IT WAS A residential assignment in the remote inner north. I arrived early enough to sample a Lebanese bakery I’d earmarked on the main road. Families ate outside, five abreast on three-seat benches, bowing over paper bags, arms tucked in deference.
I bought two haloumi pies, one for now, one for later.
Out on the footpath, a sinewy man in a camel-skin jacket turned to confront a woman who trailed closely behind him. The man bristled and glowered and she froze still as his craggy palm stopped short of her face.
He walked on.
She followed, at a distance.
The patrons went about their meals. They weren’t bothered.
With twenty minutes to spare, I left my haloumi pies in the car and followed the couple, self-appointed vanguard of some foreign liberation front. Well, for the next twenty minutes anyway…
Eventually, the woman repeated her mistake and clipped his heel with her toe. This time he pinched her by the ear and dragged her sideways down the street. Funnily enough, she didn’t seem afraid now that his hands were on her and my hopes of intervening were shattered since it would be futile to try and rescue her from a fate she had already accepted.
I went back and sat in the car and ate one of my haloumi pies. The second one kept looking at me and I had some stomach left, so I started in on the second one too. I ate half of it and was full, but if I left it halfway the exposed cheese would have crusted, even if I’d sealed the bag up properly, so I had to eat all of it.