Across Continents

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Batteries included

Late forties. Maybe early fifties. Fellow cyclist also heading for Florida, albeit a far lesser pace than mine. Funding his travels by buying up used watch batteries from shops and then selling them on to a dealer. Presumably, I thought, to extract the silver or other precious metals from them. But I was reluctant to enquire further. He’d offered to show me the ropes and I’d already struggled to decline without offending.

He was staying in the dorm next to mine in a travellers hostel in Austin, Texas. Friendly enough, he’d invited me to join him at a local church on Christmas Day. I’d declined. Once more. There was dinner to prepare, I’d explained apologetically.

He intrigued me. Never saw him without a jacket of sorts on, even indoors. Sometimes a black quilted affair, often a bright safety vest. And the hats. Either a thin black woollen one, or a bright red Peruvian. Torn between whether this was to mask baldness or an ill-judged grasp at youthfulness. Eager to play chess with the unwary. I’d declined. Again.

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