AND THEN A BEAR APPEARED AMONG THE PAGES
In our series of short stories, our Wonnie bookmark appears among the pages of playful, introspective, adventure books, that we try to explore as well.
An odd man
I knew an odd man.
I wasn’t the only one to know him, to tell you the truth: everybody in town knew about him. Newsvendors, especially. They used to meet him every day, because his mornings began with the purchase of a newspaper.
He didn’t have a favorite one. As every newsvendor confirmed, the only thing that mattered was that they reported news, from all over the world. His ‘ritual’ was about getting to the newsstand early, choosing from the exhibitors, paying cash, talking to those who passed by. He was kind, he was gentle. We know very little about him because his attitude led him to listen, rather then speaking about himself. He appreciated being open to people he didn’t know and passed by.
The odd man loved reading the news on a bench nearby. This was another thing that caught the town’s curiosity: even if he left very few traces behind, he wanted to know – a part of him wanted it for sure – that somebody was there to take care of him with the eyes, even if for a short time.
Those who managed to spend some time with him, realized that he didn’t simply read with interest: he was literally moved by words. He left traces close to whatever caught his attention, he was interested in a lot of things!
He dog-eared and ripped pages. He was mainly into foreign news, coming from abroad, maybe related to those countries he dreamt to visit. They said that he never left this little town for family reasons. Maybe they were not simple newspapers to him, they were maps thanks to which he could dream about trips.
I knew an odd man.
We all used to name him this way, until the day we couldn’t see him again. That’s right. No person, no newsvendor, nobody in town has known about him anymore, from one day to another.
The rumor about his disappearance spread immediately, of course: newspaper sales plunged all of a sudden!
Where is he? What happened to him? streets whispered.
At a certain moment we had an inevitable idea: to search for him near the benches he loved to sit on. We never found him. No traces at all, except a newspaper – maybe the last one he bought, maybe the last one he read. A newspaper with a wooden stick among the pages, a bear-shaped bookmark that was very different from the rigorous way he used to look like.
The wooden rectangle was lying not on a printed news, not on a report, but on a big colored picture. It was the advertising of a cruise ship: a palm shaken by the wind in the foreground, the ocean in the background, red and yellow characters everywhere.
I used to know an odd man, we all used to know him.
Then he left one day, he went to discover the sea.
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