Lorraine Mc Guinness
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A Strange Encounter

Part 1

Minding my own business, I proceeded down the long path. Hands in my pockets, to keep them from the cold, I walked with a mission towards the bus stop. It was a typical winter's day and I, being the "diligent" human being, forgot my winter clothes. I justified this mistake by saying: "It was warm and bright this morning," even though it was the middle of September.

I reached the bus stop, finally, and stood against the wall. Where I live, the bus stop is only a pole in the pavement with no shelter to keep you warm. Blowing into my hands to keep them warm, a man stood opposite me. Up to this point, I did not notice him, but kept an eye out when I did.

He, too, kept his head down, his chin ruffled inside his jacket collar, his hands inside his pockets, and his legs clearly shaking from the cold. I looked around me and nobody else was there, which was strange considering the time of day.

I kept looking at him curiously. He raised his eyes to me slowly and I stepped back, startled. I recognised those eyes. I recognised who it was.

Taking a deep breath, I took a step towards him. I did not anticipate his next move. He ran towards me and embraced me warmly. "Emily," he whispered. "I’ve missed you." Dumbfounded, I remained still, letting him embrace me tightly. I ended up missing my bus, much to the delight of my frostbitten hands.

His embrace would not loosen and it appeared that he was clinging to my body for warmth. As I waited for him, I looked at his clothing. It was tatty, torn, and looked like it needed a wash. His shoes had holes and his jeans were in shambles. Pulling him away, I gazed into his eyes. "What happened to you?" I asked politely, although curious on how he got to this position.

Four years ago, we were engaged to be married, until something stopped us. If I remember, he found a younger, more attractive woman and so left me three weeks before our wedding. I was heartbroken. Now, looking at him, I felt nothing but pity. How did he end up in such a way?

After I asked the question, he stepped back, ashamed. I knew that I hit a nerve, but if he wanted help I needed to know the truth. "Jack, please tell me," I pleaded.

I remembered that I had a pair of gloves and handed them to him to keep his hands warm. He gladly took them. He glanced toward me but kept his head down. He didn’t answer my question, but I wasn’t going anywhere until he provided me with the truth.

Sighing loudly, he put down his hood. Ruffling his hands through his hair, he bit his bottom lip. "Promise me that you will never speak of this to anyone." I looked at him and nodded. If I needed to promise for him to tell me the truth, then I was prepared to do anything.

I sat down on the ground—possibly not the best idea at the time—and gestured for him to do the same. He shook his head and placed his hands into the tattered jean pockets. "So, what happened?" I asked him again, this time eager to hear what he had to say. Sighing loudly once again, he glanced over his shoulders. I thought that a little strange since there were only the two of us at the bus stop.

He proceeded regardless: "After we parted ways, I found myself in London. Sarah brought me to the apartment that she had there and we lived together for about three months." He paused. To tell the truth, I was glad, for I did not feel comfortable hearing about his lover. "During those months, I was living off her. I could not find a job and I needed the money. Little did I know that she was the daughter of one of the gang lords in the city..." What are the chances of him leaving me for the godfather’s daughter? One million to one.

He paused again. There was silence for at least two minutes. Anxious now, I rose from the ground and went towards him. I placed my hands on his arms for support and smiled: "Whatever it is, surely it isn’t that bad?" What he said next left me feeling guilty for that remark. He slowly raised his head and stared at me. His eyes were blank. "He found out."

At first, I did not see this as a "big" deal, since Jack was a big man himself. In fact, he continuously boasted about his achievements in the Army and his Black Belt in Karate while we were together. Surely, this would not faze him?

We stood together motionless, until a loud bark broke the silence. "So, why are you here?" I asked him bluntly. To be honest, he could have chosen anyone to turn to for help—anyone but me. I had my own problems: "I thought you could help me? I thought that you would make this all right again," he justified.

"Jack, all I know is that ‘He found out’ and now you are here looking like shit," I again told him bluntly. "I am finding it hard to understand how that would make you leave the country. You worked in the Army, you are a Black Belt in Karate…" I paused. "Unless that was all a lie?" My heart sank as I said those last words. If all he told me wasn’t the truth, then why was I to believe him now?

He looked at me earnestly. "Emily…" he whispered, taking hold of my hands: "I swear that I am telling the truth. This man is dangerous. He and I clashed heads… literally." I took a step back as I inhaled loudly. "You don’t mean that you killed him?" I gulped, pulling my hands away. Now, I knew why he came to me. He knew of what I did before. What I can do again to help.

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