Statia de autobus de pe Strada Dobrescu

The Bus stop on Dobrescu Street

For years and years and years, I have spent all day, everyday, in a tiny newspaper stand near the bus stop on Dobrescu Street. Freezing cold in winter, sweltering heat in summer, dawn to dusk, I sit. On a good day, I sell a few papers and magazines, enough to get by, yes? Mostly, though, I sit and watch the people come and go.

One spring, a young woman, started coming to the bus stop. Yes, long legs, black hair, dark, smoldering eyes – no different than hundreds of others. But, she never got on, or off, the bus. She would stand there, while others milled about; sometimes for five minutes, sometimes for twenty. Eventually, her patience was rewarded by a silver car; she would get in and she and her par amour would drive off.

The same car, always driven by the same man, was a rental; so he was a foreigner. I would wonder what would attract such a woman to such a man. She, the product of a rich history, and at the same time, a prisoner of its poverty. He, a man of some wealth, or more likely, of a rich foreign company; here for a time, and then gone. Leaving a trail of fast living, hard currency and many broken promises.

One day, while waiting, she happened to glance in my direction. Since I found her so fascinating, she caught me looking at her. I smiled and nodded my head. She smiled back. I motioned with my hand, come closer.

“He is late today, no?”

“Oh, you know?”

“But, of course. Many times a week, for what, a month now? You come, he comes, you get in his silver car, and you go.”

“Yes, you know.”

“Pardon me, miss, but this foreigner is special, no?”

Those eyes, those deep, dark, smoldering orbs answered without words.

“But, does he love you?” The question simple, yet not.

“You have seen much.”

“Yes, much; but, much to learn.”

“And wise.”

“You are too kind. He comes.”

“Merci.”

“La revedere.”

+++

“Miss, many times you come; but, he comes not.”

“He is in my heart.”

“But, a foreigner; you knew he would leave, yes?”

Her eyes looked at me, but did not see me.

“Could you not believe he would use you and throw you away? You were just a convenience for him. It happens all the time. You silly girl.”

Her eyes, those twin pools of the darkest chocolate brown, somehow got smaller.

“He gave me so much, he lives in my heart.”

“And what did he give you? You are pregnant?”

“No, old man!” she laughed scornfully.

“But what?”

“Let me tell you,” she began.

“We met at the hotel where I was working. He asked to participate in the hotel tour of the city, I told him we didn’t have enough guests. He said that was ok, he would go out on his own, a kind of sa-nook, he said.”

“Sa, what?”

“’Sa-nook’ is a Thai word that means to walk around without any other purpose, like the Australian Aborigine ‘walk-about.’”

“You know something of the Aborigines, do you?” the old man said with a glimmer in his eyes.

She reached over and playfully slapped him in the arm, “Don’t be silly. Anyway, I saw him later and asked him how his ‘sa-nook’ went. And he said, ‘Quite well, but it would have been better with a guide.’”

“Of course!” said the old man, “I can see it coming: seduction!”

“Sorry, no such luck.” She paused, then continued.

“After several dates, I finally made the first move. He was so fascinating, handsome, polite, always a gentleman, a philosopher, too!”

“Imagine!”

“You’re laughing at me!”

“Perhaps a little; you tell a good story.”

“Yes, well, he was – I mean is – a wonderful man.”

“So, you tried to seduce him?”

“But of course! I was in love.”

“And what did he do?”

“Get those thoughts out of your mind you dirty old man!”

“I won’t, but please continue.”

“He put me off and put me off. Finally, one day I asked him if he liked me. He said it was more than like.”

“Ah! he was in love with you; but, he wouldn’t touch you? How strange.”

“Let me finish!”

“Sorry.”

“So he said, What if he came to the hotel unable to speak. What if he used sign language and wrote everything down on a pad of paper. I might wonder what happened to him, or how life was, not being able to speak. But, I would know, absolutely, he wasn’t an opera singer – maybe “signer,” but not singer.”

“A sense of humor; a man who can laugh at himself. Truly a good man.”

“Yes; but, I didn’t understand. You can speak, I said. That’s true, he said, but I was trying to get him into bed, not speak. I still did not understand. Am I boring you, old man?”

“No my dear. I am not asleep. I have my eyes closed to try to understand. Why this attractive man, who is attracted to you won’t touch you. Religion? Was he married?”

“Yes, he was, twice. But that was not the problem.”

“Oh! no morals, then; but, he wouldn’t….”

“He said to me, “Smokie” – he called me that – “there are some scars I earned in the military that are not easily seen.”

“A military man, scars, injured; but, how would that…oh.”

