An Incident in a Service Station on the M6

He looked like an old bloke, his teeth slipped as he spoke,
the face mouthed words through an open window
his smile drew me towards the car,
‘You speak Italian?’ he demanded, ‘You look Italian’.

He opened the case on the passenger seat,
‘You want a watch?’ I saw his deep tan
and trim figure, which belied his age,
‘You have wife?’ and put a second watch into a bag.

I was captured, try as I might I was caught fast,
like a wasp drowning in a jam-jar of sweetened water,
my mind raced, when was the sting to be drawn?
‘How much money you have?’ he said and broke the spell.

Too late a third watch was proffered, it glittered much more
than its brothers. He knew he had lost, in desperation
the words tumbled out ‘I have to go to London,
I lost much money at the Casino, money for fuel?. Please,

you like this? Is worth five hundred English pounds.’
I backed away, returned the bag and recovered
my equilibrium ‘I have a nice watch, thankyou’
I pulled my worn sleeve, showed off my battered Rotary.

His nerve was broken, I saw him give me a baleful look,
it was too rich for comfort, too much a hint of danger,
something for nothing, I sipped my cappuccino
and wished I had bought that cake, with fake cream, and jam.

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