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

jueves, 15 de diciembre de 2016

The president

   In the kitchen, everyone was working at full capacity. There was not a single person standing by, doing nothing. Every single worker was doing something, even if they were just apprentices or the chef himself. All hands were needed for the banquet to go exactly as planned and one of the most important parts of the whole experience was, of course, the food. It wasn’t possible to do a proper banquet without a great menu and the one for that event had been checked at least a hundred times and by a diverse group of people, all with different tastes.

 Of course, the most important person in the whole gala was the president, as he had been the one to organize the event. It wasn’t one of those planned things that took place every single year but an impromptu kind of thing that had arisen from the fact that the president wanted to do a benefit for a cause he thought had not been helped enough in recent years. Public opinion was really divided on the subject but most people admired what he had done and how he had done it. After all, it was very uncommon for a president to stop his work to do something else.

 Some papers were criticizing every single aspect of the event, from the price of the food and the flower arrangements, to the list of guests. Some said it was too big and others too small. Some said he had invited people from the wrong countries and organizations and others praised him exactly for that. It wasn’t new that the press was not in agreement completely; they had always been very divided on the presidency from day one, which had taken place a little more than a year ago, after a very uncommon period of transition.

 Awkward was the better word because the new president had asked the old one to give him an office in the presidential headquarters, as he wanted to check on everything as it happened. Such a thing had never been attempted and a certain distance was thought to be the wisest thing when dealing with such a moment. But from the first moment of him been the president elect of the country, it was very clear he wasn’t going to be like any other president, in the country’s past or in other countries. He was, for lack of a better word, uncommon.

 Very uncommon indeed as he had won in the most unexpected way, when many people had decided it was the best to make a change at the very last minute. Polls had never granted him the presidency and he thought, the morning of the election itself, that he was going to lose for sure but he wanted to go away gracefully so he did something unexpected: he shared the day with people around his city, visiting tourist spots and taking random pictures. Apparently people loved that because in the afternoon, polling stations were filled with voters.

 By the end of the night, he had been declared the winner with over five percent of the vote over the other candidate; a woman everyone had predicted would be the next president. She was the very opposite of him, someone who seemed to have fire in her eyes, always talking with an amount of passion that seemed to much for such a small woman. Millions adored her and, of course, by the big conglomerates that actually controlled the country. She loved to speak about economics and foreign affairs and all such things.

 However, the new president had never really been passionate for anything. To be perfectly honest, he had been chosen out of nowhere by the third most important party in the country. It was predicted that the two most voted parties in the last election would hold the same spots in the new election but that didn’t happen. People were tired of the game between those two parties that, at the end of the day, were exactly the same party if you were to compare their policies on several key elements of people’s lives. They just had slight differences.

 Studies on those elections would last for years, as never had predicted that surge of a third option. And now that third option was organizing an impromptu dinner in honor of a cause many thought wasn’t “attractive” enough. In this day and age, people still thought some subjects were best not spoken out loud, in the open, much less in a fancy dinner table with expensive Champaign and a band playing music from eighty years ago. The president was known by now for his odd choices and that was also reflected on his choice of food.

 The people in the kitchen had elaborated a menu that mixed very high cuisine with foods that everyone loved. The dishes were particularly successful among the special guests of the evening. In other words, the people that were directly affected by the charity they were raising money form. After all, they were all normal people that did not really have experience in fancy dinners and strange food, so the combination of high cuisine experiments with almost fast food, was a success among them and many presidential supporters.

 Of course, the richest people in the event weren’t very thrilled to be eating what were basically hamburgers, hot dogs and fried chicken, in a very old hall that had a long history of elegant banquets to celebrate the riches of the rich, instead of charitable efforts. However, the rich were never shy when it came to donating, as it was the perfect way to pay fewer taxes and to be seen as some kind of savior by the people that were benefitted by that money they didn’t need.

 It was incredible to see how the people, the same that had voted for the president, supported him again on that decision and thought the choices overall were just excellent. Some thought they were funny enough but everyone agreed that it was the necessary shake up that needed to happen in such a stiff political environment. Everyone took things too seriously sometimes and it was nice to see that the president had a sense of humor or at least the capacity to be different. People admired him for that, long before he was a president.

 It was never really clear if he did those things on purpose or if everything was kind of a “happy accident”. Whatever it was, it always seemed to work. It was the same thing when he worked for a large software conglomerate where most of the workers were younger than him and he wasn’t even that old. At first they mistrusted him because they didn’t thought it was possible he would even know about what they did in the company, but after a while he showed everyone how interested and invested he was on the company, surprising them in many ways.

