Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta education. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta education. Mostrar todas las entradas

miércoles, 25 de octubre de 2017

Boxing wounds

   Curing the knuckles had become something of a tradition after each fight. His gloves had to be removed carefully, or the pain would drive him furious if he had lost or would have ruined his moment if he had won. The Hammer was the nickname chosen by the fans to refer to him and he certainly had some thing reminiscent of that object. Not only was he overwhelmingly strong, he was also taller than most boxers and would always use that in his advantage, in very clever ways.

 Carefully, some pure alcohol would be applied to his hands and to the rest of his body, wherever he could have scars. This was done after he showered himself thoroughly. It had been known to happen that he was so weak after a fight that someone went into the showers with him in order to help him stand and use the soap. That normally happened when he had lost and it wasn’t a nice thing to witness. He would always be furious those times and it wasn’t great to be near him.

 The Hammer had started fighting very early in his life. He had been a bully back in school but, thankfully, his religious upbringing had helped him seek an exit from his ways through a sport and boxing had always been very popular in that neighborhood, one of those parts of town where every single person has their family working in some store or factory. Boxing saved The Hammer from becoming a butcher, a machine operator or even a cashier. His future was slightly brighter.

 He started in fights celebrated behind closed doors. He was still underage so it wasn’t legal to make him fight but it was the only way to properly use his skills. He had such rage; such need to be fighting other men. It was fantastic to see him use his fists, one, two and then both almost at the same time. His legs were fast too, so he had it all to be the very best boxer ever, in the world. And he knew this, so his ego started to grow each day, like a weed. It just got into his head.

When he reached adulthood, everyone in the boxing circuit knew exactly who The Hammer was. His techniques and legendary way of finishing his fights was very well known and he had received acclaim from every single part of society: the poor, the rich, the workers, the owners, the old and the young, as well as from men and women. That was in part his undoing, or the moment he started going downhill. When he lost for the first time, the felt everything that had happened before was just forgotten by everyone else. He thought he was going to be ostracized.

 However, that’s when he met Howard. He was a guy his age but not physically fit like him. He wasn’t fat or lanky but just not someone as big and powerful as The Hammer. He was shorter and had shown the way of words and books. Recently returning from his stay abroad, he had gone to the university and learned quite a few things around there. He was well known once he got back to the neighborhood because he had chosen to become a nurse instead of a proper doctor.

 His parents were not pleased by his decision and it was clear everyone in that part of town had their opinion about Howard. But he simply did not care. He had lived there before and he knew people would respect that, even if they spoke behind his back. And they sure did: in the supermarket and on the street, pointing and giggling and laughing out loud. It was especially the youngest ones around, repeating their parents behavior, who shouted word to the man, with no response heard back.

 Two days after he had returned to the city, his sister decided to take him to a boxing match. She wanted others to see how Howard was a real man, and such a sporting event would be the perfect way to make them realize all that was said about him was a lie. When they reached the venue, they sat very far from the ring but were able to see perfectly when The Hammer lost, again, against a huge blond man who seemed more like a refrigerator than like a real human male.

 Each punch, each swift move, hurt Howard deep inside. He was certain that was not the kind of sport he liked to see and he didn’t want to see that ever again. And then more punches came and some stitches blew open. Blood was all over the place and The Hammer was soon announced as the loser. Howard was so affected by what he had seen, that he just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. However, his sister had to go to the bathroom and took especially long that day.

 As he waited, he saw the refrigerator man passing by. He seemed more like a robot than anything else. And then came two guys, holding The Hammer and trying to take him to his dressing room. He was badly beaten and it was obvious that place didn’t have a proper infirmary. His need to help kicked in and Howard helped the men carry The Hammer and take him to a sofa in his room. There, they waited for the nurse they had brought but she seemed overwhelmed by the blood and she lacked most of what was necessary. Howard jumped in, not thinking.

