The first thing you noticed about Murph was this deep notch in his chin. Not a dimple, mind you. Too large for a dimple. Besides, it wasn’t round. It was oblong and it reached from his lower lip down to the tip of his chin.

Everyone looked Murph directly in the eyes, so he wouldn’t think you were staring at his chin.  I, for one, was always nervous around him.  Usually, he did the talking. And when he talked, that notch disappeared.  It flattened out, so his chin was almost smooth as mine. Then he would pause, and that thing deepened and narrowed to its restful state and, I swear, I probably got bug-eyed. I had to really concentrate, focus on his eyes, and try to remember what he’d been talking about.“Read


Oftentimes you wanted to hear what Murph had to say because he made it seem important.  He had that ability to say anything to anyone and get away with it. They said he was one hell of a used car salesman, something I could never do. It was fun to watch him bargain with people. You just knew he would get the best of them. And he always had a joke or two. Yeah, he was quite a guy.

Anyhow, this one time Murph and I were out fishing for crappies at the reservoir.  We’d had a good run, using minnows on spreaders, and often as not pulling up two fish at a time.  At least Murph was getting his share of double-headers.  He was one fine fisherman and he talked constantly, like I said before.  Long as I had something else to look at, my bobber, the minnow I was putting on my hook, them other fishermen down along the bank, I could forget that damn chin and just relax and enjoy.

“Pete,” he said, “I been meaning to tell you something for a long time now.  I guess this is as good a time as ever, since the fishin’s good and it ain’t rainin, and you just told me how much you appreciate me inviting you out here and all.” Continue reading “Murph”

The Bellboy

Late Saturday morning in July, after working a week in Bogota, I change hotels, a 30-minute cab ride from the modest but comfortable Embassy Suites to the tony Radisson. A quiet time of year – schools out of session, families taking vacations. A slow period in the lobby. No businessmen heading to the office, early for check-in and late for check-out. Late for breakfast and early for lunch. Unlike my typical evening check-in after a five-hour flight, tired and anxious to get to my room, now I feel like chatting with the desk clerk and the bell boy. Continue reading “The Bellboy”