 Of course, he was always nervous. He had even joked that he would love to have a first lady by his side to have someone to hold hands with in the most tense and difficult moments. He even joked he would settle for a first gentleman and some of the journalists laughed out loud that day. He was something very unexpected and was attacked because he wasn’t the same kind of politician everyone had seen once and again for the last hundred years. But that’s exactly why so many people supported him; he was very different from them all.

 Some of his supporters had even organized meetings to help him with some subjects and to get him to talk about things that people felt were important in that moment. And he was gracious enough to hear them, after the meetings he had to attend about the economy or foreign trade or who knows what. He always had time for everyone and he seemed to be happier when talking and sharing with actual people. That’s why some said he was the best president in the world and others said he was a disaster waiting to happen.

 After the gala, he sent the millions won for the charity to the proper people and many were able to find some kind of solace in the fact that he had remembered them as victims. Rumors of a second term were already in the air. But when asked about it, he always laughed loudly and said he would rather end the one he was in first to see if he was successful enough to deserve more time. Of course, three years later, he won by a landslide, another unexpected win.

sábado, 22 de agosto de 2015


   When Nelly woke up that morning, she only wanted to train. She was running a marathon in only two weeks and she needed to be ready to face off against so many other women that were coming into the city to participate. She wanted to be the best and for her city and country to be recognized everywhere in the world. She had begun training only recently but had been a runner for all of her life. She had won several tournaments and contests around the world. She even had a bronze medal from the Olympic games, her proudest achievement. Now, she was a little bit older and she knew she couldn’t be as good as the younger ladies but that didn’t mean she couldn’t be outstanding. She was ready to show the world, one more time, what she was made of.

 But that morning, when she stepped into the field to practice, she overheard two people in the locker room. She was going to leave her things there and put on her running shoes but as soon as she heard people inside she stopped. She had no idea why because normally she would’ve just come in but she didn’t. Instead, she heard everything about a medicine, some sort of shot, which a very well known athlete was taking to stay fit for the marathon. The two people were discussing bringing the medicine from another country and how they would do that. Apparently, the substance was not legal. They also said that the athlete needed to prepare herself for an upcoming anti-doping test.

 Then, Nelly heard movement so she silently walked back to the entrance and just pretended to be arriving. The two men inside the locker room came out and Nelly almost yelled when she saw who they were: a man working for the federation of athletics and her own personal trainer. For a moment, she stopped walking because she felt so overwhelmed but then she kept moving and greeted both men. The one from the federation left shortly after and her trainer told her to hit the locker room to prepare. As she put on her shoes, she thought about how disappointed she felt. She knew her trainer coached other women but not that he used forbidden substances to make them win. She had to do something about it but didn’t know what.

 The training session went as usual. She warmed up first and then practiced by jogging around the stadium several times. Her trainer would correct her several times and would show her on a map the several road features along the way of the marathon. But the truth was that she couldn’t be totally focused on what he was saying or on what she was doing. What she had heard was too serious. After all, an athlete couldn’t know about anti-doping tests because the point was for them to be a surprise and check the real current state of an athlete. They were cheating, probably to make her stay clean until they had to test her and then they could give her whatever substance she was taking.

 When training was over, her coach was willing to take her home but Nelly told him that she was going to meet a friend nearby for lunch. This was true and she couldn’t be happier that it was. Her friend wasn’t part of the sports world but she was a very pragmatic and effective friend who worked for the ministry of culture. Her name was Grace and she was waiting in the restaurant when Nelly arrived. She excused herself but Grace told her she was actually early because of her work. Apparently, everything related to a ballet performance coming from Ukraine had gone great and her presence was not needed anymore. So Nelly sat down and told Grace everything, not even breathing properly to stop. She finished by saying she had never witnessed anything like that.

 Grace told her she had seen a documentary about something like that but that it happened in poor countries, where people needed to win because of the amount of money that moves around in those types of competitions but she wasn’t surprised that it happened there either. She then asked Nelly what she was going to do about it but Nelly just couldn’t answer that question. She was worried because anything that she said would be very bad for her trainer but she felt a responsibility to do something. After all, she had been running for at almost twenty years and she had always been clean. For her, it was awful what some people did to stay on top.

 Her friend told her that the best she could do was to investigate more about the two guys. If they were cheating it couldn’t be the first time so many other people may be in it and some would even be willing to tell the truth. Grace told her that she would investigate with people in the ministry of sports, who had been created some years ago, specifically to deal with all of these issues. She knew a couple of people there and they might be able to tell her more. Nelly thanked her and they then had a very nice lunch, discussing other topics that had nothing to do with sports or culture. They had been best friends since college and they understood each other perfectly, even to the point where they knew what the other would do or say in some contexts.

