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Quiet Please

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The man sitting in the library reading the Tribune appears to be about 60. There's a dusting of gray in his thin beard, and he looks somewhat frail and unsteady. He wears a plaid cabdriver's cap, a clashing plaid shirt, and well-pressed blue pants. A man who appears to be about 30 walks up with the Sun-Times and sits down next to him. The younger man is wearing a polo shirt with a little sprinting fox above the pocket, and his mustache and sideburns are neatly trimmed. He tells the older man he looks good.

"Oh yeah," the man says, with a slight smile. "I got some friends. They let me stay overnight."

"Oh!" the young man says. "Are you going back there tonight?"

"Oh no. I wouldn't go there every night."

"Because it's gonna rain tonight."

"Yeah. I know. I'll find somewhere."

"It's gonna rain. The place I go to is real crowded. Probably because of the rain."

"Probably so."

"That's the reason it's crowded. The rain. And in the winter too."

"Yeah. The winter. Sure."

"If you can get in there, it's great," the young man says. "You're set for 30 days. You get to sleep on the same bed every night. Fresh sheets and blankets. Breakfast and dinner. And they treat you great." He gives the thumbs up sign.

"Sure. Right."

The young man flips open the Sun-Times. "I'm gonna check my horoscope. I don't know why I do that."

"I do it sometimes, too. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad."

At the table behind them a young well-groomed man is busily scribbling notes on file cards. He looks up from the book of Emily Dickinson's poetry that he's reading and glares at the two men. He lets out a series of short whistles. "Hey! You wanna keep it down!"

The man in the plaid cap rises a few seconds later. "OK," he says quietly to his friend. "Thank you. See you tomorrow."

"See ya tonight," the young man says, then winces and looks over his shoulder at the man who is studying.

"Tomorrow."

"No. Tonight. Over there." The young man points back over his shoulder with his thumb.

"Oh yeah. At the church. Right."

"See ya there."

The man walks out, sliding his feet across the carpet.

The young man just sits for a minute or so, and then picks up his paper and reads his horoscope.

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