 The woman and the men helped him get what he needed to patch The Hammer up. His face was severely swollen, he couldn’t speak at all. Alcohol was rubbed all over, carefully not to burn the fighter. Howard himself took off the gloves and the shorts and the shoes. Everything had to come off in order to help properly. It took several hours, effort and supplies, bought from a nearby pharmacy by the boxer’s friends, but he was eventually saved from further damage.

 Howard’s sister had left, so he decided to join The Hammer and his friends to his house. He still lived with his mother, near the melting plant. He was carried by the men and left in a mattress on the ground, which was apparently his bed. He slept on a room downstairs, by the kitchen. The men, thanking Howard, asked him if he wanted to have something to eat. His stomach ached, so he accepted. So they all left to buy some fried chicken and he was left alone with his patient.

 He changed some of the patched done and tried to clean the man’s face with a moist cloth. He carefully washed every single centimeter, trying not to make him feel any pain. However, The Hammer woke up as Howard was cleaning his neck. He wasn’t anxious at all, or nervous. He moved his swollen lips and Howard realized he was thanking him for his help. Howard smiled and the boxer tried to do the same. If anyone had been there, they would have told the male nurse that Hammer never smiled.

 They stared at each other and no sound was made. The Hammer wanted to say something else, to try and pretend he was feeling fine. But every single bone in his body felt like it was bruised. He could stand it but he didn’t really know what else to say. Out of nowhere, Howard resumed his task of cleaning the sportsman, finishing his neck and then moving on to his hand and forearms. He finally cleaned his feet, which made the boxer laugh and then yell some curse words because of the pain.

 Howard tried not to but he couldn’t hold the laughter. He tried to apologize but he couldn’t. When The Hammers laughed to, apparently ignoring his own state, he realized there was nothing to fear about his reaction. Laughter was definitely needed.


 When the laughter subsided and just moments before they could smell fried chicken, the boxer grabbed one of Howard’s hands and told him his name was Kevin. They both smiled. Afterwards, they all ate and new relationships began to blossom, slowly.

miércoles, 8 de marzo de 2017

Waste of space

   Every day was almost exactly the same. He would wake up, have something to eat, then shower, look for a job and then lunch. After that, it would be hours and hours of basically nothing until dinner. At night and in the morning he would exercise a bit and before going to bed he would watch something, like a movie or whatever was available. That was life like for him, even after he had decided it would be different. His decisions in life had amounted to nothing and he didn’t know what to do.

 He had been living there for almost a year and nothing had happened, nothing at all. Not a single change since his arrival. He tried to keep it different by distracting himself with movie or by going out to walk around the city, but that didn’t change anything either. It was a perpetual movement he was trapped in, a series of actions he repeated every single day, every week and every single month, no matter the little differences like weather or things like that. Things didn’t change.

 He had tried to change them. He had really tried but he soon realized that one person couldn’t really change the world. Whoever had said that in the past was wrong. A single lonely human couldn’t change a thing in this world. Every major shift had to involve lots of people with a common goal and a certain organization. And he didn’t have that at all. He was alone and he depended on his parents for survival. They weren’t happy for him or anything, but they felt they couldn’t refuse him help.

 The money he received as an allowance was used very carefully to pay for the apartment, the bills and the food. Those were the normal expenses. He sometimes used the money for distractions, going out and that sort of thing. In those instances he would have to remember that he was taking money away for his food. He never minded. Besides, it wasn’t something he did often; on the contrary, he managed his money in the most careful way because it was just enough to survive.

 But that was the thing: he had been thinking for a long time if it was worth it to keep on living as he was. He was draining money from his parents every month, he was sitting on his ass doing nothing, except getting older and older people have a harder time getting a job. But no one was giving him a job, not now or before. Not when he was recently graduated or after his various years of studies all over the place. They had never acknowledged him as a nothing more than a man that could pick up a phone or move boxes from one place to the other.

 The money he earned for such jobs disappeared very fast. Most of it was taken away by the health service they provided, which he never used. And the rest was used to pay debts or bills. Nothing remained. Those times, whoever, he could grab a little more from his parents money in order to have fun, even for a short period of time. He would get drunk, go out and party and just forget about everything in his life and who he was. He lost himself every time or at least he tried.

 He loved going out to dark places with loud music, wherever they could have alcohol. He even tried drugs a couple of times but it wasn’t his thing. The point of it all was forgetting his life, which was pathetic and sad. He was a leech and a waste of space. He remembered that expression once and it had gotten stuck on his head since then because it described so well what he thought of his place in life. He did feel as if he was a waste of space and would have loved it to be different.

 But it wasn’t things are as they are and one’s blind optimism cannot change that. People want every single person in the world to think blindly that everything is going to be ok but the reality of life is that probably nothing will be ok. The world itself is more and more violent, not a hospitable place for actual life to develop. So why should people be blind to that? Why should be people avoid the truth, instead of embracing it and maybe then find a solution for whatever the problem is?

 Many times, he looked around his house and carefully planned his last day on Earth. It was kind of like a game he played with himself when things where a its lowest. He would imagine cutting his wrists on the tub and having one of those almost artistic deaths, with the blood tainting the water slowly and also spilling gently to the floor. It looked almost like a romantic thing inside his head. But it would take too long and that wasn’t something he was very eager about.

 He imagined many other outcomes for his life. Some more admittedly violent and graphic but others were even more subtle that the one in the tub. He had a great imagination, which he used laying on his bed, waiting for someone to respond to his calls looking for one of the many menial jobs the world had to offer. He had realized a while ago that no one was going to give him a good job where he could feel like a real person. He was apparently built to be a slave and he had decided he didn’t mind at all, it was his destiny all along and that was settled.

 Sure enough, he had two jobs latter on: one as part of the cleaning crew in a hospital and another one in a supermarket, doing basically the same thing. He would break his back for a pay that was laughable but there was nothing else to do. However, he decided one day to ask his parents not to send him any more money. They did ask him “why” but he never answered, so they just did as they were told and the subject never came up again, in telephone conversations or when he visited, which was rare.

He had decided he would survive with whatever he had. His meals were greatly reduced and he had to move to another apartment, one even smaller in a much uglier part of the city. He sold some of his belongings too, in order to pay for the first couple of months. He tried to set aside something every month for pleasure, such as alcohol or whatever he would be in the mood for. Those small moments were not of joy but of quiet and a certain peace, which he still enjoyed.

 After some months living his new life, he got very sick with the flu. He stopped earning money for almost three weeks. When the disease didn’t kill him, the lack of food almost did. He actually had to be rushed into the hospital but he escaped it as soon as he could because he didn’t have the money to pay for a hospital bed. He just bought bread and medicine and hoped for the best. He was fired from the hospital he worked in but kept the supermarket job, where they raised his salary a bit in order to make him do more stuff.

 As always, he didn’t really mind. He got better, or just about, and start working harder every day. The hours were longer than before and this time he had to work every single day of the week but at least he was distracted by something. He didn’t have time to ponder or think about what could have been or what the future may hold for him. Those were empty questions now and no one care about the answers. He had lost the will to rebel in any way. He just lived, if that’s what it’s called.


 He was eventually fired from that job too. Not long after that, he decided to jump off a bridge that passed over a highway. His parents had nothing to keep from him anymore, as he had sold almost everything except and old notebook he had kept from when he was young, Inside, he had written a number of stories and he had also drawn lots of characters and abstract figures. They took one look at it and then stored it away somewhere. The man became a memory and, after his parents died, it was as if he had never existed on this Earth.

sábado, 23 de julio de 2016

The killer

   No matter how loud she got, it wasn’t loud enough for anyone to hear her, after all, it was very late at night in a small city in which people always went to bed exactly a the same hour. And even if they didn’t fall asleep, they were inside their homes, unable to help anyone in need. Some said, days later, that they had heard a scream coming from somewhere that night. Psychologists said the people that swore by that were just guilty, saying things that didn’t happen.