 Later that evening, Nelly began her investigation online. She found out about small scandals and wrote down some name that would be willing to tell more about what they had seen in the past. She knew that what she was doing was going to put a personal friend, her coach, in the line of fire. She had thought she knew him for all these years but now, she had no idea what to think. But she knew that other athletes, honest like her, didn’t have to put up with cheating of any kind. Training and been ready for any type of sportive event was tough enough and cheating just felt like the worst kind of betrayal.

 The next day, Nelly decided to visit a man called Frank Underwood. Several articles pointed at him after he had allegedly denounced corruption in the federation of athletics. Nelly went directly to his house because meeting in any other place would be too dangerous. The man did not know who she was but when she announced her intentions, he rapidly let her in. He was surprised to know she was an athlete and, for whatever reason, he knew who she was and told her she respected her work immensely.  Nelly told her she suspected her coach and at least one federation man of corruption and leading athletes to forbidden drugs. The man faintly smiled and told her he had had been thrown out of sports altogether of what he had seen inside of the athletics world.

 He told her that he found out how they imported a substance called “tetromizine” into the country. Apparently the procedure was even more difficult to achieve than if they wanted to import marihuana or even alcohol. They would just put it in home appliances like refrigerators and microwaves. Someone in the port would help them get their stash and then a single box would have enough for at least a hundred athletes or more if they knew how to use it. It was, to put it simply, a drug ring and everyone in the federation was involved, from a beginner in the athletic world to the president of the organization. Every point of the pyramid was rotten beyond repair.

 Before leaving, the man told Nelly to have proof before saying anything. He didn’t want her to live through the hell he had lived some years earlier. She took her advised and begun investigating harder, even to the point when she was really letting go of the training for the marathon. Her coach asked her several times what was going on and she always had an answer, namely something related with the female anatomy. But the truth was she was getting closer to what she saw as the truth. Her friend Grace gave her some statistics to work with and the number proved that the athletes had consumed something before some of the events as their blood results were all over the place.

 Then, one other morning of training, she heard them again but this time she came ready. She recorded the whole conversation and decided it was time to act. The marathon was only three days away but she needed to do this now. So Nelly went to the police and then to the federation and formally accused both her coach and the man from the federation, called Marcus Fröm of drug trafficking and influencing official sportive events. There a huge scandal, of course, and many people attacked Nelly because of what she had said. She never talked to her trainer again, mainly because he was sent to jail for ten years. The evidence had been to solid to refute.

 She participated in the marathon and finished fifth, which she considered to be a triumph. She celebrated with Grace and other friends who praised her for her decision to denounce what was wrong with sports. However, only a year after it all broke out, she decided to leave the world of sports. The pressure from all sides was too much to handle and she wanted to have a peaceful rest of her life. So she retired and started enjoying many other parts of her life she had never explored. She still ran though, because she felt it made her free.

miércoles, 29 de julio de 2015

Blood test

 As far as I could remember, I had never had blood taken from me. I had never been sick and, being a man, I had never being pregnant. So the thing was very new for me and scary. It’s kind of silly to be scared of such a silly thing but aren’t we always scared about the things that we don’t even understand? Because I didn’t even know why they wanted me to give my blood after just a routine check-up. The doctor said it was good, once in a while, to do something like a full scan of the body to be sure nothing was off, nothing was out of place. But taking blood from my body seemed very invasive.

 I am the kind of person that takes days to talk to you, even if I have seen you for a year, at work, at school or wherever. I am the kind of person that always tries to be in relationships were the other person wants more love than sex. I’m the kind of person that would never put on a bathing suit in front of someone else or shower in a public place or something like that. I would die first to be honest. So giving away a sample of blood was just as if someone had forced me to give up something that was only mine and it didn’t felt right. Besides that, I had never done it and felt silly because I knew it was something positive to do. After all, he doctor was right: I needed to get to know what was happening inside my body. I had not being in a doctor’s office for five years or more and if he wanted to know what was going on, he was the doctor after all.

 I woke up really early to give my sample. I tried not to think about it until the moment was imminent. So I just woke up, showered, put on some loose clothes and walk out home. The weather was strange: it seemed that it was going to rain but it didn’t, as if the sky was waiting to make a more dramatic storm later in the day. I just thought the weather sometimes behaved like a moody human. I walked to the bus stop and waited there for the bus that would take me to the hospital. It was such a sad thing, to be going to a hospital. I thought tight there that I pity every single person that has to go to a hospital every single day of his or her lives. All that sadness and stress and just negativity…

 I mean, I’m not the most positive guy you’re going to find, not at all, but I do try to be objective and working in the health sector must not be an easy task, maybe if you are the head of a pharmaceutical company or something. When my bus stopped, I walked inside like a zombie. I hadn’t had anything to eat, as asked by the doctor, so I felt a little like walking on air. The bus was filled with people so early in the day so I just stood up by the exit and waited for my stop. As I did so, I noticed that most of the passengers in the bus were women and then another fact of life hit me in the face: women are so under appreciated. Not because they carry life but because they keep it going. All those ladies in the bus were proof of that and I felt bad as a man.

