I was returning from the local supermarket on Friday afternoon when I saw a man walking towards me who was a fairly close friend. I had met him often when I walked my dog by the river, and almost every day we would sit together and chat on the seat there.
He had lost his wife, and I am a widow. There was never any romantic attachment between us, just friendship, but I know he would have liked to have taken our friendship further. He bought me small gifts at Christmas, although I never gave him anything in return. He had a son in the police force, as I have, and we often chatted about them.
I liked him immensely. He was a good and kind man, and I always looked forward to seeing him, but I suppose I am selfish in a way in that I like my freedom. I don't want to lose that! My marriage was not a good one, and my late husband was a very violent man who beat me on occasions.
On the day I came back from the supermarket I smiled at my friend and waited for him to speak, but he seemed to be looking over my shoulder, as though he was looking out for someone, and he walked past me without saying a word. He was an ex-Navy man and always smartly dressed, and on this day he had on a navy shirt and a deep red tie, but no coat or jacket, which I thought was odd because it was a very cold day, so I presumed that he had his car close by somewhere. When I looked around there was no sign of him, and as there are no shops or anything on that side of the road, I couldn't think where he had gone.
I certainly didn't regard it then as a "spooky" experience, and I don't now. It was, as far as I am concerned, just one of those unexplained incidents that happen from time to time.
When I reached home I realized that it was the first time I had seen him without his walking stick. He had a slight limp and was never without his stick.
The following Thursday, I bought a local paper, and upon reading the obituary column, I discovered that he had died on the same day that I had seen him. Apparently he had died in a rest home, where he had been for the past couple of months according to his family.