Κυριακή, 1 Ιανουαρίου 2017

THE VOLUNTEER 5: CONVERSATION WITH THE FATHER (PART TWO)

  While his father was smoking his cigarette, Harry felt the sweat running down his chin and his back. How vivid this day was in his memory and how unprepared he was to relive it! He watched him talk about their professional future together and he knew that he did not have much time before the bell would ring and his appointment would show up. He took a deep breath and he interrupted him, without taking the envelope with the money. 
“Father, I came today to talk to you”, he began timidly, just as he had done that day.
“What do you want to talk about, Harry? I am the one who has a thousand things to tell you about the job but you are going to learn all the tricks by my side.”
“But that’s what I want to talk to you about.”
“I have told you a thousand times that I don’t like to be interrupted, as if you grew up in a barn without manners. Whatever you have to tell me, can’t be more important than the first appointment that I have arranged for you, in which I will be present of course. It is a done deal job but I want you to see the way I talk to the client, how I deal with him so that you get in the mood. You must not waste any time. Life flies away and I didn’t raise you to waste your days. It’s time you earn your money and stop being supported by me as if you were sick”, he said and, having found funny his last phrase, started laughing out loud.
  Harry clasped his hands and looked at the clock on the wall. He had only five minutes at his disposal. He had the memory of that experience and he knew that he had screwed up in the past. He remembered very well that in those five minutes a river of range had flowed from him, he had talked to him about the lessons that he wanted to take and how, on the contrary, did not want his name on any signs and did not want the life that his father arranged for him without ever hearing what his son wanted. The more he remembered it, the more he gripped his fist because his father’s response was all yelling and threats and humiliations. He had insulted him and he had told him that if he wanted to change his course of life he should pass over his dead body. The bell had rang and his last words were:
“Don’t sweat it, I know exactly how to change your mind’. Harry was frozen with this threat and he had gone away in such a panic and he was never actually sure if his father was just paranoid or the biggest stubborn and selfish of all times. He hadn’t said a word to his mother about it and he loyally obeyed his instructions for years. He hated him so much, he stoically remained in the job out of fear and every New Year’s Eve he promised himself that this would be the last year. And this year always led to the next one until that specific New Year’s Eve when time seemed to crash into countless and trivial pieces. He had not seen him for so many years that in reality he didn’t know whether he was alive or buried into a verdant estate of distant Pretsenia. Their relationship was an ongoing abeyance and these agonizing five minutes left were his last chance to win back lost time, to overcome his fears, justified or not, and to stand in front of him correctly claiming his youth, now that he had a second chance. Without being totally sure if he reacted in the right way, he raised his voice.
“I have grown up in your barn and now it’s time to run away. You are a sadist and a sinister”. Now he just screamed with the passion of all those years. Drops of his saliva were slipping his mouth and landed on his father’s face who, surprised from his son’s behavior, awkwardly swept them away. 
“You don’t own me to treat me like you do. I want more than anything else in the world to go to that school of architecture and never deal with your fucking insurances. I don’t know if you are crazy or not but I don’t want to stay here to figure it out. Enough!” he continued screaming and he tried to leave without taking the envelope from the table. 
“Where do you think you are going young man? Who told you that we are through?” his father strictly told him and grabbed him by his arm.
“Leave my arm, now” young Harry cried almost hysterically and as he turned towards him, he raised his right arm, the one that had a nail painted in the present, and without having a second thought, he punched his father’s face. 
  His father was bewildered and hit him back with the two of them rolling on the wooden floor fighting like wild beasts, throwing half the things off the desk. Their bodies looked like boxing bags. Harry functioned with such ferocity as if all the mistakes and the pressure from the past and the future have now reached the surface and they were the ones to reload his fists as if they were guns. His father, on the other hand, between groans and cursing, hit back as if he were in a bar fighting with sailors for the eyes of a woman. Blood was running from Harry’s nose and his father’s shirt was torn at the shoulder. Nothing seemed to stop them and scattered words like: “ungrateful”, “satrap my ass”, “show us the real man in you”, were heard through grunts and cries of pain but you could not tell from whose mouth they came out. They both wanted to hurt another and time truly had become a fierce river that had drifted everything along. 
The manager and the colleagues from the neighboring offices and the lower floors opened noisily the closed door, baffled with the yelling and the spectacle. 
“Mr. Stilton, Harry, what’s all this mess? Stop it you two, you should be ashamed”, they shouted and rushed to separate them. The women typists and secretaries stayed in the doorway, cramped to see the spectacle of shame. Others hurried to offer handkerchiefs for the blood and the sweat. Father and son got up, trying to tidy up their clothes. Harry’s t-shirt was out of his pair of jeans, his father was trying to straighten his tie. The manager kindly sent away the crowd that had gathered. Harry heard his father asking of him to take over the appointment, which fortunately had delayed, while he would go and freshen up in the men’s room. He took a degrading look at his son as he got out of his office. Ηarry was left humiliated to wipe his nose. Five minutes later he ran away, passing the small groups of employees obviously talking about the unprecedented event. As he left the building, he stopped to catch his breath and put his thoughts in order that came like a torrent in order to drown him. A hand on his shoulder shook him gently. 
“Harry, are you all right? Your beer is getting warm”.
He turned and saw Jonathan’s hand standing on his shoulder.
“Was the rubbing of the boat so heavy for you?” he asked him laughing.
“I am sorry, I was distracted.”
“Yes, I can see that. For the last fifteen minutes you stand with the sandpaper in your hand and your mind is elsewhere. I am talking and you do not listen.’
“Yes…yes… I was thinking about something”, he murmured and gulped his really warm beer, which he needed to revive him a little. “I am sorry, Jonathan, but I can’t go on. I will come down tomorrow. I am going to lie down for a while”, he said and went to his room, leaving Jonathan muttering something about women and their affairs. 

  He lied on his bed in shock. If he had understood correctly, he had just changed his past in the worst possible way. Even though he had managed to confront his father at a time when fear towards him was dominating, he had messed up the way he handled it. Fighting was not an adult behavior by none of them. And the worst part, living the turnover in fragments did not justify in any way either of his choice. So, they punched each other and became the laughing stock of the building. Then what? How did he continue his life, did he do his revolution and go, without a dime in his pocket, to Europe to follow his dream or like a first-class coward, as soon as the blood dried from his nose did he return to his barn and its safety? Would he have answers to these questions or not? The only thing for certain was the fear he felt now that all the morning events settled down in him. Not fear for his father, this time, but for himself and his reactions, which had never crossed his mind that he would be able to go through them.
He raised his right hand and he saw his red nail. He spontaneously smiled. “If I am starting to lose my mind, I might as well do it in style”, and he went in for a quick shower before getting ready for work.

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