Occurrence at a fountain, p.1
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       Occurrence at a Fountain, p.1

           Rich Amada
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Occurrence at a Fountain


  Occurrence at a Fountain

  by

  Rich Amada

  Copyright © 2016 Richard Amada. All rights reserved.

  Published by Scarlet Maiden, a trademark.

  This is a copyrighted work. The scanning, uploading, copying, and/or distribution of this story without permission is a theft of the author’s intellectual property and a violation of copyright law. No part of this story may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the express written permission of the publisher. This prohibition does not extend to a reviewer who may quote brief passages as part of a review.

  This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  OCCURRENCE AT A FOUNTAIN

  by

  Rich Amada

  It was a fountain of no major significance, no worldwide acclaim. It was on no travel guide’s list of must-see landmarks. But, there in the heart of what passed for the mountain community’s downtown neighborhood, it delighted the children who liked to hold their fingers over intermittently dormant spouts awaiting the uncertain moment when a burst of chilly spray would blast forth and splatter the tykes into peals of giddy laughter.

  Adults liked it, too. At least, it seemed so, judging by the numbers of them who stopped to sit either on the low concrete wall that encased the circumference of its basin or on any of the various benches the city positioned about the square where it was located, each seat angled to afford a direct view of the aquatic display that I assume was a source of pride to the townsfolk.

  I seated myself on one of those benches that mild summer day that I happened upon the location. I wasn’t from around there. I was a man who was, as the saying goes, just passing through, on a journey of no particular meaning or destination. I called it a vacation trip, although, what it really was was an excuse to get away from home, to get out of town, out of state, and let my head fill up on new sights and sounds I hoped would push aside thoughts of a painful recent divorce that had been preceded by an even more painful marriage.

  Not every marriage works out, and I won’t bore you with details. Let it suffice to say a parting of the ways was mutually beneficial. Even so, the vacancy that forms when one goes from being part of a couple to being single again can leave you with a sense of being an outcast in a familiar world that no longer feels quite right.

  So here I was, taking that motor trip through the mountains that I’d always wanted to do but never did because she wasn’t interested. I left an undistinguishable motel around 9 a.m. and meandered through twisting roads that took me in and out of forests of pine and aspen. About noon, I felt pangs of hunger and pulled off the highway to locate someplace for lunch. Had it been a typical day back home, I’d have sought the quickest and cheapest from a fast food franchise. But this was my vacation, so I decided I was entitled to more than that.

  On the town’s main street, I happened upon a café with a welcoming appearance, and there I dined on an open-faced turkey sandwich with gravy while an attentive waitress made sure to smile whenever she saw me looking in her direction. It was only a gesture of politeness on her part, but, alone as I was, it was nice being greeted by an amiable feminine face.

  I was tempted to strike up a conversation with her and almost did on a few occasions when she paused near my table. Since setting out from home three days earlier, I’d hardly spoken to anyone—that is, other than gas station attendants, motel clerks, and restaurant staff. However, it was lunchtime, and she had other customers to attend. I didn’t want to be one of those guys who pesters busy waitresses while they’re trying to earn their tips. So, I kept quiet and, as soon as I finished my meal, paid the check, gave her a gracious “thank you,” and exited.

  The street outside the café was almost postcard perfect. It was clean, bright, and bustling with well-mannered people out enjoying a Sunday afternoon. The warmth of the sun’s rays was tempered with a cool mountain breeze that tickled the hairs on my arms, bared to the elements as they were by my short sleeve shirt. As I stood there, it occurred to me that I couldn’t hope to find a nicer spot in which to pass a few moments of leisure. So I determined to leave my car where it was parked and walk to the square I could see was about a block and a half away.

  It was an open space with quaint brick walkways crisscrossing it and lots of leafy trees around its perimeter. At its center was the fountain—the focal point that attracted most everyone’s attention. It was mostly concrete and metal, with multi-colored tile flooring in its basin. Right in the middle, receiving a sporadic dowsing of the sprayed waters, was a stone pedestal featuring on its crest and sides carved figures depicting the kind of woodland creatures one would expect to find inhabiting the region. Multiple spouts spurted droplets of water playfully into the air, arcing at their apex, and plummeting downward to join their liquid brethren in the bubbling pool below.

  I was on my bench maybe about ten minutes when I noticed a young couple strolling by hand in hand. They were both perhaps twenty years old and had all the bloom of optimistic youth spewing from them. Their faces radiated contentment. Their stride was relaxed and unhurried. With one glance, it was clear they were enmeshed in that wondrous state of first love.

  They reached the outer wall of the fountain and paused for a few seconds to view its dancing waters. Then they turned toward each other. Her hands went behind his neck. His cupped her lower back. A moment later, they were kissing. Long, passionate kisses that knew no restrictions and acknowledged no impropriety about the public nature of what they were doing. Their love was all that mattered, and the rest of the world was free to watch, if it so chose.

  “Oh!—I wanna do that!” It was a combination of jealous whining and romantic longing emanating from another girl. She was seated on a nearby bench with three other female friends. They seemed to be in their mid to late twenties, and all of them were dressed in jeans and casual shirts. Each had a half-eaten cup of gelato I presumed they purchased from the ice cream shop on the far end of the square. Up till then, I hadn’t even noticed them. I doubt they had noticed me. At the moment, their attention was riveted on the kissing couple by the fountain—so much so that not a one of them was eating her gelato.

  The girl who’d made the comment had hair of a dirty blond color pulled back into a ponytail and a fresh face punctuated by grayish blue eyes. Of the four of them, she was the third down the bench from my vantage point. I looked her over only for a second and then did something I’d never done before.

  “How much do you wanna do that?” I posed to her in a cavalier tone.

  I must have had a commanding air in the way I said it. All four of them simultaneously turned their heads toward me.

  “Huh?” was the nearest girl’s puzzled response.

  “I was speaking to the lady who said she wants to do what that couple is doing,” I explained. “My question was…how much do you wanna do that? Enough to kiss a man who just happens to be here?”

  I tell you, I surprised even myself with this sudden boldness. It just wasn’t like me. I suppose the combination of being someplace where nobody knew me, along with the fact that I had just muffed an opportunity to talk with the waitress, put me in a frame of mind where I simply didn’t care how this played out. I sensed an opportunity, and I was determined to jump in with both feet.

  There was a momentary dumbfounded pause as the female quartet contemplated my unanticipated query. The blonde in the ponytail finally broke the silence.

  “Not that much!” she sniggered.

&nbs
p; The ponytailed girl rolled her eyes and looked quite satisfied with herself as she spooned gelato onto her tongue. Her friends giggled as though she had just chased off a dirty old man preying on young girls in the park.

  At the time, I was in my mid thirties. No one could’ve accused me of robbing any cradles with these girls. But what did it matter? I wasn’t proposing marriage. I was just responding to what I’d heard. As far as I was concerned, if the girl didn’t want people to respond, she shouldn’t have said it out loud.

  In a figurative sense, I drew my sword and charged.

  “My dear woman, is hostility really appropriate?”

  I adopted a courtly manner I deemed to be that of every woman’s fantasy. If I learned anything at all from my ex’s taste in reading material, it was that the romantic heroes in contemporary chick lit all speak in a lofty manner that makes them sound as though they sprang straight out of a Jane Austen novel.

  “You make a public statement,” I continued with calm logic, “proclaiming to the world your desire to be kissing a man. Then, when one inquires whether he might be able to offer assistance in that respect, your response is to behave churlishly?”

  To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what “churlish”
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