Five Card Story: Intrigue in Portugal

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a Five Card Flickr story by Mr. McLauchlin created Mar 10 2014, 10:28:59 pm. Create a new one!

flickr photo credits: (1) .CJG. (2) jentropy (3) keepps (4) Serenae (5) Intrepid Flame

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I looked down at the beautiful pink petunia's that grew next to the table I sat and thought about all the people stuck in cold, snowy Regina, SK. I imagined them going for walks, playing with their dogs and spending time outside; all while they were cold and covered head to toe in winter gear. As I snapped back to the wonderful petunias in front on me, I thought, "I am certainly glad I am here and not shovelling snow back at home." It was a beautiful day here in Lisbon, Portugal and I was not going to waste it.

I finished my lunch and left the restaurant where I had been sitting next to the petunias and departed for a short walk. After walking for a time, I came across a man fishing off the pier at the Marina de Cascais. At first I thought nothing of it, after all it was a beautiful day and fishing seemed like the thing to do. However, as I approached the pier I saw that the man had been simply tossing his line into the water and paying little attention to his results. He seemed to be starring off to the other end of the pier, as though he were watching for something.

I sat for a while on the pier and observed the man reel in his line, pull it out of the water and then recast, time and again, all while looking down the pier. I thought this was strange and against my better judgement I decided to get closer, sitting next to a father and daughter who were also playing on the pier. I sat there for almost an hour, gazing out at the tranquil, brilliant blue water, while sneaking glances at the man who was pretending to fish. Finally, after nearly the hour had past, I heard the man speaking, but who was he speaking to? He was speaking in Portuguese so I could not fully discern what he was saying, but I was able to tell that he had an earpiece hidden under his long hair. This was no simple Bluetooth headset; it appeared to be an elaborate earpiece, the kind you see in spy movies, which further raised my intrigue.

While my Portuguese is limited, I did manage to understand the word "parque", which means park and the word "homem", which means man. I immediately thought of the Parque Marechal Carmona which was near the pier I was sitting at and wondered if there was something interesting happening there.

The man began to pack up his fishing equipment and I thought he would likely be headed to towards the park. If I plan to go there as well, I had to go before he did, so it would not look like I was following him. I popped up and walked causally toward Parque Marechal Carmona. Turning my head back occasionally to see that the man was indeed headed toward the park as well.

The park was peaceful and serene but also rather large. In my caution to avoid being spotted by the man I had somehow lost him and began to think it was silly of me to even bother coming over here. None-the-less, the park was beautiful so I decided to walk around. The path in the park loops around with benches lining both sides and since it was the still relatively early in the afternoon and many people were working, the park was rather sparsely occupied. I walked around; taking pictures, as the typical tourist would do, admiring the natural scenery that was presented to me. As I came down one particular path, I encountered a man sitting on a park bench, but what was more interesting was the pattern the sun had made surrounding him. The light, breaking through the fencing on a building behind the man, created a stunning pattern of stars around him.

Not wanting to be seen, but wanting to capture this image, I placed a zoom lens on my camera and squatted behind a tree to capture the radiant light. I took several photographs and watched as the man stretched and yawned very loudly. As he completed his expressive yawn and stretch, someone emerged from the far side of the path. It was the same man that I had seen pretend fishing on the pier earlier.

My level of intrigue had reached a new height as the fishing man took a seat beside the fellow on the bench. I wanted to see and hear what was going on but I also knew that if I moved from where I was squatting I would be easily seen, so I remained where I was. I could not clearly make out what they were doing with my naked eye, so I returned to my camera with on my zoom, snapping pictures of the two men talking and later having a heated discussion.

The discussion was not short and legs were beginning to become sore from squatting so long; however, I did not want to miss whatever was going on and I definitely did not want them to see me, so I remained hidden. After what seemed like an eternity, the man that was sitting on the park bench reached into the inside of his coat pocket and took out a small yellow envelope. I held the camera as steady as I could and focused on the envelop as he held it out. In taking the picture I could clearly seen that the envelop contained Euros, as he turned it over to the man that had been fishing. In exchange, the fishing man pulled from his pocket an envelop of his own and handed it to the man on the bench. This envelop was sealed but in taking pictures, I could see the envelop was marked confidencial, which means confidential in Portuguese. My mind wondered, what confidential information did the envelop contain, how many Euros were in the other envelop and why was the man on the bench willing to pay for the contents of the other envelop.

My right leg had been asleep for some time and without any want or control it simply gave from under me, causing me to nearly fall over. "Dammit" I thought, the noise I just made surely alerted the two men to my presence and I am about to involved in a very awkward situation. However, as I peaked from around the tree I could see the men standing there, clearly done their transaction, but not coming toward me. I breathed a big sigh of relief and watched as the man that was fishing departed the way he came and the man that was on the bench walked straight ahead, into the trees. I knelt there, still, watching until I could no longer see either man before I began to pack up my camera, again wondering what the transaction was all about.

Just as a finished placing my camera back into its bag, I heard footsteps on the grass behind me. I spun around to see the man that had been sitting on the bench towing above me. He said something to me in Portuguese and before I could complete my sentence apologizing for taking pictures, I was struck over the head. I do not know what I was hit with, but whatever the item, it caused me to collapse instantly and temporarily lose consciousness.

I awoke, what appeared to be hours later, based on the fact that sun was partially set, lying in the same place I had been squatting earlier. My head ached and as I rubbed it I realized there was dry blood where I had been struck. I sat up, with me back against the tree and looked out to see that the park lights had become lit as the sun went down. I also realized, as my senses began to return to me, that my camera was gone.

I sat on the grass in the park, for what must have been nearly an hour, starring at the lamp post in front on me. The light of the lamp seemed almost peaceful and allowed me to escape from the thoughts of what had just happened, temporarily. I sat there for a while, wishing I had just stayed out of the park, before I finally gathered the strength to get up. I walked slowly out of the park, thinking about my encounter with the two men and my now stolen camera. This was indeed a story to be remembered, but unfortunately one that would only be remembered in my mind now.

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flickr photo credits: (1) .CJG. (2) jentropy (3) keepps (4) Serenae (5) Intrepid Flame

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