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Wandering Alone

Cobble LaneAll the other people on the trip went off with their maps and guidebooks.  I didn’t want to see the town that way.  I wanted to get under the skin of the place, and perhaps see the real people rather than other tourists looking at me as another tourist.  I left the quaint little hotel before any of the others were even awake on Sunday morning.

The sun was warm already, and I was grateful for the shaded lane-ways that I was exploring. From time to time I was able to glance through dusty windows for a glimpse of a typical little apartment where typical citizens lived.  Men were reading newspapers; women were already taking care of their homes.

To my surprise, I emerged from a small alley into what appeared to be a neighbourhood park.  It was about a block square.  In it’s center was a small fountain surrounded by a wading pool.  There were no children in the pool at that early hour, but there was one person enjoying the cool water.  She was an older woman, silver hair hanging down below her broad shoulders.  Her body tapered down to a small waist before swelling again into rounded hips.  Her long, flowered skirt was gathered up away from the water and slung over her tanned arm.

Her legs were similarly tanned, and glistened in the morning sun from the splashed water droplets that clung to her golden skin.

   “Nice morning, isn’t it?” I said, hoping to engage her in some conversation.  She didn’t even look up.  She just put a finger to her lips that she puckered into the “sh-sh” form.  I sat on a park bench on the perimeter of the pool and remained silent, content to watch the graceful – and fascinating – woman while I enjoyed the musical song of the many tropical birds that inhabited the surrounding foliage.

Suddenly the natural sounds were disturbed by the approach of a large, white Mercedes sedan.  It stopped abreast of the park and two men exited the car and walked quickly toward the woman.  She did not acknowledge them.  They spoke softly to her.  She did not respond, but moved away from the side of the pool where they were, and closer to me.  One of the men hurried around the perimeter of the pool toward the woman while the other stepped into the pool with his highly polished shoes on, soaking the neatly pressed pants of his expensive, midnight blue suit.  He sloshed across the pool to the woman.

They carefully took hold of the woman’s arms, one on each side, all the time speaking to her gently and too softly to be heard.  They gingerly led her out of the pool, picked up her sandals from the pool apron and led her to the car.  They opened the rear door and she reluctantly slid in and the door was closed.  As the two men entered the front seats, she looked at me for the first time.  As the Large, white Mercedes pulled slowly away, she looked at me for the first time and mouthed the words “Help me”, and was gone.

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