Standing on the busy sidewalk, Suzy made slow turns, looking up at the tall buildings. The theme song from the Mary Tyler Moore show on continuous loop in her head, she regretting not having a felt beret to toss in the air.
Suzy wasn’t a young woman, not just starting out in the business world. She was just a middle-aged mother of two, alone in the big city for the first time. No husband to argue with over where to go for dinner, no kids to keep track of, no work obligations to worry about, she was free to wander wherever she wanted.
The trip was the grand prize at her daughter’s fifth-grade PTO fall festival. She bought all 10 of the tickets that came home in the volunteer packet. Soliciting her Bunco Club to buy into the raffle was verboten, and her Mom’s Day Out group at church frowned on gambling. Her husband refused to ask his co-workers, saying it was bad office etiquette. He simply didn’t want to buy reciprocal Christmas wrapping paper from other elementary school parents.
Outside the metro station, at the center of the shopping district, Suzy was feeling overwhelmed. There was so much so see, so many unfamiliar sounds, such a multitude of people, she kept spinning to take it all in.
A shrill car horn startled her as she stepped off the curb. Jumping out of the street, Suzy ran into an impeccably dressed man of indeterminate origin. He seemed to have suddenly appeared before her, materializing out of the concrete and glass.
Grabbing her arms, he kept her from falling backwards into traffic. When she recovered from her near disaster, Suzy’s eyes focused on her rescuer.
He was neither young, nor old. His dark, fashionably short hair was flecked with a scattering of silver. He wore three-piece suit the color of mourning doves, accented with a bright yellow and green tie.
“The tall buildings can be quite captivating,” the man said. “You would do better to pay closer attention to your feet.”
“My feet?” Suzy extracted herself from the man’s grasp.
A small smirk played across his lips. “My humorous way of saying, ‘watch where you’re going’.”
He held out a well-manicured hand. “My name is Minkin Bercu, and you are Suzanna Wright, née Tipton. You’re friends call you, ‘Suzy’.”
Minkin caught her just as her knees buckled. He helped her to a nearby table outside of Bistro Baptistina.
Waving over a black-pants-white-shirt-long-apron server, Minkin ordered Suzy a glass of water, and a double-shot espresso for himself. He waited for Suzy to take a long gulp of water, then a deep breath.
“I apologize for the unconventional introduction,” Minkin said. “It was necessary.”
“How do you know my name?” Suzy held tightly onto her glass, beads of water oozing between her clenched fingers.
“It’s my job to know,” he said.
“Did my husband hire you to follow me?” She sat her drink on the table, to point an accusatory finger at Minkin, slinging water at her rescuer. “He thinks I’m meeting someone while I’m in the city, doesn’t he.”
Minkin shook out one of the linen napkin lying on the table, and wiped the spray of water from his face and lapels.
“I assure you, Madam, I am most certainly not in your husband’s employ.” Minkin said, neatly refolding the cloth. “I am not a pulp fiction character from a detective noir novel lurking in alleys, stalking heedless women. No, it is my job to ensure your safety, and to return you home to your family intact.”
“I don’t understand,” Suzy said.
“This would have been so much easier if I had inflicted you with an intestinal ailment,” Minkin murmured around sips of his espresso.
“I did feel a little nauseous yesterday morning before my flight here,” Suzy volunteered.
“That wasn’t me,” Minkin said.
“What’s going on here?” Suzy was over her initial shock, and was becoming agitated.
“I am your Guardian Angel, and it was my duty to keep you from getting run over by a City Cab,” he said.
Suzy sat back in her chair, shaking her head.
“It wasn’t your time,” Minkin said, waving over their server to order another espresso. “There are plans that must be allowed to play out to fruition.”
“I still don’t understand,” she said.
“The nausea you felt wasn’t nerves, nor anxiety,” Minkin said, nodding his thanks to the bistroista for the fresh cup of coffee. “Suzy, you’re pregnant, and your unborn child has a very specific destiny.”
“Oh my, God!”
“Yes, now you understand.”