a woman wearing a blue dress and a large hat with a bird on it was eating an ice cream cone with delicate bites in an outdoor cafe in front of the railway station at seven o'clock on a summer evening in a small but ancient city in europe.
a well dressed gray haired man seated at another cafe on the other side of the square observed her as he sipped his coffee.
a croissant lay untouched on a plate before him.
a walking stick was balanced against the table that held the plate that held the croissant.
the head of the walking stick was carved in the form of a scene from the epic poem "moloch" by the 13th century poet tomo de lobo, from whom the well dressed gray haired man had been led to believe he was descended.
the man's name was don pedro de lobo and when the sun went down he would be transformed into a ravenous beast.
don pedro de lobo gazed with increasing intensity at thel woman eating the ice cream cone.
the woman gave no sign that she knew she was been gazed at with intensity.
don pedro had made up his mind to practice his beastliness on the woman, when suddenly -
- the elderly waiter appeared at his side
- another woman, the twin of the first, but wearing a pink dress instead of a blue one, and a hat with a white mouse on it instead of a bird, appeared at his side
- his old enemy, don guzman de cervantes, appeared at his side
- the chief of police, don toledo, appeared at his side
don pedro knew the game was up.
he had been betrayed.
as he always knew he would be.
his only regret was that he might never know who had betrayed him.
he opened his mouth to ask who had betrayed him.
but no words came out of his mouth.
only a river of pure blue water.
on the river was a boat.
and on the boat, the woman in the blue dress, the woman in the pink dress, don guznman de cervantes, and the chief police sat in deck chairs being served by the elderly waiter.
when the boat receded over the horizon, don pedro found himself back in the cafe in the body of a waiter.
a single customer sat at a table by the rail separating the cafe from the street .
the customer was an old man whom pedro recognized as his grandfather.
pedro approached his grandfather.
would you like an absinthe, grandfather? he asked.
of course, my boy, what else would i have?
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