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A Stranger In The Crowd

A Stranger In The Crowd
Ginny — 20 Sep 1998, 4:31 PM

Great start, Jules. Here's a contribution to complicate things a bit.

The distinguished looking older man moved surreptitiously through the crowd at the racetrack. He spoke to no one, waving off a slightly inebriated cowboy who tried to get his opinion on the favorite in the upcoming race. Pulling his expensive duster more tightly around him, he stopped briefly and scanned the faces of the people moving about him in a kaleidoscope of Race Day finery. He saw no one he immediately recognized, and so he resumed moving with the crowd toward the temporary grandstand.

Perhaps this trip to Voyager City to make amends for his past transgressions was a mistake. His Congressional aide Stadi thought it was a mistake. His second wife Marayna really thought it was a mistake. Even his minister, the Reverend Voth, thought it was a mistake. Only an old confidant of his from Academy days had expressed approval of this undertaking. In matter of fact, Boothby was of the strong opinion that it was a trip about 30 years overdue.

The man heard a voice call out that the riders were lining up for the big race. He moved along with the excited, murmuring racegoers, intending to find a seat in the stands and continue searching for familiar faces. As he made his way, he was suddenly compelled to take a couple of short, quick steps to the side to avoid stepping on a small child who had pulled away from her mother and was pushing through the forest of adult legs. The sideways movement caused the man to collide with someone else. Turning and looking at the individual he had bumped into, the man found himself staring into the face of a tall, handsome younger man with light brown hair and gray eyes. The older man gasped.

"Tom?" he inquired, his voice a combination of uncertainty and hopefulness.

A slight frown appeared between the young man's eyes, but then his face cleared, and he replied, "I'm sorry. You must have mistaken me for someone else." He held out his hand and smiled a charming, familiar smile. "I'm Nicholas Locarno."

A look of such profound disappointment crossed the man's face that Nick actually thought he might begin to cry. "I'm so sorry," the man murmured softly. "My mistake." And he turned and hurried off into the bustling crowd.