat.
The old man, looking frustrated with Ben said, “Ok, enough of this talk. When you’re in a better mood, I’ll tell you more about myself. Until then, get used to my presence in your life, and if you’re going to act like a jerk every time we meet, I can’t see our time together end soon enough.” His eyes glared at him in despair. “Look, I have to be going now, Ben, but let me leave you with these last words to think about.” He stood and tipped his hat to indicate his exit. “Next time we meet, I’d really like to have a warmer reception. Oh, and if you wouldn’t mind, I’d appreciate it greatly if you called me by my name. Mickey.”
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