Πέμπτη, 1 Δεκεμβρίου 2016

THE VOLUNTEER 4: CONVERSATION WITH THE FATHER (PART ONE)

  That first dive into the past shocked him. It shook foundations within him well built. The distance between going back with your memories that might have faded and literally going back and relive these scenes was enormous. As much as he was afraid of it, every single word that the guys with the masks in suits had told him was true and he knew that this was only the beginning. He could not stop. He could not be prepared for any of the scenes that would follow. As much as he wanted to share it with Branca, he didn’t tell her anything. He kept it deep inside him. Needless to say that he himself was struggling to believe it.  And that period, only at the Sierra he found himself alone with his thoughts and that was convenient. The last few weeks he was busy at the house. He was helping Jonathan repair an old boat that was at the garage for many years. He had this idea of fixing the engine, refresh the color and as soon as soon as the spring would come, he would go for fishing at the Tranquilo Lake. Harry had no idea of boats and repairing. He mostly kept Jonathan company and followed his instructions always with a cold beer, which Jonathan kept at the small fridge under the stairs by the entrance, behind the twins’ bicycles.
  It was the period when Branca was moody and did not come to his room. He found her stuff at the most peculiar places in the room. His latest find was a deep red nail polish by the window, behind the curtains. He spontaneously smiled looking at it. Following a weird impulse he opened it and painted the nail of his right’s hand small finger. How on earth did the women handle these things! Except the nail, the color spread in the finger as well. He looked at it and decided not to take it off. He wanted to be with her that day and he didn’t give a damn about the strange looks that would attract. He smiled thinking that it would be a great idea to pass by the bar before going  to work to see her and make her notice it. It would be his way of telling her that he missed her. He had all day to think about it and decide.
  Jonathan noticed it but he was too discreet to say anything, no matter how many quick looks he took at his hands. Today he asked of him to roughly rub the boat while he would finish the repairings. He was happy because he had managed to fix the engine and he could not stop mapping the spring routes with his mind. 
“Of course, Harry, on your day off, you will come with me fishing and spend the day together. I will buy you a fishing rod and we will be all set”, he had told him up to a thousand times with the enthusiasm of a small child.
“We have time until the spring comes, take it easy”, Harry told him and started rubbing the worn off- white wood with the sandpaper, always with his red fingernail attracting attention. 
“Have it your way, you don’t believe me but you’ll see, it is going to be great. I will go get us some cold beer”, he said and carefully got off the boat. 
  Harry continued rubbing the boat and thinking Branca’s warm body. While he was lost in his erotic memories, he heard a door slamming behind him. He turned around and the sandpaper fell off his hand. He was found, without realizing it, in his father’s office. Yes, of course, he recognized it. The large library across the wall, his wooden desk with so many drawers, his pencil holder with his pens and the inkwell, the frames with the boats in rough sea and that family photo with himself as a baby dominating the wall, full of dust like their common family life. 
“What happened? Did I scare you? But I told you that I was going to get my cigarettes from the kiosk”, his father told him. 
  Harry was standing still looking at him. He was his father, in his office and Harry must have been twenty two years old, short after he had graduated. He is wearing his pair of jeans and he is feeling so strong in his young body. He looks at his small fingernail but it is not painted. His father walks past him and sits in the leather chair behind his desk and lights a cigarette. He looks exactly the way Harry remembered him. Short, with his baldness shining under the light, wearing that strict gray tie with the matching cufflinks. It seems so strange to be in the same room with him. It seems so difficult to be in the same room with him and know that an even more difficult dialogue will follow.
“What’s wrong? Did you see a ghost?” he asks him as he inhales the smoke laughing out loud. “So, let’s not waste any time, because I have an appointment with the construction company in fifteen minutes.” He took an envelope from the first drawer and gave it to him. 
“A small amount to go out and celebrate with your friends. It’s not every day that my son graduates with distinction. I have arranged for the sign outside to be fixed with your name on it next week, so the customers get familiar with it, you know. Your name will also be in the business cards. By the end of the month, all the details will be arranged. Under normal circumstances a second desk will not fit in here, but we will manage it”, he said talking fast. 

  Harry, standing still defensively, stared at the envelope on the desk and listened to his father’s ambitious plans. He cared for him but Harry felt him numb in the lifelong role of the father. This relationship always slipped away instead of growing roots, as if it were a water lily. As he was growing older, he felt like he didn’t have much to tell him. He was always strict, without showing any affection to his son, he scolded him, having too many perfection expectations out of him. Harry, just like his mother, was afraid of him because when the magic facade of communication was lost, his father would go offensive, he would be ironic and he would yell. While he did not have any violent outbursts, it was his look and his words that always gave you the impression that if you didn’t do what he told you, he was capable of punishing you or playing so much with your mind that you eventually would back down. The fact that Harry would follow his footsteps and become a “model insurer” was always clear. He would learn the job by his side and he would get paid from day one. And now that he had finally got his diploma, he felt as if he was drowning, having his head underwater with no air left in him. He had succeeded, he had his diploma in economics which had been imposed on him and he could not bear to think that he would spend the rest of his life on the second floor of a depressing building with other depressing offices struggling to make life insurance policies, “the only job that will serve a plate with food on your table.”
The words of his father were the ultimate truth without any protest. He worked in this firm for twelve years now and, to be honest, the financial of the family had improved. He could see his mum being more relaxed concerning the loan of the house actually, but it was as if he had bought her silence on all the other matters. His power passed on his son whom, without knowing how to handle him, he manipulated him and tried to turn him into his own miniature. Today Harry was full of courage for a man of twenty years old to confront him. He remembered how tight his stomach was as he went up the stairs of the building. He wanted to talk to him for the first time perhaps in his life for something that was crucial. His future. He had prepared a monologue with all the dramatic features and however hard he found it and no matter how afraid he was of his father’s reactions, he was determined to take it all the way. He had to talk to him about his plans for that architecture school in Europe, whose lessons would start in two weeks before he put any names on the door and on the business cards. He had to talk to him about his love for drawing, cities and buildings. He had to find the strength to tell him that up till now he did whatever his father wanted and it was now the time to get hold of his life. He had to. 

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