Many people walk past me in the corridors as my first visit draws to an end. I have several classes with Mel and Frank. They both have the same classes causing an opposite reaction to Melvin’s exclaim of victory. I try to recalling the names, the faces in the circle and I can’t. I had seen them once in my life so far for those lousy twenty minutes as my gaze traveled from one stranger to another. All the faces, names and amounts censored or the spoiler now gone, as the page is burnt and the split-personality laughing.
I am exposing myself to strangers. It felt as if I am taking candy from that tall man in a hat in those kid stories which scream out ‘do not talk to strangers’. Strangers have the best candy. And yet here I am showing my past nude edition, giving out fragments which do not matter to them, but I fail to hold them as my own now. Something I treasure, what I am. It wasn’t like I described my relation to Lola, what colour was my underwear, my politic views, to whom I gave my vote and other if I ever did, I usually ordered a pizza and watched the post-election debates for the hell of it. But if felt like that. I was listening to biographies but not my own and what I had exposed.
Word to word is printed in my brain, transmitting a low echo every minute of the words which escaped from my mouth like illegal emigrants. That’s the problem when you spill your soul out. One of you always remembers either the listener or the teller. The teller gossips, the listener gets pissed. So before I ever spill my soul out, I chew on that thought. Do I want to? Mostly when I think about it I do. Truly, regrets happen.
But then is there a life with no regrets? There is. But instead of dying calm, you die in agony, the music gone, the eyes taken and sunken in kohl of a beloved, who you never gave yourself to. There are moments when you feel calm, mostly when the mind is clouded by love and you realize that no matter what you cause that is simply not the reason to stop you from having a bright future and looking brighter at it than ever. But what if it blinds you? That’s what everything is about, the awaiting, the hope, the belief. The feeling of that running inside you killing all the pain which was gathered up so long. That’s why it’s worth, feeling all that, feeling everything under your feet, feeling that taste.
Then the next address is now hanging above me like a burning sign, screaming out my next destination. It was better than nothing. I could have still been chewing on the tip of my pencil, feeling it crack in two and spit out the remains of it out of my mouth. Newspapers and ads were scattered around me on the kitchen table as Kayleen drank her tea, her eyes going through some ads from while to while. I told her that her help wasn’t needed.
After a while she got bored from all the searching and she got distracted by herself or by sudden phone calls from her friends. Then her laughter would pierce my concentration as the words would seem to run around the pages, scattering as I’d search for that one advertise that would earn me money.
Then in between laughing breaks, Kayleen put a newspaper above my magazine as she replied about some new celebrity break-up. And now the same ad, only now cut-out with the address highlighted with a marker was now held firmly in my hand hinting the same address as the posh block of flats in front of me.
Now I regret the fact that I have my old pair of Converse, not the new ones, after all I thought that my job would require me to get messy and I’d walk out with feathers sticking out of my head. The block of flats seems to scream out for a fancy suit and matching footwear which I doubt could be my docs or any colour Converse, unless they’d cost a fortune and have some pop artist’s lipstick trace.
So basically I have to use the number of their flat twice, once while I press the numbers in the intercom and as I walk inside seeing everything white and… marble I guess. I walk on onto the elevator, taking my hands out of my pockets, feeling uneasy and out of the scene. I say the floor number and I even get it pressed for me with the fact that I do not have the lack of fingers unless I chop them off now, which is highly unlikely, gotta draw for a living, more like misery, drawing it creating that bright thing inside with stares from above. I could still press it with my nose and I do not have the lack of a nose but I can chop it off with a job. I expect some elevator music like in those video games where characters dance to it. Yes, yes, we all watched Cloud dance in deep confusion and pure jealousy.
I nod with a good bye and walk outside, feeling myself gulp and actually feel nervous. What should I actually feel? Should I shout at him? Should I let him watch TV until his rich parents return home, back to their posh apartment? I could picture the wife taking off her necklace worth several grand as she would regret going there instead of watching some late night talk show about bastard men. The husband would be in a bad mood over the fact that no rumor about his raise was brought to life along with several grand. Maybe they’d have an argument, wake the kid up and break up. The wife now with her own talk show, the one about bastard men, the break-up money used to kick out the previous ex-wife.
“Oh, evening, Roman.” Pearly white teeth. Smiling hazel eyes. Dark blonde hair tied in a neat bun with several steaks falling across the face. I guess that is the wife. I greet her back and get an invitation inside. She watches me and I take it as my cue to get out of my Converse. I feel insecure, as if I was told to enter without any weapons. She eyes the pink slippers, which by the looks of it were prepared for myself? Pink? I blink and with my reaction her hand slides with a dramatic oh (is my name girly or something?) to a deep blue pair and I put them on with a thanks. I try to be as polite as possible because the payment is worth it.
