by Bob Merckel
She was crouched over a workstation, two computers down from me at an Internet cafe on Edgeware Road. The neighborhood is affectionately known as "Little Beirut," and it's hardly uncommon to see women wrapped up in various forms of head and face scarves, so I hadn't paid her much heed. At least not until I noticed she kept looking my way, like a neurotic secret agent who was paranoid I was cribbing her state secrets. With each sideways glance, she'd pull her shawl down over her head, a toddler hiding under her I can't see you so you can't see me magic blanket. Only then did I notice her hands, dancing away on the rented keyboard, covered in smudgy surgical gloves that seemed two sizes too big. What was she avoiding - picking up germs or leaving fingerprints?
Bob Merckel, author of Really?, lives in London, teaches English, and scribbles stories - the likes of which can be found in Tales of the Decongested, Shaggy Blog Stories (and on his blog).