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  • “Danny, can I ask you something personal?”

    Moses had lifted off his white, oversized sunglasses and was looking directly into my face. Three days had passed since he had come to my psychological rescue after I was mugged, but it seemed like more. We had developed a playful rapport, chatting about everything from our favourite musicians to religious beliefs. When posing questions, Moses tended to look me dead in the eyes, a habit that was both refreshingly friendly and uncomfortably intimate at the same time. Our conversations had always felt candid, so I was taken aback when he requested permission to ask something personal.

    “Um . . . sure, Moses,” I responded, pulling off my Ray-Ban knock-offs. “You can ask me anything.” My mind raced through a list of potential subjects that he might be interested in broaching.

    “Do you smoke the doobie?” he asked in all seriousness.

    I chuckled at this earnest inquiry, and paused to consider my response. Was this an invitation to light up with him? Or a critical examination of my moral standards?

    “Well, my friend,” I finally replied, “I have smoked in the past. But these days my drugs of choice are more along the lines of merlot and espresso.”

    Moses smiled, exposing a shiny gold tooth. “Yeah, brah. Red wine is good.”

    He brought his sunglasses back down over his eyes. And I positioned mine back on my face. For a while we sat in silence, turning our faces toward the light, resuming our still, mannequin-like poses. A biting wind zigzagged along the avenue. In the distance a police siren sounded. The South African sun was intensely bright. But we had those sunglasses.
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