martes, 26 de abril de 2016


   The water felt really nice, wrapping his body in a very warm and soft cocoon as he went from one side to the other of the pool. Jim had always put aside a couple of hours of his schedule to swim because he enjoyed it a it relaxed him. He didn’t like to have massages or go to the sauna or things like that. Only the water was good enough for him. If he was visiting a place by the sea, the first thing he did was checking out the beach and swimming a bit. He preferred swimming pools, because of the lack of sand; he didn’t mind seawater from time to time. He found it to be a little more challenging but fun too.

 Jim had learned to swim from a very young age and had developed a very healthy relationship with water. Whereas many kids his age were scared of water, he had always loved it. He never forgot to ask if a party in some friend’s house involved a swimming pool and he made sure his mom always double-checked. Only once he went to a party with a pool and had to sit b the side and se everyone have fun and not him. So from then on he was always prepared.

 As a man who worked in the stock exchange, many people thought he would always go to the gym or do more intense exercising. But he only loved swimming and that’s how he maintained a nice body and a healthy lifestyle. He ate well. No diets or anything but just very balanced and swam every single day without fail.

 One day, his daily routine was stopped by a car crash. He always drove the same route to get to the gym to swim and it made him insane that the traffic was so heavy that he didn’t move art all for thirty minutes. Eventually, he arrived late to the gym but used the two hours anyway, without really thinking about how that changed his whole schedule. As he did his exercise at night, right after work, it meant that he would have dinner two hours later and that he would check his emails later too and sleep less than normal.

 But he didn’t care or maybe he didn’t noticed. He got to the gym and used the pool and when he was out, he was surprised to see the place was deserted. Only a couple of cars were left with his in the parking lot and when he got home it was almost midnight. He had some salad that he always bought premade, with lots of vegetables and stuff. It was a bad call because the aching muscles because of he swimming got combined with an aching stomach that found hard to digest some veggies at that time of day, with no energy left.

 He checked his emails like at two in the morning and there were many. He only got to reading about ten and answering even less than that. He was tired and he fell asleep in his couch.

 The next day, he was very late for work. He showered for only a couple of minutes; instead of the ten minutes he normally took for that. He also put on clothes that didn’t really look that good, which was strange because he had always been the kind of guy to pay attention to detail. But he was so tired he could barely see what he was putting on his body. The worst part was when he remembered, once at work, that it was a day filled with meetings with many people from different companies. The good thing was that the meeting took place at work but he wasn’t prepared at all for them.

 His coworker Julia had to step in quite often to correct number he was saying or to clarify things that were confusing because of the yawning. Every single group of every company could see that Jim was not in his best shape and moment. He hadn’t really shaved and he had quite a shadow, which made him look careless. His clothing, including two socks of different color and a pair of shoes that didn’t match anything, did not help his case either.

 Yet, he attended to the meetings all morning until lunchtime. Normally, he used to go to a very nice vegetarian restaurant that was close by. They had a really great variety of food for people that didn’t ate red meat or any kind of meat. But Jim was so tired that, when he went to his office to grab his jacket, he fell asleep on the desk and was only woken up by Julia, two hours later, telling him she had to attend to the first meeting of the afternoon.

 The rest of the day was even worse for him. He couldn’t really get the numbers and the names rights, he confused one company with the other and yawned almost with everything he said. He eyes looked terrible and so id his hair and everyone could see it. The thing was, most of the people in the meetings knew him, because they did exactly that once a month and had always being so prepared and charming and on point. Now, he was just a very horrible train wreck.

 When time came to go, Julia advised him he shouldn’t take the car back home, advising him to better grab a taxi or something like that. But he just nodded and ignored that comment because he had to go a swim, like he always did. So he went to his car, put on some loud music to really wake him up and drove all the way to the gym closing his eyes in every red traffic light and singing quite loudly when he felt he was about to go to sleep.

 Because of that reckless idea, he hit another car in the back and had to give all his insurance information and was late for the gym, again. He had lost time and money again and he was just exhausted. But he kept pushing himself for some reason.

 In the pool, he was able to swim nicely for the first ten minutes or so. But then something happened and the lifesaver in there had to get him out of the pull and give him mouth to mouth. When he woke up, they had called an ambulance and the paramedics were in the locker room checking him for water in the lungs and such things. He assured him he was fine but they insisted on taking him to the hospital to run further tests. He said no once, twice, three times and then grabbed his things and went to his car

 Jim felt frustrated because he hadn’t been able to swim at all. He felt weak now and something had changed in his life and he didn’t like it at all. It was like giving up on the one thing that made him stable. So he just hopped in the car and drove as carefully as he could and thanked the day for being a Friday. He would sleep until late and would still have time to do all the things that he could normally do on a Saturday. Besides, he was arriving home early.

