December 3rd, 2013
It was a bright sunny day. He stretched in bed, the bed sheets slid from his strong shoulders, uncovering him partially, enough to let some of his scars show. He rubbed his eyes, still filled with visions of his dreams, and looked at the deep blue sky that filled his entire window. Not a cloud. Uniformly blue. Royal.
He lay back down, and yawned again before getting up. He had a meeting he could not miss. He had been waiting for it for three months. Today was the day and the hour was approaching. He had not needed an alarm to wake up, his body was completely in sync with his needs, completely in sync with his life. He had never had a watch but had always known the exact time, to the minute. Some people are born with it. His father used to say it was God’s way of singling out the great minds. His father was a very pious man. He had never hurt a soul, never done anything to be sorry about. He used to wonder why his father insisted on going to confession once every month. He had nothing to confess!! He pitied the poor priest who had to listen to him on a monthly basis! Duh! What did he say? “Uh…, forgive me father for I have sinned, I have used the Good Lord’s name in vain? I have left a little spoon unwashed in the sink for two days? I have had thoughts about my wife!!” Really! Seriously! So that was his father and he had all these beliefs and one of them was that his only son was a gift from God, and had been sent to earth to do some great work and help humanity as a whole! …
You try to grow up with those expectations! All his friends were expected to bring decent grades from school, but he, no, he had to save the world and save his friends from Armageddon.
He had no friends.
No one ever came back after the first time and the first meeting with his father.
So he pretended he had, not to hurt his father’s feelings and not to ruin his illusions of grandeur.
He used to get out of the house every day pretending he was invited by some imaginary friend or other or had to go save an unworthy creature of god. Instead he would run and hide in a cinema. Some films he saw as many as thirty times, especially on rainy days when it was too wet to walk around and save the snails.
At some point he got fed up with regular cinema and starting going to the ’adult’ movies in the basement.
He soon became totally addicted and stopped going to school for a while. Until that too bored him; the girls were always the same, ditto with the positions, and the dialogues. The male attributes were not his thing, had never been, so he stopped going there too.
He started going to the municipal library instead, where he read every book he could lay his hands on.
Today was his birthday. He was 30. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the fields extended endlessly from his porch. He went to the shower and blanked his mind of all thoughts. He felt the water drops gliding on his skin, he filled himself with the smell of lavender coming from the soap. This was to be his real baptism. He felt reborn this morning. His life would start again after his meeting.
He stepped out of the shower, put on a white shirt and a pair of jeans. He put on his jacket and took his car keys from the hook on the wall. He took a last look around the house before stepping out. Once in the car he remembered he had forgotten to turn off the lights in the kitchen. He did not have time to go back in so he ignited his car and drove off towards his destiny.
After an hour and half drive, he parked his car in front of a small church in an abandoned village. All its houses had been burned down, the cow sheds were hopelessly empty, as were the houses. The only building still standing – ‘building’ was probably too big a word, it was a shack really – was the village church. He never understood why or who had taken the decision to spare it.
He walked down towards the sea, straight as an “i”, with a purpose. He felt confident now that he had taken the matters in his hands. The man he was meeting told him he would be waiting by the jetty. The wind was getting chilly but he was not cold.
When he got to the end of the jetty he saw the man he had come to meet. He had not changed. He looked like him but thinner and less toned. He looked passably pissed off too. He had a basket full of oysters at his feet. That was his job. Oysters. He did not understand how a man can fish oysters for a living. How boring! If his father only knew. Instead of saving the universe, the man was conspiring to eat it!
When he got to where the man stood, they greeted each other coldly. His double gave him the envelope he had come to get. They looked each other in the eyes and before he had had time to say anything he saw his father emerge from the anchored boat and walk up to them.
“Hey. That was not part of the deal!” He told his twin brother Number 2. That was his name.
He, on the other hand, had always been Number one. Number Two had been sent to fish oysters from the day he could walk while Number One got the royal treatment from their father.
Number one had managed to bluff the old man until he was led to jail by police officers, handcuffed. He will never forget the look on his father’s face that day. It was such a big disappointment, he was the disappointment, not because he had killed someone, but because he had crushed his father’s dreams. He had shoved him his mistake to his face. He should have picked number two. Not him. Number Two was doing good. Always happy, filled with oysters and joy. He would feed the hungry and donate any extra penny he made from his sales to the church. His father had searched for him after Number One was led to jail.
In a way Number One was happy: he could now stop with the lying. But what about his dream? The one that had kept him sane and fed him hope all those years he spent in jail: to take over Number Two’s flourishing business and regain his father’s respect, no matter how, and that is what he had come to do, and that is what Number Two had agreed to, after some very and some less explicit threats. That is what he had come to settle today. He had not anticipated his father being there too. It was not part of the deal!
How he later found himself sitting on a low chair and agreeing to all his father and brother’s demands, he would never be able to explain.
The only form of protest he expressed was on his plate: … he never ate oysters again.
(December 3rd, 2013)
Alex S David