 She yelled and screamed more than once. She fought her attacker with everything she had: her purse, her heels, but nothing worked. And least of all against his knife, which turned the street into a butcher’s shop. The police had a real problem when discovering the body because she hadn’t been murdered in alley or by a river. Veronica Slate had been assassinated two blocks away from her house, the night she was graduating from a business class.

 The killer’s face was known to no one and it was very possible that none of the town’s inhabitants had ever seen him. Mainly, because he had never been there before and would never come back. He had no need to and he was dedicated to what he did so he knew exactly how to do things, how not to be predictable and silly over such obvious things as location. People invented his face in their minds, bases on images of killers they had seen in movies. Of course, they were not accurate.

 He moved on to another town and stayed there for a week in a small hotel by the main square. He had no urge there, no need to make a move. He just walked around and chilled until he decided it had been enough. He took another bus and there was a second victim by the end of a very traumatic week because of the celebrations of the national day and a scandal involving a senator and his daughter.

 The body of Rosa Pérez was found in the middle of the most used avenue in that town. It was a place filled with people every single day but, somehow, no one had seen anything. It was a bigger town than the one before so they were sure a camera would have picked up something. But it didn’t. There was nothing they could use, no witnesses again. And they didn’t consider the cases linked but an isolated and strange attack.

 Rosa worked near by, in laundry place that worked all night. She had a bag filled with dirty clothes the night she was killed. The killer had used a gun with a silencer and many people linked her death to gang violence or some sort of vengeance killing. Her children had to bury their mother without a single shadow of understanding above her case. No one knew anything, again.

 That month, another two women were killed by the same man. One was choked with her own necklace and the other one was run over by a car at least twice. The scenes were always disgusting and it was difficult for every policeman to process those cases, as they hated to get their hands to close to such horrifying situations. The coroners were in charge of everything and they were the ones telling the people what had happened and why. Yet, they were still such random acts of violence that no one dared to link one thing to the other.

 As for the killer, he stopped altogether for several months. He was an unstable person that was obvious. But he was and amazing actor too. Not that it was his job, but he could anyone believe whatever he wanted them to believe. Most people loved to think they lived in a perfect world, filled with magic and love ant only beautiful things. And he benefited from that, from ignorance and their willingness to simply ignore that evil was out there, walking the streets.

 He had killed people for a long time now and kept a list of how many he had killed. It was very uncommon, but he knew that one day he would be the one to go to the police and tell them he had done all of those murders, all of those noted in that small notebook. He had dates and sometimes even names. He knew that there would come a time when he wouldn’t be able to do it as he did it now so he had plans to surrender himself.

 In his mind, he would win in that case. He already had won in any case, because no one knew who he was or that he was the same attacker of all those women. He had a clear advantage over anyone that might investigate a little bit too much. He also thought that a very good detective would actually see clues all over the place. But this was reality and there were no Sherlock Holmes’ roaming the streets solving crimes.

 So he stopped for a few months but began again some time in the winter. To him, it was fun to do it in different places, different seasons and to different kind of people. He had even killed a couple of men but it didn’t feel exactly the same. He preferred women although the urge might come he would like to overcome someone as strong as him and that could prove to be interesting.

 His strength and with were his weapons, his most important ones. It didn’t matter what he used to actually killed somehow. Murder weapons could be anything in the world. But his head, his brain, was a machine that planned everything to perfection and that was the real weapon to be protected against. And no one knew it existed.

 He always read in the papers, the rare times his crimes made it there, that killers always had issues with their parents and had problems during sexual intercourse. The truth was he had always had the best relationship with his parents. He had always loved them and they had loved them back. He had the best education and a happy childhood filled with almost everything a child would love to have, including the unconditional love only two really good parents could give.

 As for the sex thing, he never had intercourse with his victims. That could prove too obvious to link all crimes, more over if he had an accident and left his DNA inside the women. No, he wasn’t that stupid so when he needed to have sexual interaction with someone, he would call a friend or hire a call girl. And he treated them right, always. He wasn’t too rough or violent; he was just like any other man. Except he was a murderer.

