It was a cold winter December night in the city of Salzburg. Lukas slowly slurped the black coffee which had gone cold. He sighed and started gazing at the night sky while sitting near an oak tree on a bench beside the lake Fuschlsee. It was a full moon night. He could see the reflection of the entire sky in the lake. It was a beautiful scenic view. Very soothing to the eyes. Lukas liked it this way. Being an army veteran and having served in the forces for most of his life, he rarely had found time to capture such moments. It was midnight and he should have been at his home instead of being out here in that chilling wintry night. But he thought of spending some more time there as his wife had gone to see her parents so he had one thing less to worry about. Having finished his coffee he thought of smoking a Marlboro and giving this evening a perfect ending. As he lit his cigarette and smoked, he suddenly saw the shadow of a man cast on the big cloud of smoke that he puffed out. As the smoke cleared he could see a man-like figure standing near him. Before he could say something the man-like figure which now clearly seemed to be a man came closer to him and sat down beside him on the bench. Lukas started surveying the man with his eyes. He was a tall guy probably in his mid-thirties which made him very young to him. His face was not visible in the dim moonlight. He wore a blue woolen coat which felt warm and a pair of plain trousers. He wore shoes which had almost worn out
Lukas was curious as to what a man must come here at this odd time in that chilling wintry night. But then realized that he was no different. He decided to start a short conversation with the guy while he finishes his cigarette and then would head back home. "Hello there, my name's Lukas and I live in the town by the lake". The guy simply nodded and started gazing at the sky. "Maybe he needs a cigarette too," Lukas thought to himself and pulled out another Marlboro for his guest. The guy without any hesitation accepted Lukas' warmth gesture. Lukas helped the guy light his cigarette and the light from the matchstick revealed his face to Lukas.
Lukas got a glimpse of the face of his fellow stranger and concluded that his guesses were right. The man was in his mid-thirties. He had a depressed look. His tired eyes spoke for themselves. Looking at his outfit he seemed to be a factory worker who worked in the nearby textile factory. The year had been financially bad for the nation. Working-class was the most affected. People were committing suicide as they were heavily indebted. "Poor guy must be going through a lot of stress," thought Lukas as he finally seemed to conclude. He thought that the best thing he could do was not disturb and let the guy enjoy that beautiful night scene. He had already helped him with a cigarette which he thought was more than enough to show that he cared.
Lukas finally thought it was time for him to leave also the atmosphere had gotten colder. As he began walking away from the lake, he heard a very faint sound, "thanks " he heard the stranger say in a very faint voice. Lukas smiled and felt good for having shown friendliness to the poor guy. As Lukas started leaving he could see the stranger was rock still and was gazing at the lake.
The next morning Lukas visited the local cafe to have his regular black coffee. As he sat down waiting for his order, he saw the newspaper and got busy with the news. He was suddenly shocked as he read the news of a young man who had committed suicide by drowning himself in the Fuschlsee lake. It was the same guy he met last night. He could see his picture in the newspaper and he knew it was the same guy. The news sent him into a guilt trip and he couldn't stop blaming himself for leaving that night. "If only I had tried to converse more" he said to himself. Meanwhile, a waitress arrived with his coffee and as she finished adding the sugar cubes she asked him if he needed something else to which he shook his head. As the waiter was leaving she suddenly stopped and started gazing at the newspaper and interrupted him and asked: "Sir if you don't mind can I get you the latest newspaper?" "What do you mean by that? I already got the newspaper" he replied. The waitress made an apologetic face and replied in a low tone "I am sorry sir, but that newspaper is three days old".