“Can you guide me to the station,” he asked.
His eyes were blinking rapidly expecting a quick revert.
The other guy, looked at this strange man from head to toe, moving his head along with the gaze, the smoke of the half-finished cigarette still fluttering inside his mouth as he sighed aloud and nodded his head, feeling a little uncomfortable with how this strange man moved his eyes.
“Go straight, take the first left, straight again for another 50 metres, and the station would be on the right, shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.”
He spoke like a professional, giving an impression as if he was an expert in giving directions; the quick blinking slowed down now, and the strange man reached out for his wallet.
“I like the way you speak,” he replied and for a moment his eyes completely stopped blinking; pulling out a pound from his old wallet, he placed it on his hands, and with a slight bow of the head, continued walking straight as he was instructed.
The man on the street stared at him, threw away the cigarette, and wondered who this man was, but before he could ask and even before he could pull his head up after a glance at the bill in his hand, he disappeared.
“Crazy,” he murmured, feeling the pound in his hand, glancing around, he placed it swiftly in his pocket.
The other man though was now closer to the station.
“Wow, this is a real friendly place,” he thought, taking the first left; his long, unbuttoned coat swayed in the air, as he picked up speed.
The strange yellow trousers under that heavy black overcoat and an orange tie did make him an outcast and add to it a heavy foreign accent and unusual haste to leave, accentuated by rapid blinking of eyes and shaking of the head, he could make one feel as if he was on a mission to reach somewhere before anyone could.
He looked at his watch, the time read, 10:20 A.M.
“Wow, he was spot on”
The thought, flashed in his mind as he looked up to stare at the signboard directing inside the station.
“Yeah,” he shouted jubilantly as if done with level 1 in a game.
“Excuse me, I need to visit the queen,” he asked the man at the ticket counter, the eyes still blinking rapidly, as he straightened his orange tie and stared at the clerk, who also stared back with puzzled eyes and a subtle smile.
“I am sorry,” he spoke in his usual home accent.
“I am visiting the queen, you know, get me the ticket to the nearest station to her palace,” he replied in a hurried tone.
‘The queen must be expecting you, huh,’ he replied sarcastically while taking his money and punching some keys; the loud thump as he put his hands down was probably audible even to the marshal standing a few feet behind the visitor.
“Yes, I think so and I don’t want to make her wait,” the strange man replied with a straight face.
“Hmm, here it is,” the clerk slid the ticket towards him and seeing him leave, sighed out loudly;
“Crazy, lunatics,” turned around to glance at the clock and wondered how quickly the times are changing.
The man though was quickly gone.
“Ohh, it seems like everyone wants to meet the old lady,” he murmured, seeing a large crowd at the platform.
“How much time for the Buckingham palace,” he asked a young lady, standing near the door and shaking her legs while humming a soft tune, busy in her world.
“I am sorry,” she replied, startled by the question, the heavy accent, and an unusual appearance of a stranger.
However, she quickly took a long breath in, and smiled before speaking in a soft tender voice;
“From here to Green Park in 10 and from there another 5 minutes, I believe,” she guided him, with a suppressed smile.
“I got an important date, you know,” he whispered, the eyes now blinking a little slowly.
“Hmmm, I understand,” she replied, slightly awe-struck by this foreign but affable man with an air of innocence around him.
“And what are you carrying here,” she asked pointing at a small bag in his hands.
The man immediately hid it in the large pockets of the coat, the eyes now started to blink rapidly, as he flashed an embarrassing grin, accompanied by an awkward nod of the head; suddenly he began looking on the opposite side to avoid making eye contact with the lady.
“Don’t worry, you don’t have to tell,” she assured, trying to make him comfortable.
He, however, remained quiet, nodding his head, but unwilling to speak anything now.
“Here’s the station, fist left, straight for about 50 metres and the palace would be on your left outside,” she spoke, with a smile, as he rushed out of the tube and into the Sunday crowd.
Walking swiftly, he now stood in front of the palace; the small bag remained, safely ensconced inside the coat’s pocket.
He was, however, surprised to see the queen’s guard on the gate, standing tall as if asking the visitors to think twice before even approaching them.
“I need to visit the queen,” the man, went up straight, with no fear or hesitation.
He was almost there and now nothing could stop him from meeting the queen after all.
The guard, however, remained unresponsive; a tourist standing nearby, though held him by the shoulders, pushed aside, and whispered,
“Are you out of your mind, huh.”
“I am perfectly normal and fine,” he protested, running his hands through the thick dishevelled crop on his head.
“No one gets to meet the queen,” the tourist, stressed again; his wise words though seemed ineffective, as he pulled out fresh gloves from his coat’s pocket, quickly wore them, and turned to the guards again.
“I need to meet the queen,” he requested again.
“And it’s urgent too,” he now whispered getting closer and trying to reach the ears of the tall guard.
The guard immediately gestured to the cops in plain clothes as the man found himself pinned to the ground immediately and was taken to the police room.
“Who are you,”
“Show your credentials,” the policemen asked, as his eyes started to blink even more rapidly now.
The hands were still hiding the small packet inside his coat’s pocket when one of the cops noticed his unusual hand movements.
“Hey, you put your hands behind your head,” he shouted and asked him to divulge what was there inside his pockets.
“I can’t,” he, however, remained adamant; his entire body though was shaking now.
“Open it,” another police officer asked, as the cop ripped open the small white carry bag after pulling it out of his pockets.
Everyone looked at it with wide eyes, waiting to discover what it was.
“What this,” he was asked again.
“I will only tell the queen,” he continued protesting.
‘Tell us right now or you will face consequences you can’t even imagine,” he was threatened again.
“I can’t,” he, however, remained as obstinate, while loosening his orange tie.
“Ok, what if the queen tells you on the phone, will you tell us,” asked another cop softly and politely, seeing his stubbornness.
The man looked at the cop and tried reading his facial expressions to decide if he was speaking the truth. He, however, didn’t have much of a choice and reluctantly nodded his head to agree.
“Hello,” spoke a female voice on the other end of the phone which was put on the loudspeaker.
“What did you get for me”
“Ohh, the queen,” he said and kneeled on the floor, his eyes staring at the phone’s speaker as he spoke.
“It’s a gift for you,” he said softly, staring at the ground.
“But what it is,” she persisted.
“Something, which will make you look much younger; like an 18-year-old again,” he whispered trying to be as discreet in that open room conversation.
“Great, thank you”
“Give it to these cops on my behalf,” she said and the phone disconnected.
The man was immediately deported to his home country afterward.
He, however, continues to enthrall people telling them, how he spoke with the queen and how much she liked his gift.
“I know the queen,” would always be the way, he would open his conversation, with everyone, the people he knew, or the ones he was meeting for the first time.