“Will you let go of my ear?”, I asked. It was an innocent question, or so I thought.
“Please, Jon, that’s hurting like hell, that is!”
You ignored me, and for some thirty seconds more, you kept on pulling my ear, twisting it slightly.
By now, I had already lost all sense of feeling, and if it hurt, then I no longer felt it.
I did feel a certain shame out of being dragged halfway across town by my ear.
You stopped, pulling my ear nevertheless, and looked at me as if you were seeing me for the first time, cold, cold as winter in July and said, “You and me. Your place. Sleep. Tomorrow, we talk.”
We got in the cab, and were halfway to mine pretty soon.
The cabbie tried to make conversation, because football is always something good to talk about, but neither your temper nor my being roaring drunk helped much.
We got out of the taxi, and for no apparent reason you tip the cabbie.
And people call me crazy.
We walked the rest of the way, there was some repair work being done near the street where I lived that kept the taxi from getting us nearer.
We walked in silence, and when we got to my place, you asked for a blanket so you could sleep on the couch.
I went to my bedroom, found an old blanket, gave I to you; you lied down without a word, and were asleep soon after.
I confess, I did not spend much time wondering about what the hell all this was about, I was feeling tired, too.
So I went to the kitchen, and in my fridge I found half a six-pack of beers, which is just a somewhat stupid way of saying three beers, now that I think about it.
I had one because I was thirsty, another for you (and here’s to you, Jon!), and the other because then I’d have nothing cluttering my admittedly very empty fridge, and above all, just because.
While I was drinking, I notice that the white in the kitchen, the light reflected on the the also very white walls, was strangely akin to that of the hospital that I so recently got out of.
I went to bed, beyond knackered, and I don’t even remember falling asleep.
‘I had made my way past the mountains that even now were to my back, and I was walking through green and desolate hills; these hills had the faces of long dead and forgotten deities.
The wind was howling, in the truest sense of the word, for the wind was a pack of wolves, an enormous pack of wolves that was running in and above me, whispering names and words in incomprehensible tongues, uttering the truths that might be within our grasp, if only we let go of our tethers.’
‘Suddenly I decided that the wind made by the frantic running of the wolves was too strong, and so I changed my course, heading nowhere, looking for something that I had meanwhile forgotten. I found myself in the city of Coimbra, in the train station, but though everything and everyone there were modern-day, the station itself seemed to have been built in the 17th century by some visionary genius who thought that heated pools peopled both by animals and, well, people was all the rage. I also saw that I had no money, and could not go back home.’
‘In the midst of all this disorientation, I saw that I was not in fact in Coimbra, but in Cascais, and I was in a garden right in the middle of the town, but wait, no I’m really in a garden in Lisbon, and there is a fair here, a most curious fair where the salesmen are dwarves that rode dogs as if they were horses, and oh, they were selling all those toys I had as a child, the ones I always wanted but could never have, and all my books, the ones that got burned when my house burned down, but I wasn’t there alone, there were some friends of mine there, a couple over there looked familiar… Is that Snow? Yes, but he’s older, now. And somewhat shallow, too, it seems to me. He’s with a girl that I never seen before, but that smile, that smile…
I’ll ask her what her name is, I decided.’
‘But suddenly my cell starts to ring, and it’s a very old model, one of those that you had to carry around in a case, and someone told me that I must go to Lisbon international airport immediately to cover live the breaking news : the first real Transformer was had been developed, and it was a Space Shuttle.
On my way to the airport, though, I decide to get a new suit, something pretty, and warm too; it was winter, and very cold.
As I make my way to a shopping centre, I see that the entrance is full of beggars selling big balls of wool.
I’m headed towards a door, where a beggar, who was so ragged and filthy even other beggars stayed away from her, and who was so old, and with such an irritating voice, sidles up to me so she could get in with me.
