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The man with the black gloves

Nothing better than a train ride to observe people. But the gentleman opposite you, don't you know him? He seems to be very familiar...

You think you've seen him before, but it's impossible. He reminds you of someone, but who? Surely not a celebrity, he is moving in the most un-famous way, crouching almost, not hiding from someone, but hiding from the world in general, like a shy animal.

In the train it's unbearably hot, but he wears thick boots, still glistening with raindrops from the storm outside. He hasn't taken off his jacket, nor his hat, and not his gloves. They are black gloves, leather, undescriptive - not something a rich man would wear. They look worn a bit, but not dilapidated. The rest of his clothing is not shabby, it only seems like that from the way he wears it, or how the clothes wear him. He seems to be waiting for the wind to blow off the roof and he will be the only one dressed perfectly with his hat and boots and gloves.

His dark eyes look calmly ahead, not in reflection or thought, not lost in memory, but behind the thin metal frames, waiting patiently.

You have seen him before, you are sure. His cheeks are sunken, signs of an exhausting life, not of illness or struggle, his beard trimmed neatly, the white hairs stained yellow from smoking heavy unfilterted cigs. This, and his occasional dry cough are the only signs of some sin, some habit picked up in the past and it's maybe the only bad habit he has, or you think, the habit has him.

He doesn't partake in the commotion on the train, oblivious to it, doesn't react when the girl suddenly screams from her mother's embrace or when the boys tell lewd jokes and even you have to smile, if just at their tastelessness. He probably doesn't speak the language you think, trying to find more evidence - the only thing he carries is a burlap sack from the local supermarket with as-of-yet undefined contents. You really want to know what's in the bag, as if it will explain the feeling of knowing this man, maybe he is a time traveler and in the bag, the most inconspicuous bag of all, he carries his time machine.

You look at him, trying not to stare, even though he doesn't seem to notice your glances. You rack your memory - a friend of your grandfathers? Professor from the university? Old doctor, treating you in childhood before proper memory could form? But he isn't any of those, not a doctor professor lawyer type. He really isn't any type, not someone who works with this body, nor with his analytic mind. He might just work with his hands, but you cannot see them, still in gloves that rest peacefully on his legs. An artist, maybe? How would you have encountered an artist in your sheltered life? Plus, his boots and clothing are too functional to be an artist's, too normal. Yet, a clue as his hat moves up just a notch and you spot a tiny bronze earring on his left ear, almost invisible against his skin. His skin, you notice, seems tanned, working outdoors - he is a farmer perhaps? No, not with his body, and you have never, never met a farmer in your life. Yet you've seen him. By chance, could he be from your hometown thousands of kilometers away and he is selling fruits at this little stand near the beach?

The earring makes him seem rebellious somehow, more exciting, a contrast to his very calm, almost still behavior. A trader, possibly, with a glorious past as a sailor and now locked in the security of nine to five, he is living alone you think, just because you cannot imagine another person matching him.

You think back to literature class, he must be an archetype, maybe a lost uncle or some ideal father, you don't remember the lecture very well. 

The train pulls into the next station and he stands up, suddenly, like he is commanding you, your eyes lock and he nods. "Until next time," he says and leaves. Through the window, you try to spot the man with the hat and the boots and gloves on the plattform, but he is nowhere to be seen.

And the train moves on.