I’m depressed that this is only a one time job, but then maybe they’ll call me again saying ‘Oh, oh, Roman, you are such a brilliant and fantastic babysitter with no experience before, but believe me, son, you’re the best. Can you come every day? We kicked out our nanny, which I had back in the 70s.' Dream, dream on, Roman.
“So, Thomas! Thomas!” The lady shouts as her voice breaks with a dark note. I catch her eye and for a moment her face changes, like a sudden crack in the mirror. I see no longer the warm hazel eyes, the Godlike appearance. I see several wrinkles on her forehead and in the corner of her eyes. Her lips form a broken and mad frown. I gulp, as with a quick brush to get rid of the steak now from eyes her face changes back. She
smiles back at me, only now with a shadow across her eyes. “Romeo, sweetie!”
A red haired boy runs up to us and hides behind his mother. His hair is half combed as the others seems to be out of the bed after a hangover which I doubt he had unless Disney is collaborating with Jack. Maybe he ruffled it after school, only half of it, to get half shouted on. Then a toothy grin replaces the confusion on his face. He seems to be half my height and dressed in designer clothes from head to toe. He tilts his head examining the unloved replacement as I grip onto my scarf, nearly whispering thoughts of home and expecting to be back with Kayleen drinking hot chocolate in the kitchen, talking or reading, her light eyes locked in poetry. His green eyes stop on my hair. Most likely he tries to figure out what my natural hair colour is. Even I don’t remember. I’m kidding, of course I do. Thankfully I don’t mouth that aloud which would cause them to question my sanity. Which can actually be under questioning. The sanity of my other self of course, not my
The one which just hit my arm.
“Hey, I’m Roman. Nice to meet you, Romeo.” I smile and stretch out my hand. He looks, suspicion printed on his angelic face with a demon’s kiss but shakes it anyway replying the same courtesy. Isn’t that ironic? With the fact that both of the origins of our names are connected to Rome? I think. And above all I get nicknamed Rome today. Damned coincidence. But isn’t that a nice coincidence to start a conversation? Is it? Or rather the second chapter of eleven volumes.
I watch and listen to the wife talk about her son’s hobbies, as I try to recall her name. Camilla, wasn’t it? I watch her lips move as she talks about endless rules how to feed her son, where is the food, who gives the food, what food he shouldn’t eat. I wonder if she likes me back, if Thomas is worth it. I count the age, her hair blonde like Lola’s.
“Does your son draw?” I ask faking a casual tone, not realizing what escapes my lips. Do people from such a high society even hold a pencil as much as they hold credit cards or rather break them for a dare, before exposing their naked soul? I shut up and watch her face change. The smile is now gone again, as Romeo watches his mother’s face change as she struggles for a while. Thomas, the husband pays no attention. He glances as he greets me. The red head senior stops and tries to hide the fact of interest in my question.
“Of course he does! Look at all these paintings he enjoys it! Fascinated! Dazzled! Bewildered!” Throwing around loud words with the hands held up until the lady realization comes and she sighs, wishing she were a wealthy man. I quickly glance at the walls. The pictures seem to be several years old unless he still draws stick figures.
Romeo gulps causing his parents to glare at his sudden swallow and he gets a pat on the head by both. Soon enough, they both place a kiss on his forehead, ignoring his exploding from embarrassment cheeks. Two cheeks resembling two atomic bombs. Thankfully for me and Romeo’s leaking out of his ears embarrassment as the patting is over with kisses, they soon headed off.
I double check the lock, realizing that I may look suspicious and once again like a terrorist. Maybe I should get a sign, a badge, a t-shirt saying that I am not a terrorist.
Who would believe you?
That’s a nice change. I grin wide at the red haired boy in front of me. Romeo, Ro-me-o, right? I glance at the stick figures caught up in the white of the paper in the expensive gold frames hanging on the wall look disgusting, as if crafted by a tasteless whore model. They seem to be happy, the corners of their lips pulled up by some imaginary force, like life itself. Holding no meaning behind but held tight. I grin wider and walk up to the nearest frame as the kid watches me.
I want to send them free. I can. I can tear them from their prison with scissors. I can let them run free. I raise my hand and feel the glass between us pierce my fingers with its low temperature. The icy feel burns me and it feel good at the same time. It would feel better broken into shards, digging into my own skin. As I’d draw my name in blood.
I give out a light laugh, as I watch those small men crawl all over the place. I see them thank me, bow down to me. Pray to me. Call me their God for I saved them. Something I cannot do for myself.
He’s the one holding the umbrella to shield from the sun.