Aron came to Monterey from some unnamed place. He lived alone and had no employment of which anyone was aware. Many in town assumed he had inherited wealth. Some thought he had robbed a bank. Others thought he had lived a long time before in Salins.
Aron walked with a fierce limp and he wore no wedding ring. Perhaps he had been unlucky at war and love. Most of his time he spent in innocent idleness on the old fishing wharf, dressed always in his red parka and jeans, a cap putting his face into shadow. He could often be seen patting the pocket on the left side of his parka, as if he were making sure something that was supposed to be inside was still there.
He was probably nearing 60, and despite his injury, he still moved with an athletic grace, when he moved at all. He preferred to sit for hours, sometimes reading a book at an outdoor table in front of one of the restaurants. At other times, he would slowly and neatly write on a lined sheet of paper that had traveled with him, folded in his parka pockets, from his lodging in a boarding house.
He could be friendly, but he almost never initiated a conversation, and never felt the need to explain himself or his behavior.
After three years on the pier, Aron began to enjoy sitting under it, next to a little floating dock. He liked to watch the collection of sea lions who swam around and under the pier, studying them as the tried to snack on unobservant fish below, or looked for gustatory contributions from the tourists above. He would watch them when they heaved their bulky bodies up onto the little dock, to warm themselves in the sun when it came out, and argue amongst themselves when it was foggy or overcast, which was most of the time. The little dock would rise and fall predictably with the tide and chaotically under the weight of the sea lions. Wherever he was at the end of the day, Aron would tear up anything he might have written, consigning the scraps of paper to the sea.
When he sat under the pier, Aron took with him an ample supply of bottled beer he would secure from Wing Chong's market, which sat unpretentiously amongst the canneries along Cannery Row. He always paid in cash, never with credit, which raised the suspicions of Chong. He often looked over his spectacles with disapproval at Aron, not because Chong knew Aron would soon be drunk, but because he knew Aron would drink himself into a stupor by himself. Inebriation, Chong had been taught, was a condition to be shared with friends, especially if a man didn't have any.