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  • It had been the usual hot, humid day of the tropics. Susanne was walking home from work. Four blocks away from the bus stop she walked. Monday through Friday. Most the times, the unyielding heat kept the streets deserted, but in the evenings the street had a few groups hanging outside. The red wedges were comfortable. You couldn't feel the heat from the sidewalk through them. She walked briskly, there was always the fear of confronting the boys from the neighborhood. Ogling and hootering didn't bother her, but the fact they felt threatening, every time she walked past the park made her uncomfortable and uneasy. She tried to think about how good the day at work had been. Rachel and Liliana had oh'd and ah'd at her wedges. Even the boss managed to throw a compliment. To top it off, the people over the phone had not been rude. Not a bad day at all.
    Past the group of younger boys, skateboards and basketballs. The whistling was ignored. But hanging at the corner of the park where she crossed the street, stood the older thugs. Wondering if they ever stayed home, tired from a hard days' work, the young lady with the red shoes slowed down. She recognized the parole tracking bracelets on the ankles of a couple of them. Never could understand why guys wore socks with sandals...and shorts...ugh
    A couple of them stood directly in her path. Susanne tightened her grip on her purse and as she was about to cross the street to avoid them, they moved on to the grass to let her pass. The heat had not been bothering her after she got off the bus, but now she felt sweat trickling down her back. Suddenly, a rough hand grabbed her arm, making her spin around with fear showing in her eyes. The guy seemed like he had not shaven in a few days. He looked youthful but the dark spots under his eyes and his dry, cracked lips definitely made him look older and beaten. His white T-shirt had stains and his shorts were definitely sagging. He managed a friendly smile and handed Susanne a white silk rose.
    *For the most beautiful girl in the neighborhood..." he said. His chums approved. She smiled and walked on. She looked back, before walking in to the apartment complex. The guy was beaming and laughing among his peers.

    ...not a bad day at all.
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