He took her by the arm.
“I am tired. Let us down for a while,” she complained and indicated the cement flower bed along the pavement.
“Thus,” the bow-tied man continued heading for the flower bed but still addressing the policeman who followed them, “attention would focus on about six districts.” In your car you must have a map of the city. This means that we must make not more than six phone calls.”
“Yes,” the policeman agreed.
“Oh-oh, I’ll be cold here!” The old lady touched the rim of the flower bed with the tips of her fingers.
“I hope you have radiotransmitter in your car,” the man went on.
“I can’t sit here,” the old lady repeated softly.
“The man spread out his raincoat and tenderly helped her sit down. She clutched the book with both hands at her chest.
“You seem to be friends or relatives?” asked the policeman.
”It remains for you bring the map,” the man with bow-tie responded with a non-committal raising of his eyebrows slightly turning his head so that the old lady would not see him.
The sergeant turned towards his boss who was squatting and examining the crumpled front of the Fiat, hesitated a bit but made for it. The old lady kept for a second the hand of the man with bow-tie and touched her cheek with it.
“Now they’ll come quickly.”
“Especially if they have a car.” He looked at the mountain’s shadow over the town. “You live somewhere there; that’s where you came from,” she added somewhat bitterly.
“There’s plenty of time, the police is never in a hurry, the old lady said soothingly.
“We’ll make that call!” the sergeant was waving with one hand from the patrol jeep and the other he clutched a microphone.
“I’m thinking whether it would be...” the old lady looked up at the man and in her fear the difference between her eyes, regardless of the missing diopter, seemed to melt. “I fear that as we don’t remember...” she added failteringly, “whether we aren’t someones else. Confused identity cases, you know. Mutually confused... You realize? Perhaps another man and another women also had a date at then bench and you took me for the other one, as I might have taken you for another. Or one of us could have died and so other’s ‘she’ dates the other ‘he’.”
“Oh, rubbish! I do remember, you know.” He playfully looked at her and gently stroked her neck.
“Maybe, as both of us remember Pepina...”
“Gabby,” he corrected her.
“Well, the circus actress.”
“She was a singer and her name was Cabby.”
“We’ve finally got in touch! She’s been found!” The policeman yelled from the car and added something but the taxi moved off and the rest of his remark was drowned in the noise of the engine.
“This may be our last time together,” the man put a hand on her shoulder.
“Why?!” the old lady looked up in amazement.
“Welll...” he turned away his head.
“Another woman!?” the old lady stood up and the raincoat slipped to the ground. “Another!?” In her voice mingled pain and bits of hope.
“Nnno...” he replied self-consciously.
“Her son is coming, They had declared her a missing person!” the policeman again shouted.
“And then fellow managed to start his engine; there has been no serious damage” and the man indicated the Fiat. “There could have been a more serious damage.”
“You have another woman! The old lady paled and sat down. “And you won’t be coming for another five years!”
The man bend down and picked up the raincoat. The old lady followed his movements with her eyes but couldn’t summon the strength to apologize.
“You might not be coming for another ten years even! I can stand it no more! Waiting for you for five years on that confounded bench!” The old lady banged her first on the flower bed.
“You...” the man did not know how to finish his sentence. “You...” he sat down on the concrete next to her, crushed a violet, moved aside, plucked it and handed it to her. “This time I forgot to pick some white lilac for you.”
The old lady took the flower but her head remained bent down.
“I think you would not be able to come next time,” the man finally said, watching her profile.
“Who!? Me!?” The old lady turned inamazement and hope flickered again in her eyes, somehow evenly, despite the missing glance. “Aren’t you deceiving me?”
“No, I’m not.”
“I haven’t come only a few times!”
“You won’t be able to make it.” The man poked the road surface with the tip of his shoe.
“I have no illness, no complaints!” Now she was looking at his profile. “What could prevent me from coming!?”
“You were late...”
“What are you talking about?!” she poked him in the ribs and peeped in his face. “I am always late! You forget! But if you object...”
The man raised his head and compelled himself to look her straight in the eye.
“You can get lost again...” he said.
The old lady even stuttered with agitation.
“Only when I start for home!”
“You take a long time to do that, you see,” he spread his hands and pointed at the patrol jeep.
“Oh, but I have always been slow to start for home,” her face beamed, reassured. “I have always been slow to leave you,” she explained bowed her head shyly over the flower and twirled its stalk between her fingers. “Moreover, now I find it easier to cope,” she added and looked at him. “Much, much easier.”
The man turned his head aside and did not answer.
“If only...” the old lady added after a little hesitation.
“There can be no ifs,” the man touched her shoulder.
“If the lilac doesn’t blossom... if something should happen and they don’... then...”
“ The lilac will blossom,” the man was looking into her eyes.
“You are sure?! Is there a...”
“No,” the man firmly replied.
“Newspapers write all sorts of things... On TV they said that...”
The old lady twirled the violet shyly between her fingers and the bluish-yellow slower seemed to come aflame in her hands.
“What a fellow you are!” she said, and smiling, she hid her face bending low.