Unforeseen mission

They no longer heard the roar of horns and surrounding buses, much less the murmur of water flowing through the canal. Suddenly, on the young man's neck, the imprint of a scratch opened up, and under the girl's fingernails, a few drops of blood peeked out.

Juan Ignacio Izquierdo Hübner-March 19, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes
san jose

They were young and did not know how to get back on track in their relationship. They thought that a walk among the poplars and willows would cool them down a bit, but when they reached the park, the tension escalated and the language hardened to insults: they could no longer hear the roar of horns and surrounding buses, much less the murmur of the water flowing through the canal. Suddenly, on the young man's neck there was a scratch mark and under the girl's fingernails a few drops of blood appeared. 

It happened on a Wednesday in March around lunchtime, in a narrow, discreet park near the financial district of Santiago de Chile; in the green strip that accompanies the San Carlos canal in its last stretch to the Mapocho River. 

After the assault, the young man grabbed the backpack that his girlfriend had left on the lawn and hugged her. To reinforce his defense, he took out his cell phone and set about filming his partner with a threatening attitude. She was looking at him from a distance of three or four meters with her slender body trembling and her face as pale as the moon.

 Give it back to me," she whimpered, "please. 

- First ask my forgiveness," he replied, taking slow steps toward the fence separating the park from the canal.

- You are like everyone else, a child! 

The girl pronounced the last word with a grunt, fear filled her patience and she jumped again to the attack. He put the cell phone in his pocket, ran faster into the canal and grabbed the backpack with both hands to throw it into the water. "No!" she pleaded. Catastrophe was imminent. But, at that moment, a runner who was passing by interrupted them:

- Hey," he exclaimed with calm authority and open hands, "is something wrong? 

He was a middle-aged man, with a dark complexion, robust arms, thin lips inside a trimmed beard and a penetrating gaze. He wore a dark green T-shirt and shorts, breathed calmly, radiated courage and approached the scene with grave, calm, confident steps. 

- Is something wrong? -he repeated, seeing that the couple had turned around and were paying attention to him. 

- He wants to throw my purse into the canal! -The girl's voice took on an anguished tone, and suddenly she caught herself opening her heart to a stranger, "He's an envious, childish boy, meeting this lout was the worst mistake of my life! 

- Calm down. Come on, breathe with me: inhale, 1, 2, 3, exhale, 1, 2, 3. Okay, that's it," they both, as if hypnotized, played along. Breathe in, 1, 2... what are you doing?

The young man had lost the rhythm of his breathing and remembered his anger. He looked to the sides and took advantage of the lull to finish peering into the narrow, deep canal, whose water level was about two meters below the ground. And with a simple movement, he dropped the backpack. Then he turned, faced the girl's stunned gaze and adopted a contradictory expression, with a mixture of satisfaction and regret; he wanted to stay, to consolidate his triumph, but he could not stand the pressure and, before the stranger could react, he fled. She stayed, desolate and dejected, sat down on the grass and wept. 

- I'm so sorry," said the runnerThe young man's escape was a little closer, and he kept his attention on the young man's escape. 

- Inside the backpack... he knew it, why is he humiliating me like this? -There... there is the passport with which I was planning to travel next week to New York. What am I going to do now?

- What a pity what happened..." He kept silent for a few seconds and added, "Wait for me here, I have an idea.

- You're going after my boyfriend, or, well, now my ex, I guess.

- I think there's no need... I'll try to get your passport back," and, concentrating, he started to run.

            The floating backpack carried him a good distance. The runner He chased it, jumping over tree roots and dodging people, reached its height after 300 meters, jumped over the fence, lay down on the edge of the canal, but did not reach the lump with his arm. He didn't hesitate: he jumped up, went back to the road and kept running. Suddenly, under a tree, he saw a group of older gardeners enjoying their meals as if they were on an afternoon picnic and, next to them, lay a long pole with a basket on the end. "Excuse me, I need to rescue something." The good men nodded and the athlete continued on his route, holding something resembling a pole. The backpack had moved away, before long the park would be over and the bundle would reach the river, where it would be impossible to retrieve it. The man quickened his pace, advanced the target, jumped the fence again and, maneuvering the pole, positioned the basket on the surface of the water, waited, it was his last chance... and, well, he tackled the backpack. 

            When the young woman saw the man return with the backpack in his hands, she could not believe it, her excitement was almost uncontainable. She got up to receive it and mechanically sat down to check its contents. The passport was intact. Then he raised his head.

- Please give me your wasap," he said, taking his cell phone out of his pocket, "I'd like to bring you some gifts from New York. 

He smiled with sincere, paternal affection, but did not respond. 

- I see, you prefer anonymity, huh? That's fine. But at least tell me your name, I wouldn't want to forget you.

He nodded and, by way of farewell, replied:

- My name is José. 

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