February 26, 2008

I can feel in the slowly tiring muscles just how much is left, maybe 2k. The sidewalk curves slightly and out of the corner of my eye I see lips moving, a hand waving, flagging me down. A petite bleached-blonde has just popped out of a cab, and I pull the headphones out of my ears in time to catch… “pour un marathon?”
“What?” I pant. “Pardon?”
She smiles, broad and sincere. “Are you training for a marathon?” she asks. “I see you all the time. You must be very good. Do you run twice a day?”
“No, maybe three or four times a week.” I know what she means. One of my aunts runs 15k a day, and in my mind she’s always running.
“For half an hour?”
“Just under an hour, usually. About 10k.”
“Why, if not for a marathon?”
It pops out, honestly and inadvertently. “I just really like it.”
She looks surprised. “But where can you go? Just up and down the street.”
I nod. “But not always. In the summer I run along the canal.”
She lights up. “Oui, la canal! I just bought, two months ago, this…” She gestures behind her at one of the new condos. “My place, it is in the back and the view of the canal, it is lovely. I cannot wait! Have you lived here long?”
“About ten months. It is lovely.”
She smiles again, extends her hand. “Marie-lynn.”
I shake back. “I will see you on the canal.”
“Bien sur! Salut!” She traipses up the salted stairs in her heels, waving over her shoulder. “We will run! In the spring!”
I wiggle the headphones back in place, pull my toque back down, and keep going.


2 Responses to “Encounter”

  1. Sigmund Freud, Dr. Says:

    One time, when I was a teenager and riding the trains around Europe for a spell, I decided to get down in Vienna and wander around the city. I suppose I must have walked for about twelve hours before I got back on the train and left town; the place just seemed to complicated for me.

    Anyhow, the most interesting guy I met during my half day in the city (since the subject is encounters) was this rather overweight man who was sitting on a bench in a public square and reading a comic book. The man explained to me, despite the face that I spoke no German and he no English, that he needed me to guard the comic while he went somewhere for a few moments. I happily obliged him because if there is one thing I respect the sanctity of it is German language cowboy comics.

    Well, as if the man had some kind of prescience about him, as I sat there I was all of the sudden set upon by a woman dressed in rags who was dragging along by the arm a snotty nosed kid who wasn’t wearing any shirt. They made quite a spectacle. The woman, her child staring at me with a disinterested fixation while she spoke, demanded at first that I give her money; her palm was outstretched in the familiar way.

    I’m sorry I said, I don’t speak German. Immediately she switched to a passable English. I refused her once again. Then the woman demanded the loaf of bread I had on my person and, failing this, the bottle of pop I had. Again I refused. Finally, she hungrily eyed the comic, demanding that I give it to her child. I would not.

    It is not my comic to give, I said; proudly defending my charge. I suppose the overweight man never knew just how close he had come to losing his comic book.

    the end.

  2. flaneur Says:

    Sig – Thanks for sharing. As far as encounters go, yours is more interesting, possibly because it’s in Germany. You should be proud of sticking to your guns.

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