Mr. Holson gripped the wooden handle of his umbrella in his left hand as he stepped around a puddle. The sidewalk was wet. It had briefly rained earlier that morning, and Mr. Holson had waited for the rain to stop before stepping outside. The rain drops were small and light, but Mr. Holson didn’t want to risk getting wet. It would be a bother to him the rest of the day if he came home wet.
In his right hand, gripped snuggly between his arm and his body, Mr. Holson carried a newspaper. He did not want it to get wet. The rain had stopped, but you could never tell when it might start again. Also, the trees dripped tiny droplets of rain water. Mr. Holson felt the quiet patter of the droplets fall from the trees onto his umbrella and pulled his newspaper more closely to his body.
The newspaper had cost Mr. Holson seventy-five cents. He picked it up every morning from the grocery store that was just down the street from his home, at the corner of his block. Mr. Holson’s son once offered to get Mr. Holson a newspaper subscription. His son told him it would be delivered to his front door every morning before Mr. Holson had even woken up, and it’d save him time because he wouldn’t have to walk down the street for his paper anymore. Mr. Holson refused. He had nothing but time, he told his son. Besides, Mr. Holson liked walking to the grocery store at the corner of his block every morning. He liked that he knew it took exactly fifty-seven steps from the bottom of his front steps to get to the corner store. He liked the wooden, green grocery door that had a little bell attached to it that rang every time he slowly opened the door. He liked how Mr. Curry, a young man in his mid-forties who owned the corner grocery store, greeted him every morning from behind the counter with a big wave and a big smile. He liked the smells of donuts and sugars and fresh apples and coffee that mixed together all at once inside the store. He liked picking up his newspaper from the very top of the stack, the first copy Mr. Curry sold every morning. And Mr. Holson liked walking the fifty-seven steps back to his home, gripping the newspaper under his right arm, the same way he had every morning for the last ten years.
As Mr. Holson took his forty-ninth step from the corner, he turned his gaze from the wet sidewalk below him to the tall building in front of him. The building was old. Blue shudders encased every window, but the paint was faded and peeling. Many of the bricks that lined the front of the building were chipped and eroded. The rails that lined the front stoop up to the door were rusty and creaked whenever you grabbed hold of them.
Mr. Holson looked up at the old building as he reached his fifty-seventh step and arrived at the base of his front stoop. He did not think about how old the building was or how he had lived in it for over twenty-five years. He didn’t think about all the hot summers where he had to prop every window open in order to get some air to blow through his home. He didn’t think about his wife or the music that would flow through the walls and the windows every time she put her favorite record on. He didn’t think about how lonely he had been for the past eight years after his wife passed away. Most of all, he didn’t think about the letter he received four months ago from the city, telling him that he would have to move from his home and take residence up somewhere else.
Mr. Holson did not think of any of these things. He only stood at the bottom of his stoop and stared at the old building, still clutching the newspaper snuggly in his right arm. Mr. Holson stared at the building and sighed a heavy breath of air from his mouth. He looked down at the stoop and began climbing the steps towards the front door.