“The day I was told my father died; I couldn’t stop wanking.” I can’t seem to forget these words. When people die, their loved ones cry. When people die, their loved ones miss them. When people die, their loved ones masturbate. I suppose that could make sense. It might be that hearing this from just anybody wouldn’t mean much to me. I won’t know. I heard it from a person that is important to me. I love Zed. Two words I could use to describe him are genius and selfish. I imagine him facing the wall. His pants are down to the floor covering his shoes. His left arm is pressed against the wall and his weeping face is sunk into it. His right arm is moving up and down, down and up. Or maybe right to left? Or left to right. Maybe his right hand is on the wall. Maybe he’s left-handed. I should know, he’s a fucking painter for god sakes. And now I laugh. I think about my friend mourning, in the form of relentless wanking and unstoppable tear shedding, and I laugh. How can something so tragic make me laugh so hard?
I suppose comedy can be tragic. Very tragic. Even more so than tragedy. Crywanking. I can’t quite place exactly when I first heard this word, but I feel like it was around the time Zed enlightened me with the intimate details of his mourn. Maybe it was that very time. That very moment. Yeah that’s it. Or is it? Regardless. That’s the truth now. Aware of Z’s cynicism it’s quite possible that Zed said: “The day I was told my father died, I couldn’t stop crywanking”. Maybe I came up with it. Yeah that’s it, I came up with it. Zed said to me: “The day I was told my father died, I couldn’t stop crying and wanking”. I instantly exclaimed “crywanking!”. And then we had a good laugh.
A couple of months before his father died of cancer, Zed left the country to study at a community college in Boston, Massachusetts. A few days before his departure, we went for a stroll downtown. As we casually walked, Zed suddenly stopped outside a rasta-style hippy shop and told me that he needed to buy something. Inside there were rings, bracelets, hippy clothes and all sorts of other colourful vibrant things. I thought to myself, fucking hell why is everything so expensive in here? Zed went straight to the salesperson and asked for a crack pipe. Back in the streets of Nicosia, I mockingly asked him “since when do you smoke crack?” “It’s for my dad” he replied. My smile fled the scene in embarrassment.
I never met Zed’s father. When he died, Zed couldn’t afford to fly to the funeral. As one of his closest friends I took it upon me to attend and pay my respects. The night before the funeral, I got hammered. I was living with my parents back then and I must have been about nineteen. The morning of his funeral I felt like I was dying. I couldn’t stay asleep. I couldn’t stay awake. My mother came to wake me up. I ignored her as I breathed heavily on my back. She came back only to be dismissed again. That’s when she returned with a bucket full of cold water which she poured over my face as she screamed: “Get up! You are not missing this funeral!” My mother has always been my resurrector.
I work at an office downtown, just a few minutes’ walk from the overpriced hippy shop. Its run by Miranda; a lawyer who specialises in administrative law and who has made a name for herself in that area. Miranda is intelligent, attractive and hard-working. Her greatest strength is also her greatest weakness. She thinks too much. More than often she comes to work sleepless. More than often I find myself wondering what her dreams are like.
Today was a productive day at work. I’m working on a lost case with the confidence of a winner. The client was married to her husband for twenty years before he died, but the law states that widows cannot get a widower’s pension if they got married after their spouses’ retirement. As if to say there is no life after retirement. Why would anybody want to marry you? A woman can only want you for one thing.
My arguments about the unconstitutionality of the pension law will prove to be fruitless but that didn’t stop Miranda from congratulating me on my work. Plato wrote that taking praise is the sweetest form of pleasure. Why is it that I felt so empty? When Miranda saw my expressionless reaction, she asked: “Are you sure you want this case? I can give you something else to work on.” “Yeah I’m sure. I want it. I really do” I said. I wasn’t lying. She sneaked a peek through the peep holes of my soul. Like peeping into nothingness.
Stuck shit. Shits stuck. I’m both the stuck shit, and the guy who took it. One could safely assume that I feel like shit. But if feeling like shit is like feeling alive and if feeling alive is like feeling good, why does feeling like shit have to be so bad?
Shit looks bad. Shit smells bad. Maybe shit looks bad because it smells bad. I’m too ashamed to shit at the office. When did shit get bad for me?
This evening I left work at around seven. Not many hours left until everything cruelly repeats itself. I decided to take a walk in the old town centre instead of heading home. My house is always a mess. My thoughts become disorderly when I’m there. I inevitably find myself pacing around the house as I chase my thoughts in vein. I often write loose thoughts on loose papers. Whenever I return to these thoughts, I can’t seem to understand my writing. Indecipherable words. Indecipherable head. Words unworthy of being written and a writer unworthy of reading them. I didn’t want to face myself just yet.
As I passed by my go-to bar, I saw Sophia. Since she started working there as a waitress about a month ago, I often pass by to see if she’s on a shift. My body seamlessly carried itself towards her. Like a siren she drew me closer and closer to her until I ended up taking a seat and ordering one drink after the other. The wind can blow you away at will when you are hollow, I thought to myself as I took out a book to seem less lonely.
