Friday, September 20, 2013

Running is easy when standing still is hard.

Running, first from my left eye and then my right, warm as the night, salty, stinging teardrops. We ran. The ominous sky over Nassau, now painted pitch black, was punctuated by the luminosity of the melancholy moon above. A stark contrast to the light blue and sunny yellow day we had just encountered. We had left our hotel and walked to downtown Nassau. We came to know the length and corners of the small and intricate craft market then travelled to Paradise Island via a glass bottom boat.

The stillness that hung over the hotel should have been a warning sign, but we were oblivious, young tourists. We entered through the hotel's back gateway and walked the length of the pool on the large hopscotch stepping stones, meandered through the lush, wet garden and into the lobby of the hotel.

The first thing that caught my attention was the gleaming, well-polished Soviet Makarov 9MM pistol planted to the left temple of the front desk clerk. Motionless, we stood as if waiting for our paradise to be uninterrupted and this nightmarish flashback to fade like a mirage.

"Hand over all the money", stern but barely audible demanded the portly gunman dressed in all navy blue except for his black mask and shoes.

"Okay, okay. Just please, please don't shoot me", came the faint reply from the skinny attendant, trying not to draw any unnecessary attention to the scene. Our jaws fell open in unison, our eyes widened by surprise. Frozen. We had seen and heard enough in those few seconds to know that we should run.

The initial shock dissipated almost as quickly as our reverse tiptoeing turned into a sprint on the rose marble mosaic floor. Running, back into the familiarity outside these walls, where we had slept the night before. Where we once found solace steeped in magic, now stood mayhem waving a gun.

Paralyzed by paranoia we waited for what must have been an eternity, and at least a mile into safety. We surrounded ourselves with the comfort of the downtown crowd. Happy tourists diving into their meals by the seaside, but somewhere between the dark blue hue of waves and the uncertainty that awaited us, our appetites were substituted by a hunger for home. Home was a mere 454 miles away we thought.

When time had settled we returned reluctantly to the scene of the crime. There was no gun, no lunatic now but I wondered, "How could we feel safe here?", "How could we silence the tremors of our bodies?" We checked the locks, we were bolted in. Still, we huddled most of the night, awake, our bodies together. Minds, alone, still running.

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