Usually, Norma ate pizza on Friday nights. But it wasn’t the norm that she ate it in a car, as she was doing now, next to her friend Beatrice. Bea had convinced her to do some spying, as she thought her boyfriend was actually not in a “football party” with his buds, but with another women. She was sure of it and had been nagging Norma about it for at least two weeks. So she finally came up with the idea of following him all around town if it was necessary in order to know what was the truth. Norma had only convinced her to take a tomato and cheese pizza with them and at least let her hear some music from time to time. She loved Bea and would never leave her alone but Friday nights were sacred, no matter if it was pizza in bed or partying till dawn.
Anyway, they parked outside his house and followed him once he got out of there. He took the bus a few blocks away from his home and then they had to follow the bus, which was the most annoying thing ever as it had stops every two blocks and apparently the route was very long. Bea just kept saying she didn’t know any friends of her boyfriend that lived around there, but Norma didn’t really pay attention. She just enjoyed her pizza and the fact that she had found a really good radio station, with every song being amazing. When the boyfriend got off the bus, they followed him for four blocks until he entered a building and there was no way to seeing him for some time. Bea decided to call him right then.
Norma, bored out of her mind, look around the neighborhood. It wasn’t the nicest place on Earth but it wasn’t too bad to be honest. There were some people walking around, mainly couples, possibly walking to the subway or the bus stop in order to get downtown, where most of the clubs and party places where. Norma didn’t really like to go to clubs unless she was feeling really depressed or something. Otherwise, it was too loud and too “happy” for her. Then, she saw a man sitting on a bench, a few meters behind them, talking to himself pointing at things that weren’t there and looking very worried about something. The guy was actually rather young and not ugly at all.
Bea scared Norma with her elbow, trying to get her attention. Her boyfriend had told her he was at his friend’s house and that the game was about to start. She was holding her cellphone very tightly and asked Norma to look for games that were happening that night. She needed to know if that part was a lie or not. Norma complied but, once in a while, she looked outside to the man talking to himself. After not finding anything about a game, she told Bea she was thirsty because of all the slices of pizza she had eaten so she needed to get to a supermarket or something. Bea looked at her with annoyance but Norma told her she had seen a store a few blocks back so she could go in a second.
After stepping out of the car, Norma felt the night was warm and just perfect. Summer wasn’t in yet but it could be felt in the air. She walked slowly, having no urgency to get back to the car. She passed by the man talking to himself and stopped right there for a moment, hoping to hear what he was talking about but it wasn’t very clear. He said something about an animal, some kind of farm animal, and then he switched to bombs and nuclear warfare or something like that. Then, the man kind of jumped in his seat and turned around, looking at her. He kept moving his head and hands but didn’t say a word as he checked her out. Norma just turned around and walked a bit faster towards the store, only thinking about the beautiful chestnut colored eyes that crazy guy had.
The store was very empty and only a young Asian woman was there as the cashier. She was reading a magazine and the TV was turned on somewhere in he store. Norma walked around slowly, as she didn’t want to go back so soon. Bea could really get annoying with all of her boyfriend stud and Norma had no opinion about it all. So what if he was cheating on her? It wouldn’t be the first time a guy does that to a woman. And besides, they had just being together for six months. It was better to find out now that in two years or something. Norma was just a good friend but sometimes being that good was a very demanding job.
She kept walking through the aisles until she remembered why she had come in for: something to drink. So she grabbed a bottle of ice tea and also some gum, hard candy and a women’s magazine if the night turned to be one of those long evenings with her best friend. When she was around the ice-cream freezer, the door of the store opened but she didn’t turned around to see who it was. However, the cashier was apparently not very pleased to see that person come in because she was telling him to leave and to get lost and many other things. He had a bit of a stutter, trying to respond to the woman, and Norma realized who it was: the guy from the bench, the one of the chestnut eyes.
She walked up to the cashier and asked her to let him in, as she wanted to help him by buying him something to eat. The cashier looked at her as if she had become insane in front of her eyes but finally complied. Norma bought the man one of those microwave noodle soups. She heat it up on the machine behind the cashier and then paid all of her shopping and, with difficulty, she got out and walked up to the crazy guy and gave him the soup. It was incredible to see, as she got her stuff in order, how his eyes had lit up just because of some soup. It was boiling hot but he ate fast and she was surprised to see a smile when he was done. Norma smiled back.
She then tried to get her name but the man wouldn’t say a word. It was hard to know if he couldn’t say anything or if he didn’t wanted to, but anyway, the soup had been a nice gesture and Norma was glad she could do that for someone. She turned around and started walking to Bea’s car but then the guy took her arm, a little too strongly, and started to tell her about nuclear bombs and how the world would end. He was talking so fast, it made her a little bit dizzy and the fact that he was pressing on her forearm with such strength was nothing to be amused by either. Like out of some kind of hypnosis, Norma pulled her arm out of his grip and told him to be nice or she would call the police. Then, as if that had been a code of sorts, he looked at her and begged her not to call the police.
His voice right then was calm and rational. His eyes, hands and body in general had stopped moving awkwardly and he was just staring at Norma. She told him she wouldn’t call them but that he needed to learn not to treat people like that, especially when they have just bought him some soup. He asked her for forgiveness, as most of the time he was not really in control of anything, not his body or his mind or his mouth. He had lost control over himself long ago and now he just drifted around the world, trying to make sense of a life that seemed like a dream. He spoke so eloquently, that it was difficult for Norma not to walk up to him and just look at his face with a bit of regret.
She then asked why was he living on the streets. Again, his face seemed to change in a second but his words kept their sense and she could understand everything he was saying. According to him, he had been a very good student in a physics laboratory not very far from there. He had helped all his teachers in various experiments and had even done some research on his own theories too. But then some guy, some teacher that was supposed to be his mentor and a great mind in the scientific community, he just stole every single idea his student had come up with. And as he was such a brilliant guy, every single one of his theories was proved to be right and it changed a lot in their field.
This kept going for a while until the student accused the teacher to the board of the institute but they wouldn’t hear him. They thought it was one of those young people that are so obsessed with discovering something or being important, that they would invent anything in order to be considered into the scientific community. This had a very bad effect on the student’s mind, as he was already a patient for a number of mental illnesses. He wasn’t well at all and even confessed to Norma that he should have never being there in the first place, but life always has its ways. Suddenly, Norma’s cellphone rang. It was Bea, nothing had happened and she wanted to leave.
Norma promised the guy, who said his name was Stuart, to come back and help him some more, with anything he might need. He told Norma that she had already done enough with the soup and by hearing his story. They shook hands and separated. Norma thought of him all the way to the car and more than night. Bea didn’t ask her where she had been; she just theorized what her perfect boyfriend was doing in his football party. As they drove away from the building, on a way of the fourth floor, it was clearly visible how the boyfriend was there all right, but naked and having sex with his friend. The game was on the screen.