 One of them was talking about the day she was going to have. I couldn’t hear the whole conversation, but I could guess she was a housekeeper. She was telling another woman that she had asked her boss to give her two days off as she was feeling really tired and had many things to do at home. The other women asked her if her husband helped around the house and she answered that he did but that things were still backing up. She hoped to get those two days to run some errands and just be with her children for some more time that week. That was all I heard before I stepped out of the bus, twenty minutes after I had gotten in. I felt bad for her but I thought that at least she had a steady job. Things could always be worse.

 As it was very early, there were no traffic jams on the streets and no overcrowded sidewalks. The few people around were workers of stores or vendors that were installing their posts in strategic places for the morning rush. People were going to need their coffee, their newspapers and their dose of sugar and they were going to given them all to them. I walked past them and then through a couple of blocks where not a single soul was seen. It was the perfect time of the day to shoot a zombie apocalypse scene. I imagined it and smiled for myself. I finally got to the hospital and went straight to the second floor, where I was charged for my blood test. Then I sat down and looked around.

 Besides me, there were only two other people: a teenager with his mom and an elderly couple. The teenager was obviously checking social media and seemed very focused on it. His mom seemed moved her feet and legs without stopping. By her outfit, it was obvious she worked in some office and that she needed to get there as soon as possible, which was curious because wouldn’t you open up your morning to be with your son? Then there was the elderly couple, two lovely older people that were chatting about their pills and if they had them all in the woman’s purse. She pulled them all out and I was surprised to see at least ten little orange bottles in armrest of the chair. They were saying their properties, as no one ever knew the names.

 The teenager was called first and then the couple and when more people were coming in, I finally got inside too. I got into a small cubicle were a nurse checked my arms for the best vein and the she told me to look the other way, as it may look a bit too scary. I did exactly that, as I was not really looking forward to see my blood spilling out of my arm. As she did her job, she told me that the results would be available in two weeks. I wanted to complain but my arm hurt too bad and she told me, after putting a circular sticking plaster where she had put the needle on.

 When the pain passed, I asked her why it took so long to have the results. I told her it was just a routine procedure for my doctor but she told me that all exams were the same and that they checked the blood for every possible disease I could have: hepatitis and several sexual transmitted diseases includes syphilis and HIV. When she said the last part, I got even more scared that before the needle went through my skin. I didn’t ask anything else or said anything at all. She just gave me a sheet with which I could claim the results in two weeks time. Five minutes later, I was already outside walking home. Somehow, I didn’t want to take the bus back. I had too many things in my head and only wanted to vent a little before freaking out once again. 

 As I stopped to buy something to eat, I thout about the reason why I was freaking out. Exactly five months ago I had gone to a party and, strangely for me, I had gotten really drunk. The friends that had invited me there were just laughing their asses off because they had never seen me drunk and because, strangely enough, I was a very funny drunk guy. I told just, funny stories I didn’t even know I had and I talked to people straight away, even going so far as to ask them if they have had sex that day. Bare in my mind the party was attended by, at least, forty people and only knew a couple of them. I drank a lot and, the next day I was surprised to realize that I hadn’t vomited or anything gross like that all night.

 What was weird was that I woke in one of the bedrooms of the apartment were the party was held and I happened to be only wearing my underwear and with someone besides me. Now, I didn’t know if something happened and to this day I have no idea. It was just as if all memories produced after two in the morning had been erased by the computer that was my brain. I only know I grabbed my clothes, put them on and just got the hell out of there. Days later, I spoke with one of my friends that had been in the party and he just said he found me funny when drunk. But he never said anything about me kissing or talking in a “unique way” to someone. So I didn’t mention it and I had forgotten everything about it until the day of the blood test.

 The following two weeks were torture. Every time I had a moment to think about my life, I found myself wondering if I had sex that night of the party and if it had been unprotected. As I didn’t recall anything, and I didn’t really stayed in the room the next day to see if there was a condom wrapper around, I just didn’t know anything. I just knew I was very nervous and jumpy every time someone was looking to talk to me about anything. Days were long sometimes and I just wanted the hospital to call me and tell me they need me to pick up the results earlier but maybe that wouldn’t have been a very happy call.

 Anyway, I waited as patiently as I could and when it was time, I went to the hospital and asked for my results. It was very frustrating that I had to wait several minutes for them and that I had to go through them with a doctor different that the one who had asked for the damn exam. She must have realized what was going on inside my mind because she just said “You’re fine, honey”. I felt like an elephant had ben lifted from my back and I could finally worry about other things, like my life in general and the fact that I suffered from anemia.