“Yes, he was injured and couldn’t perform. He asked me if we could still be friends, now that I knew. ‘Of course,’ I said, ‘how silly.’ But the look on his face told me he doubted me.”

“Any man would, even one as wonderful as him.”

“But why? I loved him. I still love him.”

“Because, what is a man who can not satisfy a woman? Only part of a man.”

“You are so wrong, old man.”

“You called me wise five minutes ago.”

“I said wise, not smart.” She was smiling.

“So you did young one, more tea?”

“Te rog.”

“Continua.”

“I said we needed a weekend – two days – to see some sights; could he break away? ‘Yes, he could. He needed to inform his clients; but, it should be no problem.”

“What did you show him? Hasdeu? Targoviste? Peles? Cernica?”

“I arranged a tour of Curtea de Arges, Sibiu, and Brasov.”

“Excellent. You know your country. I am proud of you, young one.”

She blushed.

“So, the night you shared on your trip, separate rooms, no doubt.”

“No, old man.”

“No? I can’t believe you.”

“Believe.”

“But how?”

“I told him that since I was showing him places in my country, maybe he could show me emotional places I did not know.”

“And he said?”

“He said he would try.”

“And that night?”

“Patience.”

“But I cannot! An older man, unable to perform, weaves a spell on such a beautiful young woman.”

“Yes, he was magical.” Her eyes betrayed her momentary departure from that kiosk.

“Come back, young one, come back.”

“I am here.”

“Well? I am an old man, as you keep pointing out; I will not live till the end of your story.”

“But you already know the end.”

“I do not!”

“I come to this bus stop, and he never shows.”

“Yes, but….”

“He was killed in an airplane accident.”

“I’m so sorry. I am such an old fool. Please forgive me; how can you forgive me?”

“He would tell me there was nothing to forgive, and I agree with him. Because he taught me love, I cannot——“

“Perhaps you have shared enough with an old fool. Thank you for your patience.”

“May I continue?”

“Can you? Do you want to? It must hurt to speak of such private things of a man who has touched your heart.”

“That night we shared, we stayed in a country inn. Not a fancy room; but clean, and warm and cozy. The bath down the hall was not very romantic; but, we can’t have everything. He asked me if I wanted to have dinner – we really hadn’t had a decent meal all day. I said I just wanted to be with him. He said an empty stomach was best. ‘Best for what?’ I asked. ‘Best for magic,’ he said. Maybe I would like to take a bath, he suggested. Yes, all day with hundreds of other people looking at old buildings. I remembered when we checked in that the proprietor said we were the only guests that night. I suggested that we take a bath together. He said, ‘No, the magic would be better with a little suspense.’ I was dying!”

“He weaves a clever web, doesn’t he?”

“Oh, you cannot know! His hands, his lips, his touch, his caress. He knew exactly where to touch, and when and how. I would go from fire to jelly. I would plead for him to stop, I would plead for him to never stop. For hours and hours.”

“You said he couldn’t perform?”

“Not that way. But he could make magic with his hands and his lips. Old man, to be in bed with such a lover, you cannot know. I would reach the mountain top and he would bring me gently down. And he would take me to another, higher and higher. And bring me down. All night. By the time the sun rose, I was exhausted.”

“And you had not touched him? Are you sure he was a man, a real man? Surely you are telling me of a dream?”

“You have seen him, his car – is that a dream?”

“Ah, no.”

“He was real, and he was whole. When I came back from my bath, he went for his. He told me to lie on the bed and not move. He came back, and took off his robe. My god! old man! the body of a god, a man-god, not a boy-god. He started to massage my feet, then he worked up my legs. He was very proper, a professional massager meus sus. Up my back, my shoulders, arms, neck, head.” She sighed.

“Miss? Hello?”

“Then he said, ‘Turn over,’ for I had been on my stomach.”

“Yes, then?”

“Then he started kissing me – head to toe – he missed nothing.”

“You say too much.”

“I say nothing. Everytime I moved to touch him, hold him, he gently pushed my hands away. ‘Enjoy,’ he said, ‘this is my gift to you.’ But, I could not! I was on fire!”

“Yes, of course. I can imagine.”

“When the sun rose, I was in his arms. He cradled me as a father would cradle his baby.”

“And so you were.”

“Yes. As I opened my eyes, I saw him looking at me. ‘You made love to me,’ I said, ‘and I did nothing but fall asleep.’ ‘Thank you,’ he said.”

“He asked nothing of you? Surely you could do something to satisfy him?”

“What would you have me do, old man?”

“I do not know; I am not that wise.”

+++

“So what did he give you?”

“Himself.”

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