Landscape with Figures
Edward Mullany

One drizzly afternoon, when the rain had stopped, and I could feel droplets only when a gust of wind, or a breeze, shook the moisture from the braches of leafy trees I happened to be walking under, I encountered an old man in a ragged suit who was sitting alone on one of several benches on a footpath that meandered through the park, tossing sliced bread to the pigeons who'd gathered near him and who were clucking and pecking at each other each time a slice was dropped amongst them. "Do you have the time?" I asked the old man, surprised to have come across someone in the park on such an afternoon. "I do," said the old man, and he glanced at his wristwatch and told me. Then he said, because I'd stopped to watch him feed the pigeons, "It's always the same with these birds. At first you think they like you only because of the bread. Then you think they like you because they've gotten to know you and have developed a friendly feeling toward you. Then, I don't know. You keep finding yourself in the same spot, doing the same thing. Years pass."

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