The Two



I sat there listening to the story, holding onto every word, when I realized we had been joined by somebody else. The hooded, silent gentleman. He stood silently next to the narrator. “Oh, jeez. You scared the shit out of me. This a friend of mine. He’s sailing with me to India this summer.” The silent man unzipped his coat and lifted his shirt. A nautical flag. Yellow, with a black dot in the center. He smiled with the cigarette in his mouth. Apparently, it’s a flag that means “I,” meaning India. I know it means something else. I learned it in a history class. It used to mean that there was black death aboard the boat and that people shouldn’t come near it. I looked at the two men smoking and grinning, and felt as though I was witnessing a bad omen. I remained silent until I thanked them and walked home.