Sophia’s boyfriend also works there. He was there today acting strange around me. I can understand his concerns. He knows how I look at her. He perceives me as a threat, and I don’t blame him. I’m a vulture. I would gladly ruin what they have for a night a with her. Things started slowly with her but after a couple of dry encounters, they seemed more promising. It was right about when I showed up at the bar in my suit and told her what I do. I had to make a court appearance that day. I didn’t intend on going there wearing a costume. At least I’m almost convinced I didn’t.
Sophia is tall, blonde and pale. She oozes confidence. One can tell by the way she carries herself that she’s used to guys like me. I sat there wondering how old she is. Whether she’s younger or older than me. If someone saw us together, who would they think was older? I didn’t ask her. I couldn’t ask her. Age becomes more private with time and I would hate to intrude its secrecy. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t curious. Besides an apparent fear of death, I never understood my fixation with age. I too like to say that age is just a number, but I just can’t seem to get around it. I’m also fixated on coincidences. Maybe because they make the world seem smaller. When I was a child, the world seemed smaller.
Sophia sat on the table directly in front of me, facing me. She lit a cigarette. I lit a cigarette. We stared at each other expressionlessly. “How old are you?” she asked me. “Take a guess” I replied. “23”. “I’m 27”. She seemed surprised. “How about you?”. “Take a guess”. “23”. She smiled. “Guess again”. “25” I said and she laughed. At that moment her boyfriend came over to her, gave her two kisses on her forehead and left. I cringed. “How did you come to that answer?” she asked. “I must have guessed close to the age I would prefer you to be” I answered. “Interesting. Do you want to lock your answer?” “Yes” “I’m 16”. A creaking noise sounded as the retreating feet of my chair scraped the floor. “All men react like this when I tell them my age.” I didn’t reply, I looked away. She hard-pressed her cigarette bud in the ashtray, moved the ashtray and got up. She bent over the table and kept facing me as she started wiping its surface. My eyes timidly moved back towards her. Until that moment I hadn’t realised how full her breasts were.
After a quick and guiltless eye-hump, being the civilised person that I am, I turned my sight away from her. My eyes caught two dark Asian looking men having a conversation. I started focusing on them, thinking about them, distracting myself from her. One Pakistani is carrying a bike, the other is wearing a turban. They are standing right outside the supermarket. Two Pakistani men are standing right outside a supermarket. They could be planning a heist. No, that’s racist. A Pakistani was stabbed at 9pm the night before in the road parallel to this one. He was stabbed by another Pakistani. Probably in front of children. These men could be planning a murder. Yeah that’s it.
My mind went back to Sophia. I turned to the book and pretended to read it as I thought about her, and numbers, and coincidences. As I struggled not to look at her, I heard a voice calling my name. I picked my head up and saw her looking at me. The struggle was put on hold. My eyes slowly started travelling towards hers. Before finishing their journey, they made a stop to meet the eyes of the dark Asian looking man carrying a bike. Once Sophia had my attention, she said: “Julius can I bring this table next to yours?” I had already been smiling from my brief encounter with the man when I turned to her. She smiled back at me instantly. She kept smiling as she placed the table next to mine. Then we smiled about smiling. I said to her, “this was the most pleasant moment of my day”. “Really, how come? “It was the only one.” She seemed unimpressed. I asked for the bill. I paid it. I left.
I have a cat. I thought about it as I drove home. I didn’t feed it this morning. I couldn’t remember if I had let it out of the house before I left. The last time I left it locked inside, it shat on my bed. I pictured the inside of my house. A tactless sanctuary of dust, alcohol, smoke, books and foods so rotten they could poison a cockroach. You know it’s summer when you share a home with cockroaches. I wasn’t killing them, but my negligence could well have been doing so. With every day that passed a new cockroach would appear dead on its back at the exit. Maybe they were trying to escape. I wouldn’t blame them. There were five lying there this morning. I feel like I’m one of them. Perhaps that’s why I don’t step on them.
The car stereo was playing “ease my troublin’ mind” by Sam Cooke. I got home and parked at the driveway. I sat in the car until the song finished and then I got out and made my way to the door. As I walked towards the door, I thought about what I would drink. I had a few beers in the cellar. Take a warm one to start off with, put one in the freezer and the rest in the fridge. Do I have anything stronger? When I got to the door, I saw my cat. It began purring and rubbing its head across my leg. Somebody is hungry. I unlocked the door, got inside and shut it in its face. Something was off. I looked around in confusion. What the fuck?
The house is sparkling clean. It doesn’t smell like an ashtray. There are no dead cockroaches at the entrance. There is no rotten food lying around. No dust. There are no bottles of gin with the lid missing or warm unfinished beers which I didn’t manage to finish as I drank myself to sleep. In my office the desk is shiny, the books are back on their shelves.
On the centre of the desk lay an A4 paper with something written on it. I picked it up and looked at it. With big capital letters it says: “JULIUS BE HAPPY”. Drawn below the words are three hearts. I held it as if it was the most important thing in the world. My heart felt warm. I knew who did all this for me. A tear ran down my cheek and dripped onto the paper smudging a heart. More tears. Then my eyes were swimming in them. Resurrection. I went outside and fed the cat.