A blonde woman who was right behind us, who appeared to be obscenely rich, was telling her also blond and very tanned friend how she spent a fortune in a trifle; saying so with enormous pride.
Me and the beggar looked all around us, and saw all those dozens?hundreds? no, thousands of people who even if they whored themselves in a corner would not have money enough for a warm meal, and after hearing such a ridiculous conversation, we could only laugh.’
‘So the obnoxious beggar and I got into the mall, walking side by side, and she tried to make small talk with me; she wanted to know what I did, where I came from, where I lived… out of a question of courtesy, I gave her my name, just so she would stop talking to me.
I badly wanted her to go away, so I could go and buy my suit, but no, she wouldn’t go away.
I see Jon coming from somewhere, again with that girl with the great smile; she does a hair-flip; I have to know this girl’s name now, but I have to go get a newspaper first…’
‘I arrive in the newsagent, it was huge, cavern-like, and so people wouldn’t read stuff and then not pay for them, they chose to work under the dimmest of lights.
Suddenly I’m in the airport, hundreds of engineers scurrying around, running to and fro, as if they were ants, to ready the Transformer.
Now is the time, ladies and gentlemen, you will believe in the impossible, what we were about to see was beyond our ken.
It would all have been much more impressive, I suppose, if it didn’t all boil down to just a few hundred guys making a space shuttle out of legos.’
‘I was just about to leave this fiasco when I notice that there three guys there who were stark naked, huge, impossibly huge penises hanging heavily, and they wanted to sodomize me.
The mutant-dicks ran after me, and wanted so bad to catch me so they could then sell me to a bunch of gays that had their eyes on me : they wanted to make an eunuch out of me, to be cut at their own leisure, so I could be a part of their race of perfect and asexual beings.’
I wake up screaming, drenched in sweat.
I looked at where my alarm clock should be. It’s not like it wasn’t there, but he had gone away and brought a few friends along.
One of them was telling me that it was around three o’clock.
Damn, must have overslept.
Not that I had something useful to do anyway, but I figured I’d be up a hell of a lot sooner.
So I got up, and on my way to the kitchen, I felt the delicious aroma of… pizza? What the…?
I found you in the living room, clearing the chaos that was my dining table, so we could sit comfortably and eat.
I stared at you for a while, until you say, “There’s not much that you can do in the way of help. Go shower, man. You look almost as bad as I feel”, you said with some hints of cheerfulness in your voice.
The shower worked wonders on me, I made sure that the water ran for a few minutes so it would come out scalding hot, so I could wash away this feeling of filth in me.
The warmth of the water, coupled with the fact that I didn’t even leave the bathroom window open made me feel a bit woozy, and everything I drank last night seemed to want to come out… it’s always possible that who knows, maybe, just maybe I drank a bit too much.
I showered quick enough, though. I got dressed, got back to the dining room, and came up to you, where you were sitting at the table, a large bottle of water in the middle.
Nothing for me?
I sat down.
“Did you make this?”, I asked. Because if you did, then my friend, you are a true magician because I had little to no food at all at home.
“D’you think?”, you replied. “Nah, I ordered. You didn’t have anything at all to eat, except a few empty bottles of beer, which I don’t really recommend, so I decided that we both need something with a bit more… substance to line our stomachs”, you concluded.
“Right”, I agreed.
“And speaking of beer”, I said, “maybe I could go to the supermarket and get us something to drink”, I said, getting up.
But before I has halfway up, you put your hand on mine, and said, “No”.
“No”, you repeated. “For you.”
And you said not for you, but for me. The good thing about being able to look back on something is that you can actually see how you behaved, and I was just so stupid back then…
“Well, just the one, it won’t –“, I was going to continue, but you didn’t let me.
“No”, you insisted again. “Sit. Eat. Drink water, if you’re thirsty. And listen to me. There is much we have to talk.”
I sat down.
