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Stalking the Average Man


-Father? | the woman placidly said, looking at the elder sitting on her right.
Sadly, the old man said to the traveler, -I think her inaction allowed the circumstance to
become dangerous so that she could justify leaving. She was young, and she abandoned her
responsibilities with the knowledge this would ultimately help him and free her. In this way, she
could feel sacrificially superior to anyone who might judge her. | He looked at the other elder
apologetically. -I have trouble reconciling her claim of being patient, then leaving him from fear. |
He turned to face the stranger. -People who are patient and fearful are deceitful; they become
actors who charge admission to their good humor, and when enough people recognize their game
they move the show to a new stage. | His gaze lingered upon the stranger, as he addressed the
gathering in general, -Our daughter‘s sweetness is a performance to be sure, but it is not deceitful
for she has nothing to fear. For her, | he looked her way, -it is the most efficient way to conduct her
affairs. | He faced the stranger. -Do you think you did the proper thing by leaving? |
Although grateful for their hospitality, the traveler was disarmed by the unusual candor of a
communal conversation, and strangely disoriented by the slick responses that naturally came to his
mind. Wisely, he said the insights he had just been so graciously offered were new to him, and he
needed to think about it.
-We know this is a difficult question, | the elders said obligingly, in unison.
The gathering nodded in concurrence, but their collective gaze did not waver from the
stranger: -Take all of the time you need, | their expressions conveyed. -We‘ll wait until you‘re
ready. |
Ironically, by trying to incorporate both elder‘s views, to justify his uncertainty, the stranger
realized personal events had gone too far because he had avoided doing anything about them; a
fresh start became his best option. This is what he told the gathering.
-We all made that choice one way, or another, | a young wife said, spreading her arms to
encompass the abundance of fresh food, a glorious day, and the implied invitation for the traveler
to make a new home.
Three twangs on the lute saved him from having to decide in that moment, which seemed to
be the design of their conversation. This wasn‘t all good, because the notes gave rise to a story
about a silver-tongued stranger‘s arrival at a harvest celebration on the cusp of a change of seasons.
Beneath the compliment of her attraction on display, this worried him because minstrels were the
custodians of history, and his unremarkable journey might be heard in lands ahead of his arrival...
I set the pages down, as Bonnie returned to our table.
-Well? | she said.
The lack of names and obvious effort to entice the stranger made it easier to deal with the
subtext of the scene, as per her request to look between the lines.
-Your theme seems to be that there are times when doing nothing is best, and that offering
help can be premature. | I glanced down. -Reviewing the past is also important to understand what
to do the next time around, because things might not be what they seemed to be at the time. For
that matter, things might not be what they appear to be in the moment. |
-I know it‘s choppy, | she said, acknowledging that I had avoided commenting on the quality
of her work.
-Why did these people plot to help the guy? |
-To have him realize he had arrived at a place he didn‘t know he was looking for. | Her gaze
lingered on me, before she said, -As for these people? | She dipped her head in anticipation.
-The woman is Aleena grown up? | I said.
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