He spoke a broken english with a Eastern European accent.

He had come to Brooklyn in 1947 after World War II.

He didn’t serve in the army back home, he faked an injury to avoid fighting for the Germans.

You see, his high school sweetheart was a Jewish girl. “She was a beautiful girl with a smile that would brighten a dreary world.”

In reality, he never saw her after the summer of 1939. “What a summer that was…”

But he did see her in his dreams if only briefly.

When he would envision her, he would see her smiling, frozen in time at 19 years old years of age. Still wearing the styles of the time and still radiant.

It’s just a ghost of a memory. He is a ghost of the man he once was. She was stolen by the devil and his life was never the same.

He moved to New York to see if he could find her again. He became Jewish by association and even learned to pray in Hebrew and to converse in Yiddish.

He never did see her again and he never did learn to love another again.

These days he spends his time playing chess in a park in Brooklyn. Sometimes he looks up and catches the sight of a girl running and he could swear it’s her…but she would be much older now, just as he was.

He wanted to be cremated when he died. This way he could be the smoke billowing from a chimney just as she might have been.

Last week he played a game of chess and went to his apartment. He passed away and was cremated according to his request.

Two ghosts in the smoke, dancing and holding hands as they glide towards the heavens.