“Did that guy just check you out?”
“Who?” I asked. It was a cool Saturday – high 60s, sunny, not much breeze – and we were lounging on a park bench in Boston’s Public Garden.
“That guy that just walked by.”
The gentleman in question: early fifties, Mediterranean complexion, expensive gray suit and a fat wristwatch. He passed by our bench to join a similar man and a boy younger than me (his son?) two benches down.
“No, he’s a bodyguard,” I replied glibly. “Just making sure I’m not a threat.”
“You’re kidding me.”
“No, you see how he sits on a different bench than the rest of the party? That’s the principal; he’s the bodyguard.”
“This is you doing your whole ‘I wish I were a spy’ thing.”
# # #
“I love cities,” I said later. We had an excellent view of the Boston skyline above the trees. “I took the train to Baltimore about a month ago. It passed through New York, on this big sweeping arc that skirts the island before taking you underground to Penn Station. So we got this extended view of the Manhattan skyline. It overwhelmed me for a second.”
“I could never live in a city that big. People everywhere, buildings blotting out the sky.”
“That’s the point,” I insisted.
# # #
Bagpipes struck up from the other end of the garden. A piper led a procession along the asphalt path, winding through the Garden to a secluded copse of trees eighty yards away. The piper returned a few minutes later, talking with one of the wedding party about his work in a genuine Scottish burr. “Did a show up in Dedham recently,” he was saying.
Twenty minutes later, the piper came back the same way, this time leading the bridal party.
“That’s a bit of a wait between entrances, isn’t it?” I observed.
“It’s the guy!”
“The one who was checking you out.” The Mediterranean fifty-year-old supports the arm of his tanned daughter, beaming in her white dress.
“So he wasn’t checking me out,” I explained, “and he wasn’t a bodyguard. He was making sure we wouldn’t get in the way.”
Sure enough, the bridal party passes within six feet of us, sitting on our bench just off the path. If my legs had been splayed out – the way they often are when I get comfy on a park bench – the procession would have had to arc a little to avoid me.
# # #
A couple in their late forties, healthy weight around their midsection, tumbled into a cuddle on a hollow in the lawn. The woman rested her head on her husband’s chest; he languidly stroked her bare arm. Soon the two of them were kissing, then making out passionately, legs thrown over each other. It was a pleasant Saturday in downtown Boston; probably one hundred people passed them every ten minutes.
The wedding continued about fifty feet away. All part of the circle of life.
# # #
“Every now and then you poke your head out of your shell.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Very rarely. And it takes so much work.”
“I’m proud of my mask,” I said. “I put a lot of effort into making it.”
# # #
We took a detour as we exit the Public Gardens, finding a statue on a pillar in an empty fountain. Trees in bloom surrounded it, blocking out the sunlight as thoroughly as the New York skyline. The statue atop the pillar was Morpheus, god of sleep, cradling a dying child in his arms.
The inscription on one face of the pillar read: In gratitude for the relief of human suffering by the inhaling of ether a citizen of Boston has erected this monument A.D. MDCCCLXVII.
On another face, it reads: Neither shall there be any more pain – Rev..
“This is my favorite statue in the garden. I always try to look for it every time I’m here.”
I didn’t say that. For a while, I didn’t say anything.