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The last time I saw Maisie

2009, Cork Ireland

On American Thanksgiving Day I went for a long walk eastward in Cork City south of the river. I'd been along the water to Pier Head, so this time I took a more inland route.

I followed Blackrock Road, pretty much, and decided I'd go to the bakery again. This was an incidental goal, based upon the question of where I was going to walk.

Somebody there had told me that one of the owners works on Tuesdays and Thursdays.... But I was just going for a walk.

I discovered "McCarthy's Folly," a 30-foot limestone obelisk with porcelain tiles and copper medalions and gargoyles that don't spout any water. It was built in either 1861 or 1870, or some other time — and commemorates either a dog; the mayor who was the brother of the guy who built it; the victims of a collapse at the "amethyst mine' (which was really a limestone quarry, in which there was some amythyst [and for which "diamond hill" is named;]) or some other variation of any of these and/or other hypotheses... maybe.

Further on, I noticed a smartly-dressed elderly man over at the Topaz filling station fueling up a pristine gold Volkswagon bug, from the old days. 1974, he told me. He'd had it repainted and re-upholstered. It was all faithfully done, and was really a view into the past (except with the steering wheel on the other side.)...

The man told me a secret about buying a car in Ireland. Buy an old car, he said. 30 years or older. Your insurance and taxation will be much cheaper.

I went to the bakery and asked the man at the counter if he was an owner of the place. He was. I wondered if they ever think about hiring a baker. We do, he said. After Christmas.

That evening, I went and stopped Maisie when she got off work at the restaurant where she was doing washup. I'd met Maisie in August, at the hostel where I stayed until I found an apartment. She was in town to work and save money for a trip that was important to her.

I told Maisie something personal and foolish and awkward, that evening. She said "no."

I told her, kind of incidentally, that I thought I'd found a job. She smiled beautifully. I told her about my walk, that day — and I told her about my inspiration — get a job, get a car, and when she comes back to Ireland, I could come and see her. She lit up.

She agreed to see me the next day.

The next evening, during a short walk, I had to say goodbye to her, for several months.

I never saw her again.

I worked at the Natural Foods Bakery for several months until the health department threatened action and the owners shut down production.