He made himself a cheese sandwich and just watched some TV before going to bed. He fell asleep very quickly and, the next day, was able to wake up really early and really catch up with his schedule. He did everything by the book and was happy that the day was a very good one for him. The weekends had always felt like the worst time wasters ever but now it seemed he had discovered a way to make them have a meaning.

 That was until he collapsed in a large sports store where he was checking out bathing suits and earplugs. Then everything got like darker and he just fainted. Paramedics came soon and, this time, he didn’t woke up until they were in the hospital. They explained him that he did have water in his lungs but that part wasn’t really the worst one. They also told him he suffered from a rare condition caused by stress where people eventually collapsed because of all the stress they put on their bodies.

 He argued with them, saying he didn’t really do that much exercise and that he loved his work and so on. But the head doctor told him all of that wasn’t important at all. The point was that if he kept living the way he did, he was going to kill himself from exhaustion. He had to make some radical changes to his life and he had to make those changes soon because his body was just done with his lifestyle.

 Jim spent an entire week in the hospital, as they ran some tests. He felt useless in that bed and wanted to run out of there and swim some more and then do his work. He wanted his life back. But then the words of his doctor sunk in: his body was done with who he was and now he had to change every single piece of that.

lunes, 25 de abril de 2016

El hogar

   Martha tenía una voz muy suave y siempre una sonrisa en su rostro. La conocía muy bien, desde que había podido obtener los puntos suficientes para obtener la tarjeta diamante. Luis no entendía porqué le llamaban así, seguro para que se oyera mejor o diera un cierto prestigio al portador. La tarjeta como tal era negra y con solo un toque en una consola al lado de la puerta, los paneles de vidrio se apartaban para dejarlo entrar al que consideraba uno de sus hogares.

 Esta vez acababa de llegar exhausto de un viaje de más de diez horas y sabía muy bien lo que necesita. Se dirigió directamente a la zona de baño y entró a recinto muy parecido al de los gimnasios que solía visitar en los hoteles en los que se quedaba. Todo era de madera y de metal. Daba una sensación del lujo solo estar de pie en ese pequeño salón. Había una banca en el centro y a los lados varios lavamanos. Luis siguió a un cuarto contiguo donde se quitó la ropa, se envolvió con una toalla que le habían ofrecido a la entrada y guardó todo en un casillero que se cerraba también con su tarjeta. La llevó en la mano hasta la ducha y al dejó en un recipiente especial.

 Se tomó varios minutos duchándose, sintiendo el agua rodar por su cuerpo y usando varios de los productos que había dentro. Casi ninguno parecía haber sido usado. Al salir, olía a una mezcla entre sándalo, sandía y algún tipo de madera. Se secó frente a un espejo, aprovechando que nadie podía verlo pues una puerta bloqueaba la mirada de cualquier intruso.

 Se miró el cuerpo desnudo y descubrió que, a pesar de haber comido bastante en los últimos días a razón de sus varias citas de negocios, no había subido casi nada de peso y los resultados que había conseguido haciendo ejercicio diario seguían allí. Ver como se empezaban a perfilar los músculos abdominales le sacó una sonrisa que le duró todo el día.

Después de cambiarse, se dirigió a la zona de comidas donde lo trataron como a un rey. En este espacio también estaba solo, así que el mesero aprovechó para hacerle recomendaciones y darle degustaciones de algunos platillos que tenían preparados como entradas para los miembros diamante, como Luis.

 Había muchos mariscos y pescado y verduras al vapor y hechas de muchas otras maneras. Todo sabía delicioso. Y después de comer un estofado sabroso, el mesero le dio a probar pedacitos de todos los postres. Satisfecho, le agradeció al mesero y al mismo chef por la atención y les aseguró que en ningún lado había comido tan bien como en el aeropuerto. El chef le dijo que su esposa se enojaría al oír eso pero Luis no contestó nada. O mejor, fingió no haber oído nada.

 Antes de ese comentario, había pensado en descansar un rato en una de las camas que ofrecían en el segundo nivel. Pero al pensar en los postres y toda la comida, no tuvo más remedio en su mente que ir directo al espacio para ejercicio, donde estuvo casi todo el tiempo hasta que su vuelo de conexión empezó el abordaje. Apenas tuvo tiempo de una ducha rápida y de una última sonrisa de Martha.

