Friday, October 29, 2010

Old Diaries - Part II

Menton, France - Google Image

November 8, 1977 - Board train in Florence at 12:15AM.  Change at Pisa.  Ride along beautifully lit Italian-French coastline -- Rapallo, Cannes, Monaco, Nice, and even Menton, which my home town of Mentone, Indiana, is supposedly named after.  In compartment with me are three Greek seamen.  Talk a good part of the night away with the chief of them, the one who speaks English.  All handsome and charming and cheerful.  They are headed for Nice where they have a job of taking someone's yacht to Greece; the chief says I can come with them.  I think of taking up his invitation except that they won't ship out of Nice for three or four days.  [I've regretted not taking that chance of adventure ever since, but I couldn't imagine keeping myself occupied in Nice for that long.]

Reach Barcelona mid-morning.  I'm starved and eat three sweet rolls and drink two coffees in station snack bar.  Since I have a few hours wait before catching the train that will take me to Sitges I decide to leave the station and walk around aimlessly.  The streets are quiet and empty except for an occasional policeman, as if all of Barcelona sleeps in on a Sunday morning.  Or maybe it's that everyone but me and a few policemen are at Mass.

As I'm walking down one quiet street I see that I'm approaching from behind a policeman in front of some official-looking building.  His uniform is gaudy like opera costumery.  He's just ambling slowly.  Suddenly, surprised, he hears my footsteps behind him and swings around and simultaneously hoists a machine gun so that it is aimed at me.  Judging me harmless, I guess, he lifts an arm as if to dismiss his carelessness and laughs and presents the sidewalk to me with a sweep of his arm.

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