He stood looking out across the Stadt Park; back in Vienna after so many years. He remembered it had been about this time of year. The skies were overcast, and a fine mist meandered through the park. The damp cold seemed to find ways to seep through his sweats as he jogged along the wet path, hop-scotching puddles. Russian crows were strutting through the carpet of leaves bordering the footpath. They flew to bare branches complaining in loud cacaws at his intrusion. He had stopped, hands on knees, catching his breath. He couldn’t stop thinking of her despite trying to run himself into unconsciousness.
Back at the K&K Hotel, he'd showered and dressed. He was early. She’d invited him to dinner . “Christmas dinner,” she’d said, although it wasn’t yet Christmas, and they wouldn’t spend Christmas together, ever, as it turned out. He'd paced the room for as long as he could stand it, and then left for her flat on Operngasse.
Garlands of lights were being strung across Kartnerstrasse. A tree had already been placed in the middle of the broad walk. On the Graben, workmen were struggling to erect a set of huge stars. The up-scale stores were setting up their Christmas decorations. He’d be leaving Vienna for Istanbul first thing in the morning. He'd miss the displays, the Kris Kringle Markt, and the caroling. And although he didn't know it at the time, he'd never again see the only woman he’d ever truly loved.