Maybe with was everything at the same time, the stuff I drank last night, the hangover that came with it, that shower that cleansed me but left me weak, but suddenly I felt very, very hungry, and quick as that I had eaten two slices of sweet pizza, without nary a glance at them; and by their taste, they had tuna, bacon, and olives.
I drank water, but it was way too cold.
I never did like the stuff, and I told you so.
“One day you will”, you said enigmatically.
“Will, I have several important things I have to say to you. Some of them about me, about how I’m feeling, and how my life is right now, and others about you”, you said.
“Regarding what I want to tell you about me, I ask only that you listen to me, because I believe I know what your opinion is. Perhaps in times it would have been a different one, but there we go, nothing remains the same”, you continued, and then took a long, healthy sip of water.
“Now, regarding what I have to say about you, I confess I harbour no illusions whatsoever, I do admit.”
“It maybe that you even surprise me, and better yet, that you surprise yourself, and your heart and arms will open to me and heed these words I say, but…”
“But you don’t think so, is that it?”
“C’mon, speak up, stop being such a girl”, I said impatiently.
“Very well”, you said, “but first I feel I must apologize for what I did to you yesterday. It was ill done on my part, and I humiliated you, and I hope that one day you may forgive me.”
“Fuck that”, I said. “Sticks and stones, man. Forget it.”
“Wait. All this has a plausible explanation. It does not condone the act, but it does explain why I was in such a foul mood. Do you remember last night at all?”, you asked.
“Yes”, I replied. “Through a haze, yeah, but sure, I remember.”, I said, eating another slice.
“But do you really remember?”, you insisted.
“Do you remember the person with who I was talking to?”, you asked, as if I was a five year old.
I do confess that I had to struggle a little bit…
“Remember… remember… I get these flashes… faces, voices, nothing very substantial you know? I guess I must have been pretty out of it… but I remember I was there with someone, right? And so were… you?”, I managed to say.
“So”, you said, “let’ see : yes, you were drunk, very drunk; yes, there was someone with you, and it was lousy company : an incredibly beautiful girl; and lastly”, you paused to catch your breath, then added, “yes, yes I was with your, all things considered, ex-nurse, Natalie.”
By now my head ached so bad that it was as if somebody was playing drums inside my head, and I had to put my hands to my temples so as to better assimilate what you just told me.
After a few seconds, I said, “the nurse. Yeah. Yeah. The shot. Fuck me, that was awful. Yeah, I do seem to recall.”
“So… what about it?”, I said, more than just a bit disoriented.
The promptness of your answer caught me off guard. You just said very calmly and thoughtfully the following words :
“I’ve fallen for her, William. Hard.”
In a state of shock, reeling by your confession, you add, “I don’t know what to do, man. It’s killing me, this is. Only she’s got a boyfriend, and they’re going to get married… and she’s just so gorgeous, she is, and she makes me laugh like no-one has made me laugh in the longest time, Will. And I’m so in love with her…”, you said, your eyes wet with the first of many tears to come.
“Man, there’s so many fish there in the sea…”, I said. “If you want a girl, leave it to me, we’ll go out sometime and I’ll hook you up. Or I could introduce you to this girl I met on the net, awww man, but she would go down a treat, if you catch what my meaning…”, I added, with a wink and a nudge.
But you looked at me with eyes that could curdle milk, so I stepped back.
“When was the last time you heard me say I was in love with someone, Sandor? Think hard.”
So I did. Really. Let’s see, it can’t have been that long…
It’s so obvious. How the hell did I not think about this before?
You’ve been all alone for the past couple of years, mate.
“Since Sara”, I said.
“Yeah”, you admitted. “Since Sara.”
“And believe me when I tell you, please, please do believe me, there is no one on earth that knows his own feelings or his own self better than I do mine and myself, but if I tell you that I am deeply in love with Natalie… it’s because I really am.”, you finished.
We didn’t speak again for a few minutes after that, we finished eating in silence.
We drank a bit more water, and something told me that at least for now, we were done talking about you.