 Sometimes, he loved to imagine them discovering who he was. He was thrilled by that, the moment someone would notice something like a blood stained shirt or something similar, not that he would be that careless. But he always had fun picturing those ridiculous scenes, created out of movie scenes that always portrayed people’s ingenuity to perfection. But no one ever asked him anything; no woman ever said a word to him before or after sex. Nothing.

 That winter, he killed at least five women. One of them was killed in the middle of a road, so she was found several months later, when the snow began to disappear. Of course, every town and family was destroyed but he was never there to see or hear anything about it. He tried to avoid that because he was simply not interested in the result of what he did. Maybe that was the only thing that made him a little obvious, at least in his personal concept.

 He would love to get away as soon as possible and analyze his urges in order to know if he wanted to do it again or if he went back to his place, to his normal life with a job and a pet and friends. That man was a monster, no doubt. But he was also a neighbor, a coworker, the man you see walking down the street with a cup of coffee, rushing to the subway or smiling at something funny.


 Killers are people, people that have been deformed by what’s inside of them which can have several forms and shapes and interpretations. And this particular beast was one no one ever saw because they didn’t want to. They had refused to believe someone like them could be capable of what he was capable. And he like that.

lunes, 1 de febrero de 2016

Hidden

   As the doors of the club opened, Hosni stumbled out flanked by two other guys, not one looking as lost as he was. He had to lean against a wall next to the club and just wait there. The two guys that had come out with him did not ask him if he was ok or if he wants some kind of help. Actually, they only looked at him glaringly and started talking on their phones almost immediately. His head felt very dizzy, he felt it turn and turn and not stopping but his body had no reaction further than that. He wasn’t going to vomit, so he just stayed there, looking wasted.

 The guys finally asked him if he was going with them. Hosni shook his head. He didn’t feel up to any task right now and just wanted to get home as soon as possible. As the guys left, he put his hands on the pockets of his jacket and checked everything that needed to be there was indeed there: the wallet, home keys, his socks and a candy. He even opened up the wallet to see how much money he had and realized he was obliged to walk back home, as he hadn’t enough money for a bus or the subway. And even if he had, he wasn’t in the best state to know where to walk to take any of those transportation options.

 So he started walking, at seven in the morning on a Sunday, through a neighborhood that he knew well as he had identified it as a go-to place since he had arrived in town five years ago. He remembered his excitement when seeing the order and the cleanliness and the coldness of people. It was very different from his home country, in both good and bad ways. The nice thing here is that his parents became a bit less religious and were not as tough with rules as hey had been before. The proof was that he was there, stumbling around corners at that time of day.

 Then he realized he hadn’t felt his cellphone in his jacket. He stopped right in front of a disco and people smoking outside watched as he furiously looked all over himself for the cellphone, only to find it in pocket close to the knee. He was wearing the cargo pants that his dad had felt would make a great worker, being able to carry all sorts of things everywhere. Even as he had studied to be a psychologist, his parents were still looking forward for Hosni to come to the family business, which was fixing all sorts of things, like a plumber.

 The walk was resumed, with Hosni checking out a map on the phone and rectifying his route. The small scare of not finding his cellphone had helped him being a little less wasted, he could see things little bit clearer. Yet, he wasn’t walking faster at all. He thought it would have been funny to go back to the club and make the owner or some guy turn on the lights to look for the cellphone. But then he remembered that couldn’t have been possible because electronic devices were not allowed in. He laughed stupidly, alone.

 After stumbling around for around thirty minutes, he finally got home safe and sound. It took him a while to open the main door of the building and he helped himself by holding the cellphone towards the door when opening the door of the apartment, in order not to wake up his family. He was very silent and when he got into his room he took every single piece of clothe of and just entered the cold bed stark naked, falling fast asleep in a matter of seconds.

