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  • There were the nights. We’d be in the study and I would be getting ready to read; it takes a moment to prepare. I have to make sure there’s nothing to distract me, like a misplaced object, or that empty mug from two days previous with the coffee dried in the bottom. For him, though, there was no preparation. As soon as he found his page he’d be gone for what he was reading. He would sit there in his book, never speaking, never looking up.

    I'll go out for a smoke. The door from the study to the outside was just left of his desk and sometimes I’d ask him to scoot his chair so I could open the door. I would smoke alone and look at the stars. I was never any good at telling this star from that. And when I came in, he’d still be there, only a few pages further down from where I left him. And then back to my desk. Now I’m ready.

    Now and then he might say, without looking up, “Listen to this.” He would read out loud from the book a quote and I would listen and try to follow in my head whatever it was in his. After a paragraph or so he might comment, “isn’t that crazy!” Then he’d go back in his book. Of course, I didn’t follow what he read one bit, but I would nod or give a laugh and that would suffice. He would go back to reading and I would read too. I couldn’t read as sincerely as he could though, or as fast or for as long. I might have a coffee if I wanted to read something non-fiction. But when I read fiction I’ll have a rum or some beer. Sometimes he would have some beer and he would stop reading and then we could talk. We’d talk about what he read, or what I read, or about what neither of us read but still we were concerned about it. After beer it’s easy to talk about nearly anything that comes to mind. We might discuss whichever philosophy he was studying at the time or what one of us had seen in the news that day, or the previous day. Or perhaps we would talk about that person we’d both know from school and what the hell were they doing these days. Anyway, after some beer any conversation is possible. And in that summer, night after night, it was all possible.
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