Across Continents

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Three bears gruff

Tok (2)

Something was wrong. Mike had his sizeable canister of bear spray resting on his handlebar bag. A young man sat on a large concrete block against which I’d leant my bicycle. I nodded to him as I approached. No response. Harmless perhaps, drawn to the our steads by innocent curiosity. Or other motives, an opportunist thief? There’d been nobody close by when I’d left Mike to look after the kit whilst I went to buy rations inside the supermarket.

Whatever the individual’s actual intentions, the presence of spray spoke loudly for Mike’s instincts. I trusted them, but didn’t want to inadvertently inflame the situation, choosing to firmly recount a tale illustrative of my willingness to take robust and ruthless action with miscreants. An indirect warning. Carefully chosen words. Emphasizing that if I were to draw my canister from its holster, the decision to deploy it has already been made. No hesitation.

Rations stowed, Mike and I headed off. The young man remaining motionless on top of the concrete block. Out of earshot, Mike explained what’d happened. Three men had started to drift towards him, stopping each time he’d looked up at them. Each resuming their steady if slow advance when he’d his back to them. Yes, I explained, there had been three men, one fairly young, the others a bit older, when I’d been guarding the bikes. But there’d been on the far side of the supermarket, sat on a bench, appearing innocent enough. Dismissed them as mostly harmless.

But, I suggested, the situation had obviously changed whilst I was inside stocking up. Reassured Mike it was always best to go with instincts. If something feels wrong, rather than just confused or uncertain, it usually is. Adding I’d learnt this the hard way. He’d guessed I’d realised things were amiss when I’d started to recount my little tale. Did I mean it? Yes, I said, with a grin.

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