Perfect Strangers (231 words)
A few hours playing tourist before my conference, I photograph cobblestones and pass a man with sandy hair and blue eyes. The Stranger smiles, winks, and I blush.
“You have to try the raw oysters in Annapolis,” my brother had said. I order a half-dozen. They come on a paper plate with condiments and a tiny red prong that reminds me of a cattle prod albeit for miniature cows. I eye the oysters suspiciously, having second thoughts. They look more appetizing fried in a golden batter.
“Like this,” the Stranger who’s suddenly appeared says. He lifts the gray shell from his plate, dazzles it with hot sauce and pops the shiny body into his mouth.
I pick one up, drape hot sauce on it until it looks wounded and scoop it into my mouth, chew, chew, swallow and then wave my hand in front of my mouth. “The sauce is hot!”
“Maybe a little less.”
I smile, use some cocktail sauce this time with horseradish, nod this is okay. But the Stranger is gone again.
I visit the Naval Academy grounds, find a bench facing the bay and watch seagulls spirit away fries children toss into the air. The Stranger laughs when he sees me and I grin. He sits on the edge of the bench, holds out his hand to me: “I’m Seth.”
Moments before perfect strangers. Maybe now just perfect.