By Judy Fraher. 

“Don’t know where this is leading, I have to go in blind. Isn’t that what faith is all about? Oh yeah, isn’t that what faith is all about.”

Headphones went crashing against the wall, falling with a loud thump to the floor.

The sound crew behind the glass stared at the man in the recording studio. His fists swung out toppling microphone stands while the microphones ricocheted and landed in a jumbled mess. Like a caged animal, he paced back and forth, and finally, he stopped. Arms slung down by his sides, long bangs hanging in his face, he slowly raised his head and looked back at the crew through the window. With a half-growl, he spun and grabbed the door handle of the studio door, opening it. Without a backward glance, he hurtled down the hall.

The perfectly gorgeous summer day did not penetrate the red haze swimming through his brain. He stalked through the narrow streets of the foreign city seeing no one, caring nothing for the sights that drew hordes of tourists to catch the beauty.

His anger began to ebb, but he walked on, muttering. “Stupid song, stupid, stupid, stupid.”

He plopped down on a bench, dropping his head in his hands. He slowly came to the realization he was sitting in a park. Dropping his hands, he looked around. Mothers pushed their babies in strollers, businessmen were congregated around a fountain  reading their newspapers, and over to his left he saw a trio of young women sunbathing topless. He watched them for a while.

His tongue flicked out to wet his lips. He was parched. He stood up and walked down the gravel path. As he passed by the young women, he openly stared, but they did not look at him. Shrugging inwardly, he continued walking. Out towards the avenue, he spied a small café. He would get a beverage there.

Wearily, he sat at the café table, cute in its small size, wrought iron chairs and glass top. A waiter came over and he ordered in flawless French. It did not take long for the waiter to come back with his espresso.

He stretched out his denim-clad legs and sighed. He knew he had just behaved badly, there was no excuse but he tried to think of one anyway. He was frustrated, that was it, he thought. He was an American rocker and they had him trying to create a country bible song. Feeling himself tense up again, he lifted the espresso to his lips.

His elbow was bumped. “Damn,” he swore as the cup hit his lip and some espresso spilled out on his tee shirt.

He turned to swear at the person who hit his elbow but stopped mid-sentence. A young woman stood by his side, a very pretty young woman, slim, long brown hair, but it was her face that captured his attention, high cheek bones in a heart-shaped face. He would have loved to see her eyes, but they were hidden behind very black sunglasses.

“Excuse me, sir, I’m so sorry,” she said and she started wiping at his tee shirt with a napkin.

“Stop that,” he said. He grabbed her hand in his own and was taken aback by the rush of feeling that went through him at just that small touch.

She drew her hand back. “I’m sorry.”

“You already said that,” he replied angrily.

She hovered by the table.

He looked up at her. “What?” he asked.

A slight smile lit up her face. “May I buy you a new drink?”

“No,” he grumbled.

He watched her pull out the other chair and slide gracefully in. A waiter immediately came over and she ordered two more espressos.

He sat in silence, hoping to make her uncomfortable. Unfazed, she sat, one hand crossed over the other, leaning in towards him.

She sniffed. “I like that aftershave you use. I smelled it when you went by me in the park.”

He stared at her. “When I went by you….?” It dawned on him. “Were you one of the topless girls?”

She nodded.

“Do you do that often?” he asked.

She nodded again. “Yes, I have today off and met my friends who work close by.” She paused, staring at him through the dark glasses. “It’s accepted here, you know. It’s not uncommon to find many women bathing topless, even eighty year olds.”

He grimaced. She continued talking.

“So, Mr. American, why are you here?”

He didn’t question why she knew he was American. After all, his tee shirt had a big American eagle on it.

“I’m cutting a record deal,” he muttered.

“I bet you sing nicely, you have a deep voice.” She shook her head. “But I mean why are you here in this café?”

He scowled. “Dumb question. I’m thirsty.”

She smiled back. “But why this café? What brought you here?”

He sat back flabbergasted. What was she trying to get out of him? Was she a reporter and everything he said would be blasted across some gossip magazine?

“I don’t need to tell you that,” he said.

Again a smile. “No, you don’t need to tell me, but I think you want to tell me.”

Was she some nut?

His thoughts were interrupted by the waiter bringing their espressos.

“I know, it’s because you wanted to enjoy such a beautiful day? That’s what brought you to this café, right?” she asked, a dimple deepening in her cheek as she smiled.

“Oh, is it beautiful?” he sarcastically asked. He meant to add the sarcasm.

She ignored him. “Oh yes, look around. Life is buzzing all around you, and that is a good thing.”

He took a sip of his espresso. Was this girl for real ?

“Life isn’t all that wonderful, Miss Pollyanna. Have you really seen it? What about the poverty a couple of streets over? What about the terrorism going on in this city? People struggle everyday.”

She nodded and placed her hand on his. That thrill went through him again.

“Yes they do. Just like you are struggling, I think, with something.”

He slid his hand out from beneath hers. “You apparently haven’t had to struggle in your life. I’m happy for you. But I’ve got to get back and write a stupid song.” He leaped up from his chair.

She giggled and he stopped, mid-track and looked at her, really looked at her. Her beauty shone out at him and something started to warm up inside of him.

She stood up too. He watched as she reached for her sunglasses and removed them. Her eyes were milky white.

“You’re blind!” he squeaked out. “But, how .. how did you know to find me?”

“I followed your aftershave.” She frowned. “I could sense you were upset. I just wanted to help.”

A taxi screeched to a halt at the curb.

“Well, my ride is here. Thank you for the enchanting afternoon.”

Without hesitation she turned and walked to the taxi. The driver opened the back door for her and she scooted in.

“Wait,” he yelled. “I didn’t catch your name! Can I meet you again? What’s your name?!”

Leaning her head out the window, she laughed . “It’s Faith.”

She pulled her head back in and the taxicab pulled away from the curb.

Photo by Erica Zabowski.

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