They ask me how it happened and I tell them I can’t remember. They look at me disappointed as though they would have loved to have some exclusive story to tell their friends. Then they laugh and say what’s important anyway is that I’m fine. I tell them about all the drugs I was taking back then and I feel they listen to me thinking I’m crazy or something.
They ask me if I’ve been getting any pussy lately. I think twice before answering them.
First I say I’ve been seeing someone and then I admit it’s a little serious. Out of pride, maybe. They ask me about her job and I try to keep the whole thing short and change the subject. I feel they’re looking at me as if I would be making her up, and for a minute there, I feel they could be right, or as if I’d be talking about someone who’s no longer part of my life anyway.
I feel they’re pitting me.
Some people, I think, well, most people actually, including Sam and George, think of me as a quite negative bastard. It always upsets me. I just consider myself a down to earth person. I’m always expecting the worst, to be honest, but also hoping for the best, and such way of thinking doesn’t convince them enough to believe that I’m doing much better than it might seem. They ask me if I wanna smoke a joint with them and I decline. They leave saying they are gonna call me to hang out some day soon and I know they are not gonna call me. They probably want me to call them, but I figure that if they really are good friends and all, it’s them who should call me.
I know it’s a bit selfish, but I’m like that sometimes, I like to test people.
Anyway, even though I know they are not gonna call me, I know I’m still gonna wait for their call. When I’m home I quickly get all thoughtful and sort of sad. I think of taking a bus and going to the furthest and most unknown place in the city like I did several times when I was a student. I used to stay in the bus until the bus would reach the terminal. I’d get off the bus without the slightest idea of where I was and I’d start walking. Sometimes up and down the same street if my instincts failed me.
One time I ended up in a nasty neighborhood. I took a bus after class and traveled through the city center and then to the outskirts. An old woman and I were the last passengers left when the bus arrived at the terminal. The woman got off first and the bus driver kept staring me while the bus was stopped. He said, “Hey, you gotta get off the bus, buddy, this is as far as I get, end of the line.” I got a bit embarrassed as I walked out.
The neighborhood was all grey and deteriorated. There were dirty small houses in rows and streets with huge holes everywhere. I remember this old fat guy sitting on a chair in his front yard while listening to his radio. I felt he looked at me like knowing I was not from the neighborhood, as if I were invading or infiltrating his territory. The streets were very quiet and I couldn’t see anything further from the houses, no high buildings or hills. I wasn’t afraid, though, of getting raped or kidnapped or robbed or never finding my way back home before the night would fall. I was actually quite cool about the whole thing and the idea that maybe I was just walking around in circles didn’t worry me. I like walking and I don’t usually bother to ask people for directions when I’m lost. Not that I’m too shy or proud or anything, though, I only enjoy finding my way back home on my own.
After a few minutes I took a bus without knowing for sure where it would take me. It was rush hour and as soon as I started to see some familiar places I quickly nodded off on the bus.
By Jorge Yacoman
A young man starts a relationship with a woman while struggling to remember some dark periods of his life.