The American

I followed him. Tit for tat, eh? Two can play at that game, and all that.

After getting a bit fed up yesterday, I decided to go to the nice deli on Byres Road and buy myself a wee treat for dinner. So many of my clients think that to be fit you need to control your eating and not enjoy food, but I’m the biggest foodie going. That’s the main reason I don’t really eat junk: nothing to do with being ‘good’, it’s that there’s so many better things out there to eat. And I don’t mean salads (though I make some amazing salads); give me a homemade steamed treacle pudding over some bag of tasteless sweets any day.

Well that diversion distracted me for a good few seconds, hope you enjoyed it too.

So I was just coming out the deli with all sorts of yum spiced meats and cheeses that stank half way to Edinburgh, when I saw him. Our friendly neighbourhood mysterious American.

He must have been coming from Cara’s, I recognised one of her takeaway boxes.

I could have shouted to stop him. If I’m going to talk to him, surely in the middle of a road packed with uni students and hipsters in broad daylight would be my best bet? But for some reason I didn’t. I just want to know a bit about him first.

He cut through the Botanical Gardens, and down to the walkway that runs along the River Kelvin. I’ve always loved it down there. When I was wee, Granny and I used to a walk along it after chapel on a Sunday, and she would tell me I needed to be quiet in case I disturbed the fairies. Even though I realised years ago it was a way to get a chatterbox wee girl to give her a few minute’s peace, a tiny part of me still believes there might well be fairies hidden in the lush green foliage (thanks, 300-odd days of rain a year!) that lines the sleepy riverbank.

The pathway was busy enough with joggers and the odd mum with a buggy that I didn’t feel too conspicuous as I followed the American. I just realised that calling him that makes him sound way more mysterious. Nate, Cara says his name is. As I followed Nate. He’s just a person. Whatever it is he might know about me or where I’ve been, he is just some wee guy.

As rivers go, the Kelvin follows what I imagine must be one of the odder courses. I would have imagined that most rivers go more or less in one direction, but the Kelvin moseys right through Glasgow, turning this way and that, then randomly veers back on itself to head out towards the Campsies. Then – though it’s split by then and isn’t called the Kelvin, though it’s still kind of the same water – it doubles back again to head west towards the Trossachs – and Ben Lomond.

Now, it would take anyone yonks to walk all that way, and it would be the daftest route to get to Ben Lomond ever – in fact, I’m far from sure there’s a path the whole way.

But even knowing all that, when we reached the Glasgow Golf Club and started to wind east, my heart leapt into my mouth and my old buddies the pins and needles started to have a party in my fingers.

The path was also a lot quieter by then even though we were still in the city, and I hung back even further, only just glimpsing the American as he strode along purposefully. I didn’t like it, and it pissed me off that I didn’t like it. Me, who loves nothing better than to grab my backpack and head off into the wilderness totally alone. Who’s hiked along precarious ridges and spotted walkers miles below in the glen and been slightly annoyed at them crowding me.

Who was relieved to spot a couple of portly “as I said to the Lord Provost the other day” types golfing nearby, and hoped they would hear if I called out to them.

Sort yourself out, Linley.

I was so lost in these thoughts that I didn’t notice the American had stopped, and nearly caught up with him.

He was looking about furtively, and I just managed to shrink back into a pretty manky bush before he spotted me. I watched him through the rotting leaves as he lifted up what turned out to be a loose fern branch, to reveal an ingenious wee den. It wasn’t your standard homeless shelter, it looked more like the kind of thing you’d build in the woods to earn a Brownie Guide badge. I could just glimpse thin shoots woven together to form a solid windbreak, covered by ferns and other bits of evergreen for protection and warmth. It looked quite toasty, and when he pulled the main fern back over him, he was totally invisible from the pathway.

I stood a minute or two, filled with indecisiveness. Somehow, I couldn’t be quite as scared of a fellow outdoorsy geek, but now it felt intrusive to disturb him at home, as it were. Just then the rain came on, which made up my mind for me. I turned and headed for home. I’ll talk to him at Cara’s. Soon.



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