He was sitting in the back of the room with 2 packs of cigarettes, one beer and a bottle of Ballantines. The pub was not bigger than max 30 square feet, including the bar and a worn out older bartender with a beer belly big enough to fill up 2 square meter alone. The bartender let the man alone. He was too busy to think about his daughter who finally seemed to get a job at the local hospital.
It exist a lot of these smaller pubs in this city. Cities build early in the 1000 century; cities that lived through mid age wars and two world wars in newer time. Common to them all, he had found out, was that this kind of cities were already hiding so many histories and destinies that his own past also could disappear here.
The two guests who were present in the pub were probably related to the bartender, dropping by to get a “secret” little vodka before they had to, like every other men a Sunday afternoon in Poland, be present in the church with their wives.
The man at the table stared down in the glass with whiskey. Holding around it like it was the only thing that kept him up. He only looked up every time he lifted the glass to his lips to drink. He had not touched the beer yet. It had become stale in the time he had used to get the bottle with Ballantines to half empty. A bitter smile showed on his face when he stared at the bottle in front of him. He wondered how many young people he had said it to; bottles and glass are not half EMPTY, they are half FULL! Positive thinking people! He moaned deep in his throat; -Positive? My ass! He should have been thinking more negative the way he saw himself now. What had he got out of being positive? He got cold chills by the thought of the word.
He let the air out of the nose as he emptied the glass and let the brown liquid glide down the throat. Felt the smoked taste of malt, barley and oak. Felt how the sensation of the alcohol spread in the body. The pressure behind his eyes didn’t get any better, but the alcohol made wonders after all. The well known feeling of relaxation came spreading like a blanket over him. Relaxation, mixed with courage. He needed both now, he thought. If he was to have peace, be able to sleep, he had to have courage. Could not stand the thought of yet another night like last night. Bathing in sweat in a hotel room. Alone and sleepless. Fighting alone and helpless against the Demons from his past. Against the Beast in his belly. Against the constant thoughts about end it all. Be alone against everything. He could not take it.
The man felt a deep feeling in belly wich he thought was hunger. He got up a little stiff and towards the bathroom he ordered the bartender to “mix something”. The bartender nodded his head. It was not the first time he had alcoholics as guests in his bar. He went out in the little kitchen in the back room. Put on the gas stove, found some boiled potatoes, four eggs and a frying pan. He didn’t hesitate to make the food, but it was very difficult to get around the bar and go to the man with the food.
When the man came back from the bathroom the food was already on the table. Fried potatoes, fired eggs, some slices of bread and another bottle of whiskey. Fuck, had he already drunk up the first one? No, there were still three – four stiff drinks left. Then he understood it; the bartender had problems to get from the bar and to his table with his enormous belly. So he made it easier for himself in this way.
He ate the food that was infront of him. It didn’t taste anything at all and poured it down with the beer. But the feeling in belly didn’t give in. Fuck, he thought. Talking to the Beast in his belly; you are supposed to sleep when you get alcohol, stupid furry thing! But the Beast didn’t agree. It stretched out its claws, scratching against his intestines.
He bended over in pain. “Damn it!” the word came so hard and loud that the two men by the bar jumped a bit. He filled up the glass. Drank it all down at once. – Medicine, he said to the two men. They smiled, lifted their glasses with vodka in some kind of a toast. But they understood that the middle aged man with the blue eyes and high hairline not was there for the pleasure and turned rapidly back to their own problems. The Beast calmed down. But it had produced sweat that was in his forehead. He used the arm of his long sleeve to dry it off. Lightened up a red Marlboro and filled up the glass again with shaky hands. The man went back to his own world, with one hand around the glass and an empty stare down in the table.
He didn’t visit her often. It was a year since the last time. But he knew she would be there. So he didn’t call, didn’t give any message at all that he was coming. Just took a taxi to the bar where she worked. He knew she would be there, she was – like himself – locked in her role. In her life. They were both humans that no longer had someplace to run to, and no place to go back to.
Inga was sitting with a client when he entered the bar. She said a couple of words on her own language to the client and walked towards the man; -hey, my Devil! You`re back? To me, yes? She talked with a Russian accent. Of course, he thought, she is from Lithuania. He had almost forgot her accent. –Oh yes, he said . –Told you so … You`ll never know when I`m back, but you can always be sure that I will.
They had been through this before. Very simple really, he thought. We both know what will happen. Inga was a pro. And he knew her well. Knew damn well that Inga was not her real name. But he didn’t care and neither did she. Details in two destroyed lives, not important.
In her little apartment she went straight away to change clothes. From a minimal short dress to a see through white top and tight light jeans. She looked at him; -Now you my Devil. He stood against the wall. She came very close to him. He could smell her perfume. Looked straight into her clear blue eyes. –You know it`s for I love you my Devil? Her English were far from good. But he understood. He didn’t answer, he knew she didn’t want an answer. One hour and a shower later she took a taxi back at work and with a light hug she said; -C ya my Devil, buy me dinner one evening? -Sure, he said, -Thanks Inga … you`re medicine.
The glass was still not empty. The man by the table came out of his own world when the two men at the bar said good bye to the bartender and left. The man did the same. On weary legs he grabbed some money and paid. Without waiting for the change, he took the bottle of whiskey and steered for the door and walked towards downtown.
In a small green lounge right before the city he sat down on a bench. Ignoring the people who were passing by, took a zip of the bottle and let the thoughts take him home.
He moved his hand towards his cheek that still could feel the pain and sting after her beatings yesterday. Inga was a pro. No marks, only sting, good stings. She is a therapist, he thought. And a friend. But not as friend that supports you and gives advices. Not a friend like the one he had back home. The blonde. Pretty, kind, smart. And beautiful. So fucking beautiful. And a real bestfriend. The man took a zip of the bottle, lightened up another cigarette and leaned backwards to the bench. The blonde with the name that meant “ Sent by God.” He smiled and dozed off.
He got woken up of his sleep on the bench where he was hanging with his head down to his chest. Or pulled out of his sleep is more right to say, when it was two boys that had grabbed him so he fell forward into the grovel without anything for support. The pain that came when the grovel hit his face was nothing compared to the anger and humility he felt inside him. The rage didn’t need time to build up, he reacted in the way he in young age decided never to react again – with violence.
The boys laughed when he stood up on weary legs. The oldest one, and they were hardly 20 neither of them, was about to say something when the mans fist broke his nose. The boy didn’t look shocked, he just got a surprised look on his face and he looked down on his shirt wich where covered in blood. His own blood. He screamed like a child, held for his face and ran away. Away from the drunken man with eyes filled with evil. His friend stared shocked on the scene in front of him. He understood he also should leave, but he was standing there, staring fascinated at the man wich in no time had transformed from a sleepy drunk into an animal. The man looked him onto his eyes and said something the boy didn’t understand. In that moment he heard his own collar bone crack and he regretted he had stood up from bed that day. He sank down towards the bench and started to cry.
St. Marys Church or Marienkirchen as the germans calls it is only 5 minutes walk from where the man so suddenly had been awaken from his lovely dream of her. But the man used more than 20 minutes on that road. The bottle he had was nearly emptied on that time. And people on the street went around him in big loops. No one wanted to come close to the being that walked a little low in back, blood on his arm and eyes full of evil.
People thought he hated them but the truth is that he hated himself. Hated himself for the situation he was in. Hated himself for the Beast in the belly. Hated himself for the Demons that had taken place in his soul and now had multiplied and found their way into his lounges.
They pierced him with spiers and swords. From the inside, in both lounges now. And the Beast in the belly were growling and scratching his intestines.
Right outside the church stairs it became too much for the man. With a scream that would have made a lion concerned, he went down on his knees. Threw his bottle of Ballantines in the wall so it shattered in a thousand pieces. He looked at the glass around him. Saw his own life in the same way.
Broken glass can cut you up and make you bleed. But a broken glass can be pout together again with glue if you have all the pieces. The man could not do this with his own life. He could had put it together in a way, but he missed many pieces. He missed the most important piece also. He missed her.
His heavy cough and his screams of pain seemed to come from hell itself. The man bend together like a self-defense from the kicks and strokes from the Devil. Kept his arms around himself in protection and slowly moved body from side to side. Breathing heavily. The Beast and the Demons had decided to wake up.
Death hold him in his arms. Registrating his pulse. The man didn’t understand why Death wanted to know why he had a pulse or not? Death talked loud in a language he didn’t understand. Could it be Polish? Did Death have helpers in every country, in every city maybe? – of course Death had helpers. It was plenty enough that was to be brought home every day.
The man got a new cramp attack when the Beast hitted him in his belly. The pain was unbearable, it was a fire in his belly when the Beast used his claws inside his belly, like to sharpen them.
-Its good that Death came now, the man thought in his fever. Good it is soon over. Soon sleep, he mumbled to himself. Then everything would be fine again. She had said it would be good to sleep. He trusted her, she was one of the angels.
But why would Death always want to talk to him? The man had a feeling that Death was asking him questions all the time. And why was the Devil in team with Death in this mission? Why??
Death was clipping up his shirt. The Devil put something over his nose and mouth, strangling him. He fought against it. Didn’t want it. Didn’t want a death mask on. The torture was maybe a part of a ritual? Something the Death and the Devil had a little fun with before they took him over the Styx river? The man saw in a fog of fever, pain and tears the Devil filled up a needle. The Death hold him in an iron grip. Searching for a pounding vein and wanted to inject the poison in him.
-No fucking way, the man thought loud. –I don’t want my last shot here. –Have to call her first. Have to tell her that I love her.–Fuck you!!! The man screamed and with strength created by raw anxiety of death he managed to get one arm loose and hit away the needle the Devil was about to put into his arm. –Go to hell, he shouted. In that moment he realized what he had said and to whom. Wasn’t it there he was on his way to anyway? The man started to laugh over his own words and stupidity. The laughter was hollow and more like an expression of fear than anything else.