 The following morning, the voice of his mother woke him up. She wasn’t calling for him but he could hear her in the kitchen, talking to his sister and father. They were probably having breakfast. He could smell the eggs and his stomach practically belched at the presence of the aroma. He would have wanted to eat but, again, his head was spinning. He was not wasted anymore, sleeping had taken care of most of the damage, but his head hurt and he just tried to fall asleep again but couldn’t.

 Besides, as he closed his eyes, he remembered various scenes from the previous night including many that he thought were not real. So he stayed with his eyes wide open looking at the ceiling, deciding which memories were real and which ones were fake. He knew he had a lot of beer and also some drugs, which weren’t allowed in the club but people still had them inside, when employees weren’t around and that was pretty often. The scent of the eggs felt stronger, so he got up.

 His family celebrated that he joined them and he was served a plate. Then, minutes later, he had to unfold the lie that he had been preparing since the day before. He said he had been in a friend’s house, drinking and having a small party with some of his friends that had recently arrived from his home country. All his parents could ask was what news they brought from home and how they were adapting to the city. They didn’t really care for anything else. It was his sister that asked at what time he had arrived and he had planned to lie about that too: he said he arrived around four in the morning, after helping a couple of his friends get home.

 The truth was he had arrived much later than that, even remembering seeing a bit of sunlight as he entered the building. He wasn’t asked much else, and he was thankful because remembering every single lie that he had planned before that night was difficult and made his head hurt even more. He just ate and enjoyed a time with his family and then went back to his room and tried to sleep some more but couldn’t. Again, he stared at the ceiling and just wandered about every single aspect of last night and how everyone had no idea of his real night.

 Later that Sunday, he took something for his headache and by night he was feeling better. He helped his dad around at the hardware store the family owned, as it opened every day, and just tried not to think about that night anymore. Now that he was better, he felt guilty and kind of scared that someone would be able to really now what he had been doing that night and so many other nights, because that one had not certainly being the only night he had gone out in order to be closer to what he thought was being his own real self.

 Since arriving to the city, he had been going out to places his parents had no idea he went and the thought of them knowing was enough to make the headache come back. He was afraid of the response, not only from his father but from his mother too. Even his sister’s response would be very hard to take in. He loved his family and wouldn’t want them to disappoint them or make them feel like he had betrayed them. But the fact was that he couldn’t tell any of them the truth. Because he knew how they would respond and he wasn’t ready for that yet.

 As if his thoughts had been heard in heaven, his father rolled out his prayer mat and felt in one very specific part of the store. Hosni did the same, just next to his father and prayed for a while with him. The amount of guilt that was piling up in his mind was too great and he seriously thought that his mind would explode one day. But it didn’t, because he was much stronger than he realized. After all, he had kept them out of the truth for many years and was ready to do it for many more.

 A couple of friends told him to be real, to live a more honest life and to lift that weight from his shoulders. But they didn’t understand how his family worked, how his religion and traditions really set a standard in which he didn’t fit in at all. Sometimes he had to go to his room when his parents had discussions over news in the TV that were “immoral” to them. He just couldn’t bear to hear them argue over something he felt they didn’t understand. He was just trapped between the life he had while a kid and the life he had now, after being able to go to college and have a real education.

 So, as always, for the following week, he was the Hosni everyone knew. He worked in the store and then he applied for jobs, some very far away, trying to get into the work world and into his profession, which he actually loved. He was charming with people all around him and loving with his parents and friends. He was just a young man full of dreams as anyone else, ready to take on life and just try to get the best out of it. He really wanted to be happy and thought that lying was part of that idea. It was unavoidable and he didn’t really mind.


 H was back in the club the following Saturday night. He had bought a year pass many months before so they knew him well. They gave him a token for a complimentary beverage and then he moved on the locker area, where he proceeded to strip down and only keep on his sneakers and his underwear. Then, he crossed a curtain to the bar where he drank vodka straight. Five minutes afterwards, Hosni was walking downstairs, to the dark room below, where his dreams did not live and he could be as close as he thought he could to the person he thought he was.