The park had got more enticing on Monday. That day Samuel observed a new face – a beautiful woman doing warm-up stretches. Impulsively, he cautioned her about the dangers of straining her calf muscles and illustrated what he considered proper technique. She watched him silently for a moment, but he couldn’t gauge what her eyes expressed. She knew this as well - abruptly she trotted off to do ten laps around the circular track. He realized then that she was no novice and, by the following evening, that he was infatuated with her. Her legs were smooth and firm and her skin was the colour of burnt sugar. He desperately wanted to confirm that her sweat tasted as sweet as she looked.
Today, as his final lap ended he slowed to a halt. She always got there while he was on his last lap, which he relished. He’d unwind with a cold Gatorade as he watched his burnt-sugar woman run until she dewed.
As he watched her stroll in, his fingers began to itch. His heart pounded as his buddy poked his inner thigh, encouraging him to take a chance. He stood up.
Fixing his clothes, he tried to coax his tongue to untie itself. He saw her heading southward, so he followed. Closer and closer he drew until a large woman screeched, “Dutty boy, you don’t see a woman bathroom dis? Take ‘way yourself!”
Quickly, he stepped away from the entrance of the lavatory and walked until he found a bench that was not in plain view. As he scratched his head and neck, he gradually got hold of his wits. Faint heart never won fair lady. And just like that, he saw her - his fair lady. She was kissing a seated Rastafarian vendor on the nose. Samuel blinked. Next she surprised the security at the front with a warm hug and following up, she tenderly stroked an old beggar woman’s soiled scarf-wrapped head and gave her a warm hug and a kiss. These folk were regulars at the park whom he’d never seen her acknowledge.
Puzzled, he watched her from afar. She sat down on the bench near to the jogging trail and began to laugh loudly. She guffawed until she started to choke. Then she rubbed behind her head. The laughter stopped to make way for a steady stream of tears.
As he sat watching her cry miserably after only just heartily laughing, he became convinced she was insane. Not because of all that had happened in the space of five minutes but because four persons in white uniforms had appeared on the scene, along with a harried, grey-haired woman who looked a lot like the young woman. The nurses grabbed her arms and led her out of the park into an ambulance. He felt a pain and looked down; his fingers were stiff from gripping the bench rails.
Time passed as he sat without moving. His buttocks and thighs burned while small waves formed in his stomach, crashing violently near his throat. He went back to where his belongings were and packed his things. He headed for the entrance of the park then stopped and looked back at the track. It gleamed as the park lights shone on its red-clay brilliance. It seemed as if the puddles of sweat he was used to seeing now twinkled like fallen stars. Feeling sick, he turned on his heel. Everyone was sweating; the park had all at once become a smelly den, a jungle of animals.
He rushed home to have a bath.