Chapter 2 The Glasses

Dad waves him off and turns to walk away.

The man’s eyes drop and then his eyes light up. He fumbles through his jacket pocket and says, “Want to see magic?”

Dad slumps his shoulders, turns back and says, “Only if it’s great.”

The man hands me a shiny black fossil, the size of a two Euros coin.

“Okay, it’s a trilobite. Big wup,” I say.

The man makes the trilobite reappear and disappear with a sleight of hand that makes Dad wary as he touches for his wallet.  This trick is well beyond my Uncle Dan’s ploy of pulling a coin out of my ear!

The man smiles and, big surprise, doesn’t ask for money!

Then he pulls out a pair of glasses from his shabby sport-jacket. I expect to hear the same pitch the guys make in Baixa.

“They special glasses. Better than Google glasses,” he says with the accent that sounds Portuguese or maybe … Russian. Lisbon has over 100,000 east European immigrants, many of them speak Russian.

Dad says, “Yah right. Let’s go Pete. Thanks for your magic trick.”

“Wait, look at the fossil bug through the glasses,” and shoves the trilobite and the glasses into my hands.

I inspect the trilobite with what appear to be sunglasses and I can see a blue aura in the shape of a bug with many legs around the ancient trilobite.

“Wow, that’s amazing!”

“You like,” he smiles.

Dad takes the glasses and looks at the fossil. “Yah, that’s neat. What is it?”

“It is Kirlian[1] technology from Russia. It have T-ei  e-M  e-S too. Very strong. For you, very cheap.”

“How much?” I ask.

“Two hundreds Euros.”

Dad says, “No way,” shoving the glasses back at the man.

“I want to try the glasses on something different,” I intercept them.

“Pete, you can’t be serious!”

I note that the building next to us has Moleanos[2] stone sills. Found all over Portugal, these sills are filled with two hundred-million year old fossils. I walk with the glasses and examine the fossils in the sills. They have the same blue glow as the trilobite. Cool!

“I’ll give you one hundred Euros.”

Dad says, “That’s your vacation money and we’re just at the beginning.” He shifts from foot to foot and I can tell he’s agitated or had too much coffee.

“I know, but these glasses are worth it.”

The Russian peddler replies, “Too low! One hundred eighty.”

I counter, “One hundred and fifty.”

He winces, “Deal”.

I open my wallet and hand him one-hundred and fifty Euros as Dad watches.

I ask Dad to put the glasses in his shirt pocket and we walk towards Baixa. We glance back and the man is gone. Dad and I pass a few store fronts with women’s clothing and stop to view a man with his dancing Chihuahua.

Three men run up to us.  I’m startled. Two look Portuguese and one Eastern European, like the man I bought the glasses from.

“Polícia, stop! You buy contrabando[3] from man in azul[4] jacket in Rossio. Come with us,” snaps the shortest one.

I blurt out, “If you’re the Polícia, show us your badges.” I repeat, “Show us your badges. Show us your badges.”

None of the men are in uniform. One says to the others, “Querem os nossos cartões.” (He’s saying, I’m asking for their identification cards, I figure out.)

Dad looks at the tallest one straight in the eyes with his sternest expression. I giggle inside.

I circle them now pointing, “Imposters, no badges, you’re not Polícia!” with my menacing Venice Beach, California muscle shirt.

People are looking our way while others are gathering their children. The Chihuahua stops dancing and his owner looks over.

The three men glance at each confused because we’ve called their bluff. They aren’t police.

We retreat through the calçada streets to the Baixa/Chiado metro station.

Wysked away on the Metro

I sit on the purple cloth seat of the squealing metro car feeling this vacation is going to be different.


[1] Kirlian- Kirlian photography was invented in Russia during the 1970s. Kirlian aura is the glow at the surface of an object with an electrical field.

[2] Moleanos- Fossil laden stone used for construction

[3] Contrabando- illegal good

[4] Azul- Blue

Read Chapter 3 The Drive to the Lagoa

2 thoughts on “Chapter 2 The Glasses

  1. Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the images on this blog loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.


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