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Part 9
New York, Monday October 10

9:25 a.m.
Peerooz called me as soon as I stepped in the office. Pretty early, even for him! In a half-joking tone, he reprimanded me for not returning his phone call last Saturday. Then he went on a long explanation on how a "bad girl" like me ought to be punished. I was trying not to burst out laughing, keeping a watchful eye on Grolpy's slightly ajar office door. Finished off with an arrogant: "Be careful doll, I always get what I want." Sigh... wish his arrogance didn't turn me on so!...

Sunday October 16

6: 35 p.m.
Very strange. Haven't heard from Peerooz for the whole week. Wonder what he is scheming.

Other bizarre event: Ran into that guy Ali, Hossein's cousin which I met at Nance's party last time. It was at the end of my jogging route. I usually take Bleeker straight to the Hudson and use the jogging path there. Figured I better take advantage of this mild weather while it lasts. Well he was there too apparently. We met quite unexpectedly at this little kiosk where they sell water and fruit juices. At first I didn't recognize him and even checked him out. I mean, what else would you do when you see a shirtless man, his firm, tanned abs glistening in the afternoon sun. He was wearing a green Notre-Dame cap and dark sunglasses, a pair of navy blue knee-length shorts with white trims and cool basketball-looking white sneakers. When I went up to order my water, his "SalAm" slightly startled me. "Oh hiiiii!" I said in an unnaturally high-pitched voice. I always get this way when I am caught off guard. He had taken off his glasses and was staring pretty intensely into my eyes which for some reason made me want to lower mine. (Was he that way with everyone?) The coldness I had noticed in his glance at Nance's party was still there, though offset by a kind and warm smile.

-- "How are you? I almost didn't recognize you... til I saw your eyes."

I blushed. Oh my god! That's right, he must remember me as the crazy Baby Jane from the party with my make-up that looked like it had been applied with a paintbrush. I did look very different today. I was wearing my favorite Yankees cap backwards and my hair fell from under it in a tangled windswept mess. I was wearing no make-up, and beads of sweat I am sure had been formed all over my face and throat. My outfit was worse! I hate clingy stuff when I am running because with all the perspiration it ends up sticking to my skin. So I always opt for a loose baseball shirt, white with black stripes, and baggy shorts. I must have looked about twelve!

-- "I am good thanks (still in unnatural high-pitched voice) How are you?"

We walked over to a nearby bench with our bottles of water. We didn't sit down. I leaned against the bench while he put one foot on it, and rested his arms on his elevated knee. We chatted a little bit on how he was adjusting to his new life etc. I was surprised to learn he had jogged all the way from Tribeca, where he lives. That was not a short distance by any means! He asked me about my work which I answered with the usual whining. As for himself, he had been working on an article on this not-for-profit drug-rehab clinic that had achieved amazing results in the little Brooklyn neighbourhood it was serving. But now it was being threatened with eviction for lack of sufficient funding. I felt ashamed to have been whining about my job.

-- "Wow it is really amazing what you do!"

He looked at me with a smile.

-- "Why?"

-- "Because you are helping people, you are taking up their cause."

He shook his head.

-- "Yeah and in the end they will be evicted like the rest and I will have written a neat article which no one will have read, and if they did, it was while they were having their breakfast, in their warm kitchen, drinking their European coffee and buttering their bread, and they will shake their heads in sympathy, then toss the paper in the trash and go on with their life."

-- "If that's what you really think, why do you do it then?"

He laughed.

-- "Because I still haven't been able to get rid of this damn disease I have. As hard as I have tried to cure myself. "

-- "Disease?"

-- "Yeah...it is a very rare condition. It is called belief in your fellow man."

We continued chit-chatting for a few minutes until we finally parted. While I walked away, one thing that I kept remembering was how his voice was warm and soothing. The kind of voice that could calm you down no matter what bad luck befell on you.

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By Nazanin

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