His bushy white eyebrows catch some wind and battle with his eyelashes. He dresses simple, now seventy-eight years old, Mr. Chen wears only comfort clothing. Always reading but never saying much Mr. Chen likes to hide in thoughtful games.
We meet at the park on Sundays just to share each others company and move the pieces around in silent warfare. When he seldom speaks I can barely decipher his heavy Asian accented English. But today is different. He’s a coherent tangent instead of a steadfast mute.
While studying the board I catch the last bit of what Mr. Chen said, “…Whipped me on the back.”
I look up, “I’m sorry. What?”
He watches me kill his pawn and restates, “I have not taken a beating this badly since the rice fields in China.”
A wind swirls some leaves by my side like a miniature tornado; gentle colors play with autumn.
“What was it like growing up in China?” My question lit up his expressionless eyes.
“The heat is what gets you in the rice fields.” he said.