You get up from the table, and you go get another bottle of water from the kitchen; I insist once more on the idea of going to the supermarket, things would go down a treat if we had a brew to drink, but that look you gave me settled that.
I sat back on the sofa, zapped for a while; nothing good on the TV, no surprises there.
I was watching this video from a band whose name can not be uttered in any civilized tongue, when a strange noise coming from the kitchen woke me from semi-slumber.
So I got to the kitchen, and saw you emptying every single bottle that might even have the smallest trace of alcoholic contents in them, into the kitchen sink.
“What the fu–“, I started, but that killer look you so perfected these past hours killed the rest of the words I was going to say.
I stared impassively as the bottles were being emptied out, one by one.
After an enormity of time had elapsed, but who seemed to me as a few minutes only, such was my horror, you said, “You can go back to the living room. Yeah, I know this is your place, but I’m in charge today, ok? Sit down. I’ll be right along.”
And so I did. I went back, sat down, and waited for you to come.
You looked at me, pulled up a chair so you wouldn’t have to sit on the floor, and said nothing
Then you started to speak.
“Listen, Will. I’m going to tell you for good and all what you are to me”, you said, your voice tinged with sadness and fatigue.
“You are my best friend, the best I will ever, ever have. And you know, I think, that for someone like me… well, making friends just isn’t the easiest things in the world, in part due to that strange notion of friendship I have…”
“But more so than that, we are brothers; you are the brother I never had, and the love I feel for you – and mind what you’re going to say - , while being of a different kind, is as great and intense as that I felt for Sara.”
“I would do anything for you, man. And deep down I know you would do the same for me. Of all the things I have left in my life, I fear losing you most of all.”
“But you know that… we’ve known each other for such a long time now, been through so much together… but maybe even you never imagined what I’m about to tell you now.
“You are, or at least used to be everything I ever wanted to be.”
“In secret to myself, I looked at you, and saw the kind of person I longed to be.”
“Do you understand?”, you asked, without even giving me a chance to reply, because immediately after that, you say, “Because I’m going to ask you something, Sandor. And for the first time in along while, try to think before you speak.”
I nodded slightly in approval, maybe in a just a bit arrogant manner, as if giving you permission to address me.
“Will… what’s, when you think about it, important in your life? I mean, really important?”
I thought deep and heard about this, really I did.
I also thought if maybe I could organize everything that mattered to me in groups, then sub-groups, and making top fives of each of them.
Let’s see… what’s really important to me?
Women. Women, in general, but if they’re pretty and/or hot, that’s always a plus.
DVD’s. CD’s. Oh, watches, my latest craze. I like very much eating at a fancy restaurant, sure. Boats and horses, too, go figure. I kinda developed a taste for that sort of stuff.
Oh yeah, clothes. I’m a sucker for a good pair of denims, and a new suit every now and then. All the latest fashion, I suppose.
Shoes, yes. After all, a man is measured by his shoes and watch, so they say.
Sneakers, Puma’s or Nike’s. Adidas’s too, but only sometimes.
Going to the football, and a concert every now and again, too.
Hmmm… going out, going on a binge, sure. And women, too, I think I still hadn’t said that.
Cars, though it’s been years since I last drove, but I’ve always fancied sports cars.
Mobile phones, that trick the devil played in all of us; a man’s worst enemy, especially when/if he’s drunk, but I love them. Ipods. Oooohhh… a plasma TV, that would rock so much…
The new Playstation, I think I want that even more than I want to get laid. Or maybe not, on second thought.
Comic books! A nice perfume. Calvin Klein underwear. An haircut that’s obscenely expensive but that looks amazing on me.
Jesus, I don’t know, there’s just so much stuff… But women, above all.
“So many different things, my friend”, I admitted.
“There’s so much stuff that it’s impossible for me to say what’s rally important to me…”
“Very well”, you said. “I will tell you a few things that matter which I’m absolutely, positively sure you didn’t think of, and I will tell you why they matter.”
