We passed each other by a broken fountain in a cement courtyard with no one else around, the weather turning gray and cold. At the same moment, we both glanced up from the ground. Neither of us smiled but there was something that caught and held. I kept on for several steps and then felt I had to turn around. You had already stopped and were looking back at me. Unnerved, I continued across the courtyard and into a shop. Through the window I could see that you had sat down on a nearby bench and were looking toward the store. I had come to the shop to look for a record entitled “A Man a Woman Walked By.” Really. I can’t make this kind of thing up. They had a copy at a good price. I suspected that a mistake was being made and went back outside without making the purchase, but you had disappeared.
What was lost? Perhaps a beautiful affair is now gone forever, something precious never to be recovered. Or perhaps you would have stabbed me in your car later that night, dumped my body near the river and the next day been back at that broken fountain looking for some other man, some guy that didn’t make you want to kill him, if such a person actually existed. It’s also possible that, after a period of passion and tumult, I would have told you about another girl, someone I loved more than you, if I’d even grown to really care about you at all. You can never be too sure about strangers these days and everything we knew about each other was in that brief moment when our eyes met. Was that enough? Was it everything? Or was it nothing? Because, you know, men and women pass each other every second of the day and it’s possible that we were only both just slightly out of our minds.
At least, I figure I must be slightly out of my mind because now you’re another person I never knew that I’m going to miss for the rest of my life, even if you would have killed me.
Photos are of a little lost schoolhouse somewhere on Highway 60 in central New Mexico.