GilThis is the ninth part of my short story, The Poet. Please would you correct my mistakes.
The car slowed gradually before we arrived at the residence of the Prime Minister. I was anticipating seeing a large building surrounded by high railings and guards carrying weapons, but there were no fence, walls or any kind of guards around. It was a two storey house with a rather boring grey facade and white windows. The only decoration I could notice was a coat of arms above the heavy white door. On both sides of the entrance, there were a lot of flowers, which were in full bloom and emanating rich scents. There was calm and
silentsilence but for the birds twittering and singing in the nearby trees. The Prime Minister and his wife waited for me at the door and shook hands with me.
“Please, don’t call me The Prime Minister. I hate to be different from other people. Just call me George. And you can call her Bess,” he said pointing at his wife.
So this was the man I had seen so many times on TV quarrelling with the opposition in the parliament. He would shake his fist, blush, shout, curse and insult anyone who dared to oppose him, especially the leader of the opposition. Later on, I would watch him keeping his composure under assaults by the media and malicious journalists. They bombarded him with provocative questions, but he always remained calm. Nothing seemed to ruffle him, to deflect him from his path. Although I never cared about politics, watching him I could not but admire him. I probably would have exploded or hit some of these talentless hacks, but he, like a great actor, wore his mask with dignity. Now
aI had athe privilege to watch him at close quarters, and I could see that physically there was nothing special about him. He was of my height and overweight, with most of his hair already grey and retreating from his forehead. He was wearing a pink shirt without a tie and dark trousers. I could have passed by him in the street without giving him a glance. His wife was in her fifties, about ten years younger than he was. Her figure was slim and without wrinkles (this says that her figure had no wrinkles. Change to "Her figure was slim and she had no wrinkles") on her face, and I wondered whether this was a result of her genes or some kind of surgery. She wore a light blue dress, and had a blue coral necklace around her neck. They led me into the dinningdining room. It was an impressive room with a high ceiling and two chandeliers. The walls were covered in large paintings and tapestries. Heavy green curtains hung at large windows. There was a long table with a dozen ofchairs, but we sat at a smaller round table in the corner. A waiter, dressed in white pulled a chair for me to sit, which made me feel important.
“Coffee, or tea?” The Prime Minister asked, and when I said coffee, the waiter poured coffee into my mug and then into the other two. My mouth felt dry, and I sipped the warm liquid, which tasted wonderful. It was the best coffee I had ever drank in my life.
“Please help yourself,” The Prime Minster said waving his hand over the table filled with food and drink. There were different kinds of bread, marmalades, honey, butter, margarine, cheese, patés, ham, eggs and other food I had never before seen in my life. There were juices, milk, fruit yogurt, oat drink... My eyes swept over this abundance and my stomach rumbled. I picked up a bread roll, divided it, spread both sides with butter and marmalade and ate them slowly, although my stomach was urging me to eat faster.
As we all three were chewing our respective food, the Prime Minister said, “Boris, please tell us something about yourself. How old are you? Where do you live? Do you work? Are you satisfied with your life?”
Upon hearing his questions, I felt my blood rushing to my head, turning my face crimson. I was ashamed that I did not work and instead was living on handouts. But I found the courage and told him precisely how I felt. “Dear boy, he said, “Don’t feel guilty for something which you’ve never done. It’s your full right to get help from society when you’re in need. We should all be proud of our welfare state, which takes care of its citizens when their lives are changing for the worse. No one should feel outside, no one should feel alone and abandoned. We are like a large family, sharing the good and the bad.”
He was a great speaker and made me feel less tense. I had not intended to tell him all the details of my life, but somehow his presence filled me with confidence, and I told him about my family, especially my mother and my troubled relationship with her. In one moment, Bess, the Prime Minister’s wife, put her hand on my arm and squeezed it lightly, “Poor boy,” she said, “you’ve suffered so much in your life. It’s not easy when your own mother does not understand you, or
trytries to control you.”
“Parents can be terrible,” the Prime Minister said. “My own father was a difficult man. He was a successful architect and wanted for me the same career. When I chose to study law, he was so angry that he didn’t want to speak with me for
fourfor years. In his small world, the architecture was one of the most important fields of human creativity. He couldn’t understand that his son wasn’t interested in designing bridges, music halls, towers and other masterpieces, which were going to be preserved for posterity. And when I became a politician, he told me that any prostitute was far more honest than a politician. He also compared the parliament to a large brothel, unfortunately financed by the taxpayers’ money. Pity he didn’t live long enough to see me as the Prime Minister. He would have probably called me the greatest pimp.”
The Prime Minister asked me how I was spending my time, and when I told him that I wrote poetry his face brightened. “How wonderful,” he exclaimed. And then turning to his wife he said, “Bess, you see, our friend is a poet. They are a great gift to humankind.”
Bess asked me what kind of poetry I was writing and if I had already published my poems, and I told her I was writing about my own life and what I observed in everyday life. I told her that I had never tried to publish anything, although I had been writing poetry for years. I was self-critical and self-deprecating and I did not believe that my verses were so good to be published.
“I wrote poetry too, although that was many decades ago,” said the Prime Minister.” I started as a teenager in school and continued at university until the day when I wrote a poem to a very beautiful girl in my
courseclass. She looked at me with disdain, tore my poem into pieces and screamed, ‘You fat pig! Who do you think you are?’ That was such a shock to me that I never again wrote a verse.
“Would you like to publish your poem,” Bess asked.
“Of course,” I answered. “That would be one of the happiest moments of my life”
“George,” he said, “We must help Boris. He has suffered so much. You certainly know some publishers who could help him. They’ll listen to you. They publish so much rubbish nowadays anyway. At least, Boris has something important to tell, which needs to be read all over the country.”
“All right. I’ll do my best,” he said. “Boris, I’ll send
tomorrowMr Katz tomorrow. You can gather your poems and give them to him. And I’ll try to contact some people in the publishing world, and we’ll see what they’re going to say.”
To be continued.