His greeting was answered with barely recognisable answers. Voices raw, lips unable to form the letters and words properly anymore, the group hanging around in the park had brought damage to themselves by consuming copious amounts of alcohol and drugs, and living rough. He was a relative newcomer to the group, his voice and lips still able to produce a proper ‘hello’.
The group brought much needed connections, how strange that may sound for people who live on the streets. But think about it: living rough means you have the need to find a place to sleep every day. One that’s dry, and from where you’re not chased by angry owners. Which leads to the theme of safety. Connections, or at least belonging to a group, means some sort of protection. In any city around the world, the ones living rough lead tribal lives.
Just like a Bob Ross painting
The mountains ahead looked like they were painted by Bob Ross. Maybe you know him, he’s the guy who did these painting courses on tv. Incredibly skilled, a true craftsman. He clearly knew how to paint, even though his paintings wouldn’t probably be the ones you’d hang in your living room. Or anywhere else in your home. Or office. But still, it was amazing how with a only a few hand movements and a brush, he could create worlds in seconds. Inspiring, really. While looking at the mountains in the distance, how the intensity of their greys fade in the distance, the ones closer a bit darker than the ones that are clearly further away, you can almost hear his iconic voice, talking about where these little mountains live, and how you should push the paint right into the fabric of your canvas.
Calm water in the port
Wind sweeps up the waves, that are crashing hard on the barriers protecting the old port. They do their jobs, these barriers, as the water inside of them is as tranquil as ever. Alexis stares at his float, waiting. Tourists see the beauty of it, and take photographs of the old man fishing. He doesn’t notice, his eyes and attention fixed, for now, on the float. It doesn’t move. Even if it did, he wouldn’t care very much. He’s not waiting for the fish to take his baitless hook in their mouths. He will buy a fish at the market later, to bring home for his wife to cook. As he has done basically everyday for, well, as long as he can remember.
Old habits die hard, he noticed. Even though they seem to be forgotten, the live on, under the surface. Hidden. But it only takes a small gesture, to make them come out of hiding. He didn’t want to offend the local culture, and it was so long ago. It won’t be a problem. At least, that’s what he thought when he reached to pick up the small carafe the waitress customarily had brought after their dinner. As he pulled the stop and tipped the carafe to fill the tiny glasses with raki, his long forgotten habit was awakened. Without thinking he raised the glass, looked around the table, and downed it in one quick, aggresive move. Before he knew it, the carafe was empty. Four shot glasses of the stuff had made him a bit dizzy, but aching for more.
He noticed the glance of his long time friend, but chose to ignore it. Not drinking hadn’t been a problem for so many years, so it wouldn’t be now.
She looks at her watch, not for the first time in the past ten seconds, and takes another sip of her tea, which she finished what seems am eternity ago, but can’t be more than five minutes. Or can it? Five more minutes. Maybe he thought it was at nine, not eight. Maybe it was at nine, and she was mistaken. Five more minutes, maybe ten. Then she would give up. On tonight, on him and on online dating. This was not the first time she was checking her watch every other second, and take sips from empty cups.
Again, her eyes scan the cafe.
“Now that I’m in town, anyway..” she said. And she meant it. She was in town, so it shouldn’t be too much too ask for her to get her mother that shirt which was on sale. Just so as it never was too much too ask. Not when it was up to her. She loved helping people out, especially her mother. So, now that she was in town, she would take that tram, then a bus, and then walk for about half an hour to get to the store where this shirt her mother needed was on sale. Of course she would. She always did. As said, she loved helping people. Whenever they called her, she would answer, and say things like “now that I’m in town, anyway…”. It was on the other side of the phone, where the evil happened. Because the people around her, especially her mother, knew how much she loved to help. In stead of going to get a shirt on sale themselves, they’d wait until they knew she was in town. Or going in that general direction. Then they’d call her, and mention it to her. Not simply ask her. Just mention that they had seen something they’d like to have from a store in town. And she would fall for it, and go out of her way to get it. Just like today. The shirt her mother had seen in one of those door-to-door magazines last week was probably sold out. But she had an appointment at the clinic today, for her chronic back pain. The clinic was in town, or more precise, within the city limits, on the outskirts. But, well, it was in the city, wasn’t it.
The tram was running a bit late, so she almost missed the bus. It was already at the stop, and she was a couple of meters away. She started running, waving a bit. She did not want to wait 20 minutes. Her back hurted, more than it usually did. In the clinic they had run some tests. They were actually surprised that there was no-one with her, to bring her home. Her back hunted so much, she couldn’t really turn her head.
As she was running for the bus, she never saw the truck coming up behind her. She crossed the street. The truck driver didn’t have a chance. It was too late to brake.
Taking a class on Coursera
Going to school with 20000 students from all over the globe? Not a problem these days, and you can even stay at home while doing so. There are several offerings, but I recently tried out Coursera. To be honest: I started a course before, and dropped out after the first week. But this time I told my self to finish it. And I’m glad I did.
A couple of years ago, right before we moved into the second millennium, I wrote my first short story and even got it published. I entered it in a contest in which the 100 winners would see their stories published in a book called ‘Het boek aller tijden’ – which is Dutch for ‘The Book of All Times’. Even though I liked writing the short story, it took me over 10 years to come up with the second story. So, if you’re in for a little light reading on a Sunday, here’s the Legend of Gazibe of Lyndas: