Bedouin Woman Takes The Leftovers
 by Timothy M. Leonard

    He said goodbye to the barber, the man with silver hair in his chair getting a trim, reconnecting with wisdom and daily affirmations and the old man smoking his Cuban cigar in a shaft of sunlight.

    Well-heeled fashionable Cadiz women with and without their children in wheeled prams shoveling sweets into their mouths paraded past going to the Iglesia de San Juan de Dios with it's splendid wide inlaid stones, lined with palms, flanked by cafes with 'Novelty' metal chairs holding tired tourists and relaxed natives smoking, drinking coffee, talking in multiple tongues, eating soft hot pastries, studying creased paper maps filled with diagrams of historical reference with their foreign furrowed brows watching humanity find their way in the world.

    White starched shirted waiters scurried from table to table. They placed their orders with women behind counters wearing white laboratory technician coats. The lone plaza resident, a tall short black bearded madman with untied tennis shoes roamed the perimeter looking for someone to hustle, looking for Charity's leftovers.

    He remembered the Bedouin woman covered in black who hovered near him in Marrakech when he had chicken, rice, bread and water on a side street. He sat near the street away from the intense heat of chickens turning on their gas fired circles. He was always living on the edge of somewhere else in the world and understood her motivation. Hunger. At first she approached him with the old hand out request and he spoke to her in broken Arabic and waved her away. He told her, 'Not now, no money. I will leave some food for you. Wait.'

    She waited across the street trapped between parked cars watching through slits in fabric. Her eyes were the world. He watched her watch people eating. She was calm and silent. Wild cats roamed their malnourished skeletons around eaters' feet staying away from a waiter's swift shoe. The woman watched and waited.

    He fed abstract scraps to cats. They fought over bones in the dust hissing and dragging bones to shelter. The Red City was full of dust as caravans full of salt and gold moved north across the Sahara. Feeding cats became a ritual in Morocco for him. A passion for the hungry animals. They were all in the same fix, roaming, lost, looking, trying to survive in desperate circumstances. They were everywhere. He didn't eat everything. When he left the table to pay she closed in. Her blackness swooped like a dream across the pavement. They were a team. His going off to pay meant the waiter couldn't clear the table because he had to figure the charges so she was free to collect everything.

    Like magic she produced a plastic bag from under her blackness, picked up the plate and dumped everything inside; bones, meat, rice, tomatoes; the works.

    She was fast and efficient. She glided away and took up her position across the street in the darkness.

    He paid and left, walked past her and they locked eyes. He was naked, she was covered in her belief. Her invisible clear eyes flashed a brief recognition and he nodded. She smiled under her veil. Their relationship of mutual respect ignored verbal language.

The End


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