At first, I could only hear the sound made by something being dragged on the pavement. Then I saw her and her enormous broken suitcase. She noticed me looking at her and after a couple of seconds of uncertainty she opened the door of the shop and got in.

Sorry, may I ask you something?, she said.

Before I could answer, she went ahead:

Do you know where I could use a phone? I need to leave a message for someone in the US.

Hmm… The post office!, I offered. I am sure you could do that there.

I quickly checked my time and realized they might’ve closed already. I was just about to close the shop and leave myself. The woman watched me and then said:

Just the post office?


OK, then. She turned her back at me and, with ample gestures began turning her suitcase around and made towards the door.

But if you keep it short, you could use my phone as well.

Do you think so? She replied. You wouldn’t mind?

No problem… If you keep it short. And gave her the phone.

I am in Vienna now and I wanted to call you because I had to tell you a couple of things. Johnny, you have to grow up! You have to grow up and be the man you should be! Say good bye to Pretty Baby! Send her away! She had enough running your life like that. Running it and ruining it. You should know what is best for you! You have to show her and all the others who you are. You have to do it! You have to start all over again. Just be a man, for God’s sake! Why can’t you be a man? I am going to the Embassy right now. That’s where you can reach me. The American Embassy in Vienna. I will be there and I will be waiting for your call. You call me, you hear that? You better call me! Johnny… Why did you have to do that, Johnny? Why? Didn’t you like it? What did Pretty Baby do to you? Why did you let her come back? She’s nothing but a… Oh, forget it! I better hang up now. I better… are you there? Are you listening to me right now? Why don’t you pick up? Pick up! You know? It will get cold in Vienna…. And I am waiting for you. But I’m running out of money waiting for you. When are you going to make up your mind? Are you ever going to come? Was it just a game? Did she tell you to do this? Of course, that’s it! You just wanted to get rid of me, didn’t you? Get rid of ME! Here I am telling you to dump Pretty Baby and you actually dumped me! Well, that’s clever! You listen mister! You better call me today! I will be at the Embassy.

She hung up, handed me the phone, said thank you and turned to pick up her huge broken suitcase. The loud noise from dragging it on the pavement faded slowly away. That was almost a month ago. Today I saw her again. This time without her suitcase. The look on her face told me Johnny failed to call her. Busy with Pretty Baby, I gather. Somewhere in the States, playing The Sound of Music over and over again.