Something about Sam

Three years before Sam retired from Ahlstrom Glass, Amanda, Sam, and Ed were out walking. Amanda pulled out her iPhone and took a photo of the light breaking through clouds above the canal. Sam said aloud that he’d like a single word to describe what they saw. A woman just passing by (in brown velvet sweats) suggested “Jesus clouds.” Amanda said she was a Jew and didn’t know much about Jesus. Ed opened his mouth and put in his two cents: “Jesus is for everyone. He’s a gangsta and his homies are the twelve stations of the clock”

When Sam retired he became the official unofficial greeter at Mr. Burger on Hooper and 34th. Said he just needed to keep busy. He wore a wide tie and white shirt. He had a little badge that said Sam. He greeted everyone with a big hello and went from booth to booth asking permission to take a snapshot or two (he preferred the instant gratification of an old Polaroid)

The owner, a Mr. Burlington, was nice enough to provide Sam with a roomy niche near the restrooms to hang his photos. Of course with Sam it was photos plus. Though the niche was always “all Sam,” it reminded Ed of the glitzy Americana he’d seen by MABE in Atlanta

Then Sam really did retire. He stopped going to Mr. Burger. He stopped stopping by. According to his daughter, Teri, he pretty much stuck to broth, complained of sore legs, and rarely got out of bed

On a whim, Teri started collecting angels—small wooden angels she’d pick up at various
antique malls and novelty shops—and setting them on a knick-knack shelf above
Sam’s bed

The last time Ed saw Sam was two days before he died

Ed tried to get Sam to go for a walk but he wouldn’t. Sam said he’d rather not. Said he was fine where he was. Giving up on the walk, Ed looked around the room, searching for something to talk about. Ed tried talking to Sam about all the angels Teri was collecting on the shelf above his bed. Sam acted mildly interested in the topic, but insisted he knew more about angels than Teri. Said, so far as he knew, angels, no matter which way they turned, were always facing God