With the laughter the cough came. The Demons in his lounges were dancing. Flying around in hysterical circles, stitching their sharp ends of their wings on the walls of his lounges. They held on, would not leave this paradise.
The man tried to get up, but the Devil held him down. Holding the death mask over his face and talked to him while the Death finally got to put the needle in the vein that earlier had only one mission; to get enough blood to the mans broken heart. A heart that lately only had pumped blood, loveblood, to the mans brain where the blood helped transform all thoughts and memories of her into good dopamine’s. Good thoughts, the man thought when he notices the Deaths poison spread in his body. Forced him to be calm, sleepy and at the same time it removed the day light.
The two anesthetic docs finally breathed easily when the morphine they had put in his arm finally seemed to work. One of them adjusted the oxygen and fixed the mask over the mans face and thought for himself that this had been quite an opening on his shift. First a young boy with broken nose, then a crying boy with a broken collar bone and now this apparently very sick man.
He took place by the patients side. The other one took place in the driver seat, put on sirens and blue lights, maneuvered the vehicle into the street and drove towards the hospital.
With the sleep the angels also came. Finally.
They came both of them. Took place on each side of the man who now could fly. He was floating like he was in a bed carried by human hands.
The blonde angel were standing, as always when he had this dream, by his left side. But unlike his other dreams about the angels she was now holding on to him.
She was so beautiful he thought. Beautiful and good. She was beautiful and good also when he was alive and knew her also, but this mighty light he now was beneath gave the blonde angel a halo. The blonde angel never touched him in his dreams, never spoke. She was just there. Almost like when I was alive, he thought. She was always there. For him. I want to touch her, he thought, but he couldn’t move his arms. Death had locked him with straps. By his head she stood; the angel with the dark hair. His comfort, his friend, his love, his hope. He called her elpida. It means simply “hope.” She stroke him over his fore head with a soothing, chilly soft hand. Hold his hand safely. Talked to him like a mother talks to her child;
-You will sleep soon, now my friend. You are going home. Her voice were low, soft and loving.
-Where have you been, he asked her. -Why haven’t you sendt me messages? I have missed you so much, I have waited for your signs. On the national day when you were to meet your new boyfriend. I had such a great day because you were so happy … But you never answered my messages. I became so sad. Was this all I was left with after so long time together?
The man didn’t cry. But he was fighting against tears when he was talking to his beloved angel. –I need you, he continued. -I cant sleep now. I have not made my own testament yet. I have not been able to tell everyone what they mean to me.
The angel with hair as black as raven wings slowly bend down to his cheek. Whispering: -Your testament is here, my friend. It is in your heart, in your reputation, with me. I am here to tell you that you have to let me go. You have nothing to prove for those you love, they love you and I will tell you a little truth: Its us you have helped through difficult situations, guided us, given us advices. –Its us you gave back self confidence and hope. –Its us you poured your love onto.–We are the ones that will write your testament. –We are the ones who are your testament. –You have done your part, my dear. Let us go. Let us fly. –Let us live!
She kissed his cheek, stroke her fingers a couple of times over his fore head, smiled to the blonde angel wich smiled back. The she did something she has never done before, not in one of his dreams;
She drew the sign of the cross with her finger over his chest. And in that time the cough came again. He was so empty of energy that it became no more than two deep coughs.
But this time it helped. The Demons came out. He could feel them climb up the air pipe and out of his right corner of mouth. The man felt them climb down in an endless stream, a sticky and warm stream. They gathered by his throat, but on the outside.
The Beast also fell asleep. Satisfied the Demons now finally disappeared.
The two angels looked at each other, smiled to the man, released him and it became dark, silent and peaceful.
The young girl had only been a nurse for two months when she was told to sit by the bed of a stranger, a foreign man at the hospital. She was just to sit there and be there.
The doctor had said there were no hope for the man. The tumor in his belly was too big to be removed by an operation. Besides, the cancer had spread to his lounges and other vital organs. So the nurse was to sit there, be there for him in his last moments.
She dried his fore head and held his hand. Waited for the hospital priest who had been notified. She hoped he would get there before the end.
Later that night when she went to her father in the bar he owned and worked in, she told him about three words the stranger had said wich she didn’t understand. But her big father had no particular interest in what his daughter had to say. He was busy maneuvering his large body around and clean the tables before he was to close.
-It was so strange, said the daughter. –At the same moment the priest drew the sign of the cross on the mans chest, he coughed blood. The blood poured down on the white pillow and there the red liquid drew a heart.–It was nearly beautiful. –The man smiled when he died, she told her father. But I don’t know wich language he spoke or wich God he called for on his last breath.–He said the words so clear, he said them with love.
He said: Thank you, elpida.