More vividly than anything else I remember his hands - leathery and worn like a pair of old shoes, enormous and thick like pickles. Each time I shook them I would stare, marveling and wondering about scores of years of work seen and done by those paws.
Kep would be 70 in the fall, but his heart was as young as mine. "You know, Shammy," he'd say, "I like workin' with you." "I like workin' with you, too, Kepper," I'd reply, curious as to why he'd just said that. Kep wasn't a man who talked just to hear his own voice, so each time he'd say something my ears would prick with excitement.
"I remember when I was your age Shammy," he'd say, gumming his worn pipe all the while, (he loved his pipe), "Yessir, I remember it like it was yesterday." "I'll bet you were a fine lookin' man, eh Kepper?," I replied with a small smirk.
"Bet the ladies thought you a fine gent', eh?" "Heh heh, Shammy, yeah I was a pretty strapping young man, in my day, if I do say so myself," he said, wearing that same smile he always wore, unrelentingly sucking and chumming his pipe.
"When did you meet Norma?" I asked inquisitively.
"Met her at the skatin' rink. She was there with another guy, but 'noticed her 'soon as she walked in, and she noticed me, too. She was more beautiful then anything these eyes had seen before. My heart dropped inta' my stomach and that's when I knew. After she'd spent some time with her date, I made my move. I went around the rink a few times and then skated on ova' to her. Then I pulled her into a corner and gave her a big smooch." Kep looked at me at that moment, I was enthralled, looking like a dog waiting for a treat, my eyes as big as children's on Christmas morning.
"What happenend next?" "Well, I figured I would let her finish up with her date, who wasn't too happy about the whole thing. But we planned to meet the next night, and the 'est is 'istory." I looked at Kep, he had a sort of drunken smile on his lips, staring off into space, dreaming of those days.
"Ya love her a lot, don't ya." "I sure do Shammy, I sure do.
I thought to myself that when I married, if was half as happy as Kepp, my life would be complete. I wanted a wife who loved me as much as Kep did Norma. That's what I wanted, that's all I wanted. To be loved.