The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Work Hard, Play Hard

A fleet of Domino’s pizza delivery mopeds putter through the tourist crowd by the Hippodrome of Constantinople. The boy drivers nod at each other and roar weak engines on the tracks where chariots once raced, passing the imported Egyptian Obelisk and the Byzantine fountain without blinking. They call to each other and laugh before breaking toward their hungry clients at various locations.

Two other boys are on foot, and their job is rummaging for plastic bottles among the trash. One drags an already-heavy graying mesh bag in which their discoveries are stored. While the other scatters out to the smaller trashcans in the park, the first gets an idea. A smile dawns on him. He hustles and hides behind a tree. The collection in the bag–nearly full from their efforts–stood so high that he could rest his elbows on it.  The tree has a trunk the size of the boy’s leg and gives him no real cover, yet he peers out and giggles, waiting for the other boy to find himself abandoned. It takes about a minute for the scavenging boy to notice. He stops cold.

The boy’s arms fall to his sides as he looks into a crowd of strangers. The hiding boy rushes from behind the tree, sorry to see the worry on display, hurrying back to his friend with a consoling wave. And they recover quickly. They laugh. The left behind boy pushes the other, and adds more plastic bottles to the mesh bag that they tug between tour groups. The boys enjoy the joke for a block, slapping each other, opting to be unaware of the visitors snapping photos, of the people tsk-tsking to see young boys so sad, so grimy, so distant, collecting their empties.

–Istanbul, Turkey.

(I didn’t have the heart to steal photos of these boys, so here’s the Obelisk instead.)

One comment on “Work Hard, Play Hard

  1. edlynch
    August 4, 2012

    Hemingway wrote some journalism from Constantinople. It led to one of the “inter-chapters” from In Our Time. And so Henry James died and a new form of prose took his place!

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This entry was posted on August 1, 2012 by in Europe, Happiness, Mischief, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , .

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