When the Pope Wears Black – an Encounter

When the Pope Wears Black - an Encounter

I had just landed in Rome (FCO) late at night. The airport wasn’t bustling like the last time; only a few people scattered around. “Great, he’s not picking up. He didn’t even reply to my text, where on Earth is he? I hope he’s coming to pick me up,” I got frustrated as time passed and there was no reply from my friend. I decided to look out for my own. I had the address; it was the same bed & breakfast as the last time, close to the Vatican. Now, I had to find someone to drop me off because there’s no Uber in Rome, and self-driving wasn’t an option for me. I tried my luck with a few but nobody spoke English. Then I met the old gentleman who said the strangest thing to me, “My daughter was supposed to come but she isn’t coming anymore, so, I’ll drop you”.

I got inside the car and we drove off. We didn’t speak to each other on the way, not because his English wasn’t clear but because there was something peculiar about him. I preferred not to have a conversation and surprisingly I wasn’t even grateful for his sincerity. He dropped me in front of the gigantic gate; oh! I remembered that gate because I struggled so much the last time, it took all my might to open it. I thanked him and offered to pay but he refused. I stood in front of the building, checked my phone “Still no reply”, rang the bell for the bed & breakfast. No one opened for a while, I was shivering in the cold, kept cursing my friend in my head or maybe out loud, I don’t exactly remember and there she was – the same lady from the last time, she opened the door.

“Do you not need to see my passport,” I asked.

“No need,” she replied with a blank expression.

I was happy about getting the same room as last time. I could see the Vatican wall from my window. I got ready for bed. As tired as I was, I wanted to speak to him “God knows what’s wrong with this guy. If I meet him tomorrow, I’ll be so mad at him.”

I didn’t realize when I had fallen asleep. I checked the time on my phone “2’o clock! How can it still be night? I was sleeping for hours, at least I felt like I did. I feel fresh but how can it be only 2’o clock?” With numerous questions in my head, I got up and took a shower. “I can’t believe he still hasn’t texted me, he’s so dead.” Although it was the middle of the night, I got ready for the day and left the b&b.

I started walking toward the Vatican; an eerie quiet followed me. All the windows were closed; it felt like all the apartments were vacant, I was the only person alive in Rome. I kept walking. As I reached St. Peter’s Square, I looked at the sky – a full moon gleaming with its subtle silver aura. I didn’t stop; I went inside the Basilica. I couldn’t believe myself. No one! There was no one but me! After a few steps, there he was! I had chills down my spine, something inside my throat stopped me from speaking, I made an absurd sound that could be compared to a duck’s quack or a bird’s chirp or something in between. I was speechless. I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was dressed in Black! He looked me in the eye as if he was waiting for me. He said something I didn’t understand; Spanish, Italian? Was it an excerpt from a sermon? Was he praying? Was he warning me? I understood nothing but I could feel it and all I felt was fear.

I felt like running away…then I saw him standing there; behind him. My friend looked at me hopelessly. He understood what the Pope said and I could tell, it wasn’t something to be happy about. His eyes were hauntingly downhearted.

***

I woke up and checked my phone; it was 2’o clock!

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