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The Park Bench

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Once upon a time, there was a magic fountain in a tiny park in New York whose water was so pure it could heal any wound and cleanse any sin. Reese stared into the murky water, shoulders slumped, too tired to be surprised at the fanciful turn of his thoughts. Sighing, he eased himself onto a bench facing the decidedly unmagical fountain and took a sip of hot apple cider. Awkwardly fishing his cell phone out of his pocket he powered it down with stiff fingers. After the confrontation in that house he wasn’t in the mood to help anyone. Squinting against the haze of the setting sun he watched as a little girl happily dragged a turtle on a string around the pool of the fountain. Her watchful mother was on the bench across from Reese, chatting amiably with a friend. Shifting uncomfortably on the hard bench, he moved his gaze to the older couple feeding birds, then on to the hipsters playing chess. He felt a smile tug at the corner of his mouth as the tiny woman took her no-longer-smug partners rook. He shook his head at the flabbergasted boy. He had learned the hard way to never judge a person by their appearance and at a lot younger age than the boy.

Closing his eyes briefly he tried to concentrate on relaxing. The stiff ache in his shoulders and back were giving him a headache. Focusing on the world around him, he could smell burnt coffee and cigarettes and gasoline. He could hear sirens and angry car horns and dogs barking. And if he stopped with the pessimism and chose the silver lining he could also smell fresh baked bread and flowers and hear a little girl singing a silly song about Mr. Moon. He’d thought the quiet park would help him feel better but he was lost in this world – a wolf in sheep’s clothing. There was no comfort in the everyday doings of ordinary people. It just highlighted his isolation. Like a lone rock in a stream, the world ebbed and flowed around him oblivious to his presence. Another siren sped by the park, startling the birds and disrupting the peace. With a pang of unease, he tugged his jacket more firmly over his not so white shirt. It was foolish to stop here, he supposed, so close to the scene. He’d knee capped two people so it probably wouldn’t be long before Carter showed up.

Well, his melancholy was accomplishing nothing and he’d been off comms long enough – Finch would worry. Bracing himself, he slowly rose to his feet and gingerly moved out of the park. Had he eaten recently? A coffee and bagel very early this morning – nothing hearty since last night. Pausing he squinted down Greenwich to confirm his initial read. Yep, “A Salt and Battery”. He HAD to try it. After taking one last look at the sparkling fountain he put it firmly at his back and went to eat.