What A Strange Little Man (Chapter 8, page 2 of 6)

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Chapter 8

Today was different, though. The shop owners saw me walking with someone who was clearly not a Roman. They took this as an invitation to sell their goods to us both. We played with some of them, acting like we were going to buy, or that we were interested in their product. We laughed, and actually bought a few things on the way through.

One shop owner, Cornelius, noticed my amulet. He approached us with a smile on his face. This was not uncommon for Cornelius for he was a very friendly fellow.

Just a little older than me, he was tall and slender with a short, well shaped beard, and a laugh you could recognize even in the noise of the marketplace. He wore fine clothing made of wool, and it was always bright in color. This was such a contrast to the normal garb worn in the marketplace, which was usually tan or brown in color as to hide the dirt and dust kicked up by the traffic.

"Well, well, Michael. I don't believe I have ever seen you walking with another man unless he was your prisoner. Who is your friend?" He asked, politely.

"Cornelius, this is Onesiphorus from Ephesus. He is here visiting a prisoner I have in my prison, and I thought I would extend a hearty Roman hospitality to him while he was here," I proclaimed, rather proudly.

"Really, you? You were showing hospitality?" He said, jokingly.

Cornelius and I played chess quite often when the marketplace business was slow. We had known each other for quite some time, and had a unique relationship.

"Yes, believe it or not, Romans can be friendly," I said, as I laughed.

Then he looked around, as if he were a spy or something, and whispered, "Where did you get that fine amulet?"

"I guess I had forgotten I was wearing it, my friend. If I told you how I acquired it, you would think me mad," I said, waving my hand in his face.

"I have been a vendor in this marketplace for many years, my friend, so I have seen and heard some pretty fantastic things," he assured me, hoping I would tell him where I got the amulet.

"Well, when I have a little more time I will enlighten you," I replied.

"Maybe over a nice game of chess?" he asked, "It's been a while since I let you win," he continued.

"Let me win?" I asked, "When have you ever let me win?"

"All the time, old friend, all the time," He said, as he noticed a customer approaching his table. "I'll talk to you later. I must sell my wares, you know."

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