“Can I help you?” the man stands near the freshly parked pick-up I’ve just walked by. A woman watches from the house, unsmiling.
I stop and turn, the exit a stone’s throw away. “I don’t think so.”
“Private property,” he says, not advancing.
“I thought these were vacation rentals.” Indeed there are no Private Property signs or No Trespassing signs. The only sign, near the gate, is a small TVNC plaque with numbers.
“Private property,” he repeats. “You’re trespassing.”
Hand to heart, “I’m so sorry.”
He’s not impressed. “Did you come from the beach?”
“Go back,” he waves toward the ocean. It’s a long way around. Miles. Thus the shortcut.
I look at him. “No, I’m going this way.” I turn my back on him and climb through the hole in the hedge. I am polite and leaving, though a bougainvillea thorn draws blood. Karma?
“Next time I’ll call the police,” he shouts over the wall, out of sight, but his voice is no closer.
“Okay,” I shout back, walking to my bike locked to a utility pole near the road. I do not rush, nor does my heart race, though I am listening. But the gate does not open, so I mount Queenie and pedal away.
Aha: I can disagree without shaking all over.
Aha: I did not hide or ignore him.
Aha: I was not scared of him. Alert, yes, but not obedient.
Aha: I feel fine. No adrenaline, no defensiveness, no fear.
Weird. Wonderful. Progress.