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Just in case because you never know 0

Dear Bradshaw,

While reading in the park, killing time before my next lesson, I noticed some guy circling the central expanse of grass. He had greasy blonde hair raked over his balding head, black-rimmed glasses with thick lenses, and a dime-sized freckle on his cheek. Holding a small paper bag in one hand, he had his other hand buried inside, fingering beans or birdseed perhaps. I kept expecting him to pull his hand out and sprinkle whatever it was on the ground but he kept his hand in there, holding the bag about chest-high. Meanwhile, I saw his lips moving. He was mumbling to himself while staring straight ahead and fingering whatever was in that bag. I tried to read his lips but I can’t read lips, assuming he was speaking a legitimate language.

Other people were watching, of course, most observing out of the corners of their eyes while talking through the sides of their mouths. But one guy sitting on a bench kept slapping his girlfriend on the knee, laughing and pointing and insisting she stare. I for one didn’t want to attract attention. After all, a person who talks to himself while moving slower than a slug is capable of anything. What was he? A Jain, a Sikh, a Zoroastrian, and if so, what would that have explained? More likely he was a terrorist or a lunatic. Though he was strange in a creepy way, there was something sacred about his behavior. I imagined he could have exploded on the spot or ascended to heaven at the snap of a finger.

His steps were calculated as if fate was forcing his feet to consecrate each spot of ground they touched. Like this he circled the grass once, twice, each time passing inches from where I was sitting. I would hold my breath, expecting a bomb to explode or a pistol to appear, and for this reason, I considered finding another place to sit — just in case because you never know — but I had ten minutes before my next lesson and could either relax in the greenery of the park or stand by the side of a heavily trafficked street and inhale its fumes. I chose to risk the park because the chances of being bombed or shot were much less likely than the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, especially near the crossroads of Via delle Quattro Fontane and Via Quirinale.

I tried to concentrate on what I was reading but kept glancing up to scrutinize this walking anomaly. Was this a joke? Candid Camera? I inspected the surrounding area, glancing into bushes and other inconspicuous areas, searching for evidence of a video camera, but found nothing to suggest subterfuge.

Five minutes later I got up to leave, pleased to be in one piece but also disappointed that I’d never know who that guy was and what his ritual had been about, assuming, of course, it had been about anything at all.

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