“First off, you didn’t think about your family. Yeah, I know their mere presence renders you physically ill, and empty. But they do care about you, they do love you. Did you your grandma calls every day to ask me how you’ve been doing, to see if everything’s
all right with you? Asking me to watch over you?”
“Heh. By that look on your face I guess you didn’t.”
“You didn’t think about your health. Sandor, the body and mind you call your own, were given to you by God, and by no means I’m telling you how you should live your life, because ultimately it’s your decision alone.”
“But with all the shit you’ve been drinking, and man, not only will you drink anything, you seem to be drinking all the time these past months, and you drink in alarming quantities too; plus, all those girls that you’re fucking around, man, one of these days you’re bound to catch some disease, and before you know it you’ll be dying alone in a gutter, man.”
“And I know you don’t want that.”
I was going to say something, but it was as if something held my tongue captive, choking my words, and all that came out was a weird noise.
“Wait, don’t interrupt me. New question : who are your friends, Will ?”, you asked, your voice like a whip.
“Well”, I answered, nonplussed. “There are two or three guys at work, and then there’s those guys we always see when we go out at night… and you, right?”, I asked, with a certain doubt; sudden and disturbing.
You stared at me, clapped your hands, and it is truly amazing how the sound of your hands clapping sounded surreally sarcastic.
Then you said, “Wow. I am proud, no really I am, to be a part of that most noble and egregious company that includes such legendary paragons of virtue such as Gregor, the guy who pisses himself should he drink more than TWO whole beers. Or that prick Andrew, who goes around with a very small bag of flour inside, so people think it’s coke.”
“Awww, c’mon, the guy’s—“
“Shut up. And listen to me.”, the whip in your voice said.
“And finally, for however little this may matter to you nowadays, I really don’t know anymore…”
You sighed, long and deep, and for an instant you seemed on the verge of a breakdown.
“You never thought of me, did you? Me, who just told you how damn important you are to me.”
“But I didn’t say everything, now, did I? Oh no, not by a longshot. I’m going to tell you how well I know you.”
“You don’t hav—“, but the whip was in your eyes, now, and I couldn’t bear to finish that sentence.
“I know who you are. And I know what you are. I know you better than anyone does. I might even chance to say that I know you better than you do yourself. And you are not this. You are not this joke of a person I see before me. And I know that this is what you chose to be; again, it was by your choice alone. But the great thing is, you don’t have to keep on being like this, Sandor.”, you said, your voice full of worry.
“Do you remember when me and Sara broke up? How while I spent long hours commiserating, and wallowing in my own sadness, without ever thinking that maybe she was having as hard a time as I was, you went to her, and helped her find her way?
I remember, you told me something about her having found God in an elephant, or some such nonsense…”
“But Sandor, in the darkness that her life had become, in part by my own doing, you were the candle flame that flickered her back to life.”
“And when I think how you yourself were back then… things had fallen apart between you and Sophie a bit before we broke up, and that pain was showing already, but you were so much stronger than I ever was…”
“That’s the real Sandor to me.”
“And soon after that, when in the midst of my weakness, I fell down on my knees and begged her to take me back, just to hear her, and deservedly so, say that I should go fuck myself, who was it that helped me, Sandor?”
“Who lifted me from that abyss to which I fell, when I was broken in millions of tiny pieces, after, and to top things off, my parents both died?”
“You did, Sandor.”
“You were – and have been – so much to me… you’ve have always been by my side, you protected me from all the attacks I suffered, gave me all your support…”
“So now, let me do something for you in return”, you asked.
“You were such an amazing person, Will. You were really great to be with. And you must be that person once more. We’re not fifteen years old anymore, mate. I’ve seen you become just a disappointed person clinging on to bottles. No more. You must show everyone your quality again.”
