GilThis is the seventh part of my short story, Stieg. Please would you correct my mistakes.
The owner of the company liked and respected him, and eventually Stieg became a foreman. In time, he married, and his wife gave birth to three children. He was a hard-working man who loved his job, but above all, he loved his family more than anything in the world. He talked openly with his wife and children
almostabout almost everything except his painful past. They knew him as candid, honest and courageous – a man who stood up for the weak and did not like bullies. Stieg did not wish to spoil that image of him. Even if he had told them everything from the very beginning, they would never have understood him. That was a different time and he was a different man back then.
The only person he wished to talk to about the past was Tony. He felt that Tony owed him something, an answer, explanation or apology. Now when they both were nearing the end of their lives they should talk man-to-man and bring some kind of closure. Stieg was looking for an appropriate moment to talk to him, but somehow that moment would not come. Tony was always in the company of other people, the staff or the residents. They all seemed to be enjoying his company and his stories from the countries in which he had worked during his career. Of course, Stieg could have knocked at the door of Tony’s room and ask to talk to him, but that way did not seem appropriate either. He did not want to appear as a helpless victim who had come to hear the words of remorse from his tormentor.
It was the beginning of spring, and the clusters of blue anemones appeared here and there on the thawing ground, although the ("the" is optional here. I would not use it unless it was somehow significant - as in, "the last snow of the season") snow was still covering the tops of the surrounding hills, and there were yet no leaves on the branches. Many residents of the nursing home were outside in the park, some walking on their own and others with the help of the staff, who pushed their wheelchairs on the narrow asphalt paths. As Stieg was walking along and coming across these couples, he was thinking that at least he did not need help from others. He was still capable of taking care of himself; he was still a human being who was in command of his body and senses. The majority of those in wheelchairs reminded him of the dying plants that had lost the ability to absorb the sunlight and transform it into life energy. They were inexorably rushing towards the end, completely dependent on others. Despite himself, he asked God to give him a quick death and spare him a long suffering.
He walked for about ten minutes, and then suddenly saw a well-dressed man sitting alone on the bench. He wore a brown tweed
costumecostume (A costume is usually thought of as something out of place, such as the costume a clown would wear. "suit" would be a better word here) and a tweed cap of the same colour. He held a black walking stick in his right hand, tapping the ground with its tip. From the distance, he reminded Stieg of the aristocrats he watched in the popular British TV series. When he came near and recognized Tony, his heart started to ponder. He had been waiting for this moment for more than fifty years. He could not afford to pass up this opportunity. Next time it probably would be too late.
Stieg greeted Tony and sat down without asking him for permission. “What a beautiful day,” Tony said turning his head towards him. “Isn’t life lovely! Spring is coming; you can smell it in the air. Everything and everyone is waking up after the long winter and you can feel your own blood bubbling in the veins. Pity one isn’t young anymore.”
Stieg nodded and muttered something approvingly, but his eyes wandered over Tony’s expensive clothes and shoes, which turned him into a dandy. He himself had used a costume only twice in his life, at his weeding and at his wife’s funeral. He was absorbing every detail of Tony’s clothes: the expensive fabric of the costume, a brown shirt, orange tie and matching handkerchief in the breast pocket. His black shoes were so polished that Stieg could see his reflection in them. On the handle of the walking stick there was a carved head of a lion. “The real reason he has started using stick was certainly not his difficulty with walking, but rather as a fashion accessory,” thought Stieg. “He is a real dandy.”
“What a nice costume,” he said.
“Thank you, mate. This is a proper quality,” Tony said, holding the sleeve between the thumb and forefinger. “Made in the UK. It is more than fifteen years old. It cost a fortune, but it was worth it. Such excellent quality is difficult to find nowadays. ”
There was a moment of silence and then Stieg, asked, “Did we meet before?”
Tony looked at him, and shaking his head answered, “I don’t think so.”
“Does Hotel Park in Stockholm tell you anything?”
“Hotel Park, Hotel Park...” Tony closed his eyes for a second as if running his memory back to the period Stieg had asked him about.
“There must have been decades ago,” he said, “probably at the beginning of my career.”
“Don’t you remember me?” Stieg gave him a long, steady look.
Tony looked him straight in the eyes. He shook his head. Stieg could feel almost the same feeling he felt more than five decades ago. Goose pimples started rising on his skin. There was a dull pain in his stomach as if he had an ulcer that was acting up.
“So, you don’t remember a tall blond young cook? You happen to be his boss.”
“That was so long ago, mate. I’ve been abroad for the last thirty years. I can hardly remember my birthday and my birthplace, let alone who I worked with fifty years ago.”
“Shell I refresh your memory?”
“Please, go on,” Tony said and gave him one of his broad smiles.
Stieg told him everything from the very beginning: how he enjoyed his job and the company of his colleagues until Tony arrived and started bullying him, how his harassments and rebukes had destroyed his self-confidence, how he did not dare to take a stand against him, and how he left the job he loved so much only to work in the woods instead.
TO BE CONTINUED
Student or Learner