The Poet, part eight
This is the eighth part of my short story,The Poet. Please, would you correct my mistakes.
Since then I had lived on welfare. Sometimes I had a pang of conscience. I sat at the window in the morning and watched my fellow citizens rushing to work. They were drowsy and pressured, and reminded me of automata without their own will. But they had no alternative because they had to pay off their debts and feed their families. They were paying taxes and indirectly provided for me and millions of others in the similar situation. Occasionally, I would walk the streets during the rush hour in the afternoon and watch the countenances of these hard-working people hurrying to their homes. I had never noticed a smile or a cheerful appearance. Even the beautiful young woman had a coating of greyness, which spoilt their beauty. The fast tempo of life would inevitably age them prematurely and put more wrinkles on their faces.
It was no wonder that depression was rampant. Everyone was in pursuit of an elusive goal, which drained their energy and mental capacities. The only thing which was certain was that somewhere along the road there was a psychiatrist patiently awaiting them to tell them what went wrong and prescribe them more medicine. If I had not had my poetry, I would probably have succumbed to death or insanity. It was my lover, my religion and my only hope. I could imagine living in utter poverty for the rest of my life, but I could not imagine my life without poetry. Whenever I sat in front of my typewriter with a sheet of paper rolled into the platen, I would feel euphoric. I could feel my body filling up with a strange kind of energy, which probably was not from this world. I typed the verses, but they were not separated from me as they appeared on the paper. They were my blood and my breath. They pulsated to the beat of my heart. I heard passerby talking about their super fast Internet connections, iPods, computers, video games and other modern gadgets and I felt pity for them. Everything what they had or what they had experienced simply paled in comparison with the pleasure I would experience with poetry. I could spend eight, ten or more hours, writing and polishing the poem, and still, I was not tired. On the contrary, I felt rejuvenated as if I had drunk from a magic spring.
On the Sunday evening, I lay in bed trying to sleep, but my mind still drifted and I was unable to control the thoughts, which came in waves and made me worried. Was I going to say something improper at the table? Was I going to offend the Prime Minister with my thoughts about the economic situation in the country? Was I going to spoil this unique opportunity, and then walk out of his residence like a miserable wretch, who despised himself and hoped that someone would kill him and end his suffering and further humiliations? Maybe I should have politely declined the invitation and went on with my life as before? The telephone call had disturbed my inner peace and laid bare the true reality of my life, which I did not want to see. I did not exist like an ordinary human being, but rather vegetated in a void and controlled by some invisible power, which shaped my destiny.
I must have fallen into sleep sometime after midnight, and I woke up early in the morning. I took a bath and shaved myself. I looked at myself in the mirror and felt ashamed of my body, which I had neglected for years. The rolls of fat on my stomach and my limbs made me look ugly, and I was relieved I could always cover them with clothes and avoid looking at them. I knew I was eating a lot of unhealthy food not because of hunger, but to alleviate my despair. I could only imagine how I would look like in the future when fatty deposits grow all over my body and make my movements awkward. I could not continue in this way. I looked myself in the eyes and promised that from today I would take care of my body. I would eat less, walk more and do push-ups and sit-ups every day.
I dressed myself, looked at the mirror, walked around the flat and was pleased with my appearance. My clothes were smart, clean and smelled good. I had no reason to panic. Although I was economically poor, my spirit and imagination were rich; my will to write poetry stronger than ever. I had never broken the law, never quarrelled with the police or any other authority. I had never stolen anything, not even a chewing gum when I was a child. The only thing I could be ashamed of was being on welfare. But I was convinced that when my host heard my story he would understand my situation and not believe that I was some kind of a good-for-nothing, but rather the victim of the circumstances.
The doorbell rang at nine on the dot. I opened the door, expecting some middle-aged gentlemen with well-toned bodies and dark sunglasses covering their eyes, but in front of me were two men in their late twenties, who neither wore sunglasses, nor had earpieces in their ears. They were smartly dressed in dark suits, but reminded me more of students than someone working for the head of the state. They both smiled, shook hands with me and one of them said, “Mr Boris we’ll take you to the Prime Minister's residence.” We walked to the side street where a dark Mercedes waited for us. It felt so incongruous in this dilapidated suburb, like an alien ship from another world. Some passersby stood watching, probably believing that I was arrested by the plain-clothes police and gave me pitiful glances. (Criminality in this part of the town was something normal, and people had been used to watch their neighbours being arrested for all kind offences: extortion, drug dealing, burglary and even killing). The interior of the car smelled nice, some kind of pine scent mixed with the black leather of the seats. A young driver said hello looking at me in the mirror when I sat back, together with one of my companions. He started the car and soon we sailed through the streets like a large yacht. I had to strain my ears to hear the motor running. The driver switched on the stereo, and from the loudspeakers played Peter Tosh’s Johny Be Good.
“Do you like Peter Tosh, Boris?” The driver asked me.
“Oh, Yes,” I answered, “I like reggae. Marley, Tosh, Cliff...
“We like them too,” the man beside the driver said, “And weed also, but we can’t smoke it now, because we’re on duty.” They all burst out laughing, and I did not know if the man was serious when he named smoking marihuana, or just joked.
“Do you like the car?” The man beside me asked.
“Yes,” I said. “It’s wonderful.”
“Indeed. Is’s almost indestructible. Nothing can stop it, neither shots nor grenades. And it is fast like light. Peter, let’s show Mr Novak how fast you can drive.”
The street in front of us was straight and almost empty. The car accelerated and it seemed we were defying gravity and flying above the city while everything stood still. For my companions this was an everyday experience, and they seemed not to be excited at all while I enjoyed every second of it, knowing that this opportunity would never come up again.
To be continued.
Re: The Poet, part eight
The story is coming along nicely. I changed "light" (which is fast) to lightning because it is a more familiar term.
Originally Posted by Bassim
Re: The Poet, part eight
Thank you so much for your help. It really means very much to me. Regarding Boris Novak, Boris is his first name, and Novak his family name. I just mixed up these names during the writing.
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