There was a homemade sign up on the wall of the cafe. One of those signs you can make with colored paper, a computer with lots of fonts, and a printer that does photographs. It announced he had died a few days ago in a small Carinthian town after a long illness. I looked at the picture and instantly recognized him. He always seemed to be in that cafe whenever I visited. One of those late middle aged men who look ill, smoke way too much, are unslovenly but not exactly dirty, and who flirt with whatever waitresses are on duty that day. They all know him and you can tell they half like him, half don’t. He was loud and when he spoke he often looked around to see if anyone in the cafe was listening to him. I saw him there so often that after a few years we tipped each other a nod when we’d make eye contact.
The last time I saw him wasn’t long ago. I remember because that afternoon he wore a spotless white suit, shirt, and a colorful tie. He looked like he was dressed for a cocktail party in the tropics somewhere. I’d never seen him dressed up and wondered what was going on. A few minutes later a woman came out of the toilet and sat down at his table. It was the first time I’d ever seen him with a woman and he emanated happiness. I wondered if she was his wife, girlfriend, friend… After a while they bustled out of there obviously on their way to some snappy event. The two waitresses working that day caught each others’ eyes and smiled. They were happy for him.
— Jonathan Carroll