Παρασκευή, 1 Νοεμβρίου 2013

THE SMALL CAR IN THE POCKET


 

 He was very good in his work. He hadn’t lost more than three trials in his entire career. His agenda was full of appointments and meetings. His secretary, who was working with him for the last twelve years, always found it difficult to plan his daily schedule. On his desk there were files with cases that his two assistants first studied and then briefed him on a daily basis. He had partners that blindly trusted, he enjoyed a descent salary, and he lived in a small but functional flat in the city centre. He was unhappy.
  He woke up every morning with the same burden. He had his twenty minute workout. He heard the news on the radio he had in the kitchen. He drank his coffee and had a light breakfast. After a warm bath, he chose the suit and the tie of the day. He used the metro to go to work and returned home at night in the same way. He lived alone and he felt alone in his everyday life. Apart from the court-room, and wherever he had to demonstrate his talkative side, as the nature of the profession commanded, he was shy, quiet, and timid. He hated his job and everything that had to do with it. His dream was something as humble as working in a garage along with his dog. He loved cars. He shivered at the sound of the engine when turned on and the only thing he always wanted was to fix them.
  His father was too strict with him. His mom had died when he was very small, he almost didn’t remember her face. At first he was angry, but eventually it faded away. His father was a lawyer. His office was the same one he still had. Everything was brand new back then. Its furniture and the book cases with the law books were shining. Now, the scars that time had left on them were obvious. He was quiet too but his look, behind his thick glasses, was always cold. He didn’t know how to manage a small boy. He wasn’t patient enough to play with him. The fuss that the boy might make, while he was studying a case, always bothered him. The endless, constant questions about everything gave him a headache. From a very early age, he pushed him to follow his footsteps. “Lawyers are bright scientists,” he used to say and unfolded his arguments. The kid tried but couldn’t understand a thing of his father’s words so he continued to play with his metallic cars. These were his companions while he waited for his father to come home every day. His grandmother took an eye on him but he usually played alone.


He put them on the floor and started invisible and imaginary journeys. It was then that the idea of the garage was born. When he grew up, he would have a garage with lots of cars and he would fix them all day long. He would also have a dog to keep him company. He put himself in that image and he was a perfect fit.
  The next time his father started his speeches about the benefits of advocating, the boy gathered all his courage and looked him in the eyes. He left his toy cars for a while and started talking about his dream, the garage. His sentence wasn’t finished when a wave of anger flowed from his father’s mouth. “There’s no way my son will ever do such a thing. Forger about it,” he shouted and grabbed the small cars from the floor. He put them in his pocket and walked out of the room slamming the door behind him. Little boy’s tears and complaints were not enough to get the toys back. He was asking for them for weeks but his father was adamant. At the end, the kid though that his dad threw them away.
  As years went by, the oppression was becoming bigger and bigger. He passed the exams of course and he became a lawyer. His father forbade him to learn how to drive with the excuse that it wasn’t necessary since he lived in the city and he could use public transportations.  The little boy was now a young, scared man who didn’t have the strength to stand up to his father again, as he had done that morning. During the first years he worked with him in his office. Every day he pushed his son to become better and better. The young man did that but he was always in his father’s shadow. Whatever he did would be lower than his expectations. He was drowning but still couldn’t confront him.
  The old man died suddenly of a heart attack. The young man, who was by now a man with his first gray temples, lost the earth under his feet. Steadiness in his life ceased to exist. After the funeral he began to settle his father’s things in the house. He threw old papers that his father collected in his office. He folded clothes and ties, put them in bags and arranged to give them away. In a small box, at the back of the wardrobe, he found pictures of his mother that the old man had kept. He remembered her characteristics or he believed that he did. His metallic toy cars were there too. His childhood companions were stored like a small treasure. A sob went up to his neck for everything that could be said and done. The distant memory of the garage came back into his mind. Perhaps he now could… Perhaps. It was never too late, but was it?
  That night he sat in the living room, loosened his tie, put him a fine whiskey to drink, travelled back in time but also stood in the present for a while. It was his chance to take his life into his hands, to take his father’s heavy shadow from him. It was about time. He was a grown man but on that night he played with his cars again. He put them to speed on the carpet as he had never done when he was a child. He cried, laughed, and emptied everything out of him.
 
He had to make up his mind by dawn. He got up, had a warm bath and opened his closet. He was hesitant for a moment. For only one. He wore a gray suit and he prepared his briefcase for work. He looked himself in the mirror just before leaving for the office. He didn’t have the strength to do anything different. He didn’t find the strength to change his life. Just before he closed the door behind him, he put the small car in his pocket, at least that, and he never put it out again.


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