As I emerged from the pub I felt that I was in an exalted state. Our beautiful river, which flowed majestically past the bank near the riverside road, only served to heighten my mood.
I walked over to the safety ledge and stood on it to survey the vast expanse of water covered by the myriad of reflecting mirrors formed by the ripples. The way I felt at that moment I knew, with firm conviction, that I could fly over it.
Earlier that morning I had made a well received presentation to the steering committee. My staff had also arranged a small gathering to express their appreciation of my management style. Then a girl passing me in the passage said that I looked like Yehudi Menhuin.
That was not the last exciting event. On the way home I had dropped in at a pub. There I saw a great big hulk of a man, an oaf, cornering and groping at some of the women there.. He must have stumbled up to me because I began to smell his beery breath and hear his drunken growl. It sounded like:
"Whad ya gonna do bout it?"
I did my best to ignore him but he persisted in harassing me. Eventually he grabbed me by the front of my shirt and lifted me up from my stool. What he did not know was that that I had undergone 18 months of special services training.
All I had to do to drop him was to hit him on that major nerve column that runs down ones neck.
I paid the bar tender, stepped over the supine body and walked out. What a wonderful day it had been. Here I was. 28 years old. On an emotional high. At that moment I was convinced that if I jumped, I would be able to fly. Over all the yachts and cargo boats and come back again.
But something made me turn around. It was a sound that made me do it. I think that my enhanced awareness had made me see a blip on my spiritual radar screen. What I saw was a huddled figure sitting on bench. Although it was late she had no jacket. A back pack laid at her feet.
I was drawn to her. Irresistibly. I could not help but go over to her and sit down, without word, next to her. Finally I said a few words. Very calmly. Almost to myself.
" Hi I'm Bardo. I saw you sitting here and I could not help it. I had to come and join you."
There was no response.
"Really no one asked me to do this. I just did it. By the way, I'm 28. I'm a Yehudi look alike."
"Look I'm not just your average guy. A little while ago I stood on that parapet feeling sure that I could fly. Do you know why I didn't do it? Because I suddenly felt that you were here."
"So here I am. Bardo at your service."
I thought that I had heard a muffled sound from somewhere in the hunched bundle.
"What was that? Come again. What did you say?"
As she mumbled again I could vaguely make out her words.
I was nonplussed.
"D'you mean I must look in ....."
"Yes. Just take a look."
I picked up the bag and undid the Velco straps. What I found was a mess. Some underwear, a crumpled blouse, a pair of shoes and some lipstick.
"What the hell is this? It's not for trekking, it's not for the office and it's not for visiting."
At that moment she looked up at me. That's when I saw a real mess. Tousled hair, red nose and eyes, streaks down her face and all her lipstick smudged.
To be fair to her, she was, behind the ruffled facade, a good looking girl of about 25. Not a pretty picture but there were possibilities.
She almost spat the words at me.
"So what do you take when you come home early and find .....your husband in bed with your sister?"
Her pain and agony stabbed me like a mediaeval pike. Her anguish became mine for a split second.
"O God. Not your sister. Surely not. Is this true?"
Her eyes became blazing fires and her fists were clenched.
"Yesss. Yesss. My darling bitch of a sister let it happen. That's why I'm here."
"Wait. Hold it. But don't get me wrong. There are dozens of free and easy women around for your husband if he's that way inclined. Why your sister? Of all people?"
She spat the words at me. Man she was angry.
"This is what you get when your sister sits at home...my home by the way...and watches soapies all day long."
"So, what's wrong with soapies?"
"What? Do you like them?"
"Yeea. About once in every 3 months. They always seem the same as they were before."
‘They can't change. There is no story. It's all about a father sleeping with his son's wife, the mother sleeping with the handyman and the daughter sleeping with her best friend's husband."
"So what happens. My husband doesn't go to work every day and boom ... my life becomes a soap opera."
Then her eyes softened and she held her hands to her mouth. She looked totally lost and forlorn for the moment. Here I was on top of the world and there she was in the gutter of despair.
‘O God, tell me. Would you do that if you had the chance. Please say no."
"Hell girl, you can forget that. I have two sisters and they are the greatest buddies. Our family ties are absolutely sacred."
Her lips quivered,
"Thank you for saying that. You don't know what it means to me right now."
I gave her a comforting smile.
"Hey, when will you get the rest of your stuff?"
She stared at some distant point on the other side of the river.
"When I'm ready. But when I do I'll cancel the lease. They can camp out on the street for all I care."
"When you go would you like me to go with you?"
"Would you? I'd be grateful to you. I wouldn't want to go in there alone ... but wait, where will you find the time. Are you unemployed as well?"
I couldn't help laughing. My mirth must have been infectious because she began to smile as well.
"Did I say something wrong?"
"Hey, I'll tell you later. Come on. Get up. Let's go and eat. We can't talk on empty stomaches."
"And what's your name by the way?"
"Come Zastri. Let's go."