After I devoured my pancakes, Moe came up to my table.
“I’m looking for someone to give this place to,” said Moe. “I would be willing to give it to you. What do you think?”
“I’m flattered that you think that I would be a good person to sell your café to,” I responded, “but I’m only passing through town.”
Moe thought about it for a second before sadly nodding his head in agreement. He stood there for a moment more before I noticed that he wasn’t looking at me, but past me. I turned to see a picture hanging on the back wall. I stared in disbelief at an old, faded picture of a younger Moe tenderly holding a baby in his arms. Moe looked so happy in the picture compared to the disgruntled old man who stood before me now. The baby as well as the picture somehow looked familiar to me, and out of pure curiosity I asked Moe if that was his child. He nodded, looking as lonely as ever.
“That child there,” he said softly, motioning to the picture, “was mine long ago.”
“Well, where is she now?” I asked.
“Off somewhere living a better life than she would’ve had here, I presume.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, not knowing what else to say.
But then he smiled at me warmly and said, “It’s okay. At least I got to see her one last time.”
A wave of relief washed over me as I hoped for the old man’s happiness in his final days. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I took one last look at the café in my rear view mirror and felt a sharp pain in my chest. I stared at Moe who stood at the corner waving. The sun blazed and burned my eyes. I hastily flipped down the sun visor, and a wrinkled black and white photo fell into my lap. A single tear ran down my face as I held the photo in my hand. I wonder when it was that I had forgotten about this picture of a happy young man and his child, the same picture on the wall at Moe’s Cafe?
I turned around.