The room was small but clean, with a bed, a small table, a chair, and a dresser. Jean Pierre noted that there was a ceramic chamber pot under the bed, and a water pitcher on the dresser with bowl for washing. All in all, a tidy little room that Waleed was providing.
He looked out of the window, which offered a view of the alley below but no more. The opposite wall was featureless, so there would be no watching young ladies undress like in the romantic novels in his parents’ library.
His belongings stored, the young man turned to Usman. “Merci beaucoup,” he said, then noticed the puzzled look the man gave. “I mean, sank you. Can you please tell me ze way to Newtown?”
He listened to the waiter’s instructions, dared not ask again, and bounded down the steps, his head filled with questions. To be receiving two hundred and fifty Cardian dollars suddenly seemed a problem: where to store the funds? Should he treat it as an account to withdraw from as needed? And what to think of the beggar lady? And how to begin? Before locking his room, he grabbed his empty shoulder satchel and put a small book in it with a pencil. It suddenly seemed like a good idea to keep notes going forward.
As he reentered the cafe, Waleed had moved on, but the young woman was also no longer lurking in the shadows. He stepped out into the mid afternoon street just as the sun emerged from a cloud. Now, where could she be? Did she already begin without him?