“But you’ve hurt so many people already… do you know, once upon a time I felt that it was the best thing that could happen to you, and in a way I condoned that behaviour, you having an endless string of relationships that would last the week, because I thought it would maybe make you feel better about yourself, maybe it would lift your spirit in that post-Sophie phase… but that’s just the thing, it was just a phase, and it had to pass. It shouldn’t have become a way of living. You should have met someone, fallen in love, and lived happily ever after.”
“But no… you became something you are not. Who you never were.”
“I know…”, I answered dimly.
“I miss so much, so very much, just liking someone”, I said, in an even lower tone., bowing my head so you don’t see my tears.
“I feel so alone.”
On bended knee before me, with tears in your eyes, you lifted my head, and said,
“I know, Will. I know. But she’s not coming back. Sophie’s lest you along time ago. She made her choices, you made yours, and things happened, for better or for worse, because they had to happen.”
“And she is very happy now, believe me. And you aren’t, right?”, you asked me, holding my hands that shook incessantly.
“Sandor… you’re slowly killing your self… you can’t feel anything at all… you have no heart, and you drown yourself in booze just to make the says seem more bearable. Did you know that those guys you hang out with make fun of you? They call you “Predator”, they—“
This time it was me who interrupted, and said, “Is that how they see me? Like a Bloodhound?”; I asked, indignantly.
You took some seconds to answer me, but finally you said, your eyes full of melancholy,
“Oh, Sandor. Like a Bloodhound? No.”
“Like a vulture”, you said.
“You have me, my friend. And I beg you, listen for just a while more.”
“In the name of our friendship, the friendship we hold true since children, by the names that we left behind while young men, and by those we chose for ourselves later, taken from the books that so enthralled us. I beg you, for the innocence of those times, the times when we forged our bonds, and made our words, and Winter is coming, man, for you and for me.”
“For all that, I ask you to listen to what I say : you hold in your hands the power to choose what your life is going to be like from now on. On one hand, yeah, you can continue living this life that I hope you can leave behind, but you are fated to die alone, and I will not be around to see you fall even farther, I promise you that. My heart could not bear such pain.”
“On the other hand, though… leave all this behind you. Go away. Discover the world, and maybe you’ll find yourself again. You may even come to find God, who knows, stranger things have surely happened.”
“Ask yourself, ‘How far would you be to be someone else’?. Take a long, hard look at what your life has been these past few years, and you will find the answer.”
“How far would you go to be who you were again? You may travel ‘round this world, and still you may never know.”
“You may gaze upon the most beautiful of flowerings that truth will always be elusive to you.”
“But”, you said, putting your hand in my heart, “I know what lies inside. I know what used to be here, and will be again.”
“And when you know, then the Sandor so many loved and admired once will be truly back.”
“So promise me, swear to me, that you’ll not drink ever again. And whenever you feel that particular temptation, think, no, know that only water truly quenches thirst.”
“And promise me, over our friendship, that you’ll only be with a woman again when you feel real love for someone.”
“Can you do that?”, you asked, as if the world’s survival hinged on my very answer.
You said, “Think about this I’ve said. I will not see you again, not before you change. Trust me, you have not lost me, nor my friendship, but you must learn again what sacrifice means.”
You shook my hands, then hugged me tenderly.
We both dried our tears, and said “I’ll see you around.”
“Someday, for sure”, you said. “When water is your favourite thing to drink.”
And with this you left my house, your words echoing in my head, that seemed to be aching since the dawn times.
I could really go for a beer now. Halfway to the fridge, I stop and think about all that had happened, and when finally I did manage to get to the fridge, I found just a bottle of water.
I picked it up, looked at it, then took a few sips.
It’s not that bad, I thought.
“Hello”, I said to the bottle, “I’m Sandor.”
"I don't have to sell my soul
he's already in me..
I don't need to sell my soul
he's already in me...
I wanna be adored."
Stone Roses, I wanna be adored