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  • It's 45 minutes to closing. The owner sits watching TV with legs crossed and a dish rag dangling from one hand. When I walk in, he jumps like a child who's been caught stealing. Canned laughter bounces off the walls. He mutes the TV while I read the menu. We are the only two people in the room.

    The food takes mere minutes to arrive. The owner reclaims his spot in front of the TV, a few meters away at the next table. Out of the corner of my eye, I watch his skinny, tired-looking frame.

    "You can turn the sound back on if you like. It wouldn't bother me at all. Really," I venture.

    "Oh, no, no. It's ok." he replies, almost apologetically, both his hands coming up in defense.

    Ok.

    So we both turn back to the TV, our faces tilted up to receive the wordless jokes that we don't laugh at. The neons buzz and freezing rain patters on the pavement outside.
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