 En el avión, descansó casi todo el tiempo y solo comió las opciones más ligeras como ensaladas y pescado. Rehusó los postres y subió el tono de la voz cuando la auxiliar de vuelo le guiñó el ojo, y le insistió para que probara unas trufas que eran de las mejores en el mundo. La mujer se ofendió mucho y no volvió a atenderlo por el resto del vuelo.

 Al cabo de seis horas, Luis por fin llegó a su destino y su humor estaba peor que nunca. Se enojó con el personal de la aerolínea porque sus maletas no salieron primero y luego con el conductor del taxi que debía llevarlo a casa porque no tenía agua mineral dentro del vehículo. No habló en todo el recorrido. Luis no quería darse cuenta que volver a casa le ponía de ese animo.

Todavía estaba enojado cuando se bajó del taxi. No recibió el cambio ni dejó que lo ayudara el hombre con la maleta. Tan solo caminó apesadumbrado hasta la puerta de su casa y timbró. No tenía las llaves porque no le gusta cargar ese recordatorio para todos lados. El primer sonido que escuchó el de unos pasos y luego los ladridos del perro. Oía ruido, cada vez más ruido, pero nadie venía a abrir. Timbró una y dos veces más hasta que la rabia le hizo casi pegarse al timbre.

 Cuando se abrió la puerta estaba allí su esposa. Le sonría a pesar del escandalo que había armado con el timbre. Le dio un beso en la mejilla, que él hubiese querido evitar, y parecía más concentrada en alejar al perro de la puerta que en su esposo. El solo dijo las palabras mágicas: “Estoy muy cansado” y subió a su cuarto a descansar. Subió ágilmente la maleta por las escaleras, pero antes de llegar al umbral de la puerta de su habitación, se le cruzó un niño de unos doce años.

 Empezó a hablar muy deprisa, una palabra tras otra y otra y otra. Luis siguió caminando a su cuarto y el niño lo siguió, totalmente ignorando el hecho evidente: a su padre no le interesaba en lo más mínimo todo eso que estaba diciendo. Es más: su padre no sabía ni de lo que le estaba hablando. Solo busco el rincón de siempre detrás de la puerta del clóset para dejar la maleta y sacó su cepillo de dientes. Mientras se limpiaba la boca su hijo seguía hablando y él solo asentía. Nunca le había gustado ese niño.

 Al rato el niño se retiró. La esposa de Luis lo había llamado. Luis se acostó a dormir y casi no descansó. Su cama era dura y su mujer había cambiado las sabanas. Las que había eran correosas, de mala calidad. Su sueño fue malo pues se despertó varias veces por el ruido y por las pesadillas que volvían cada vez que estaba en esa casa.

 El día siguiente, su día libre, lo utilizó para comprar algo de ropa. Su mujer se encargaba de tener siempre en casa todo lo demás que pudiese necesitar, como crema de afeitar y esas cosas que no podían faltar nunca en su maleta. Trató de evitar pasar un rato de calidad con sus familia pero en la noche tuvo que soportar una película que no entendió y más conversaciones cruzadas de su hijo y esposa y luego de su suegra y suegro que los sorprendieron con una visita.

 El día después de ese era domingo. Aprovecharon el clima para comer fuera de la casa. Se encontraron a varios amigos en el lugar y tuvieron que hablar con ellos y contar varias anécdotas pasadas. A Luis todo eso simplemente no le iba, para nada. A él no le interesaba si uno se había caído y tenía muletas o si a la otra se le habían muerto sus padres. A él eso le daba lo mismo. Solo quería estar en paz y algún lugar donde no hubiese tanto ruido y cosas sin sentido.

 Por eso al día siguiente, a primera hora, ya tenía lista su maleta con la ropa nueva, zapatos nuevos y algunos indispensables reemplazados.  No se despidió de su esposa pues ella dormía y simplemente no pensó en hacerlo. Sin embargo, su hijo estaba en la planta baja desayunando frente al televisor. Tenía un bol lleno de cereal con leche y miraba dibujos animados.

La imagen le dio curiosidad a Luis. No entendía muy bien como lo sabía, pero tenía la sensación de que eso no podía ser normal. Al fin y al cabo eran las cinco de la mañana de un lunes. Su servicio al aeropuerto estaba por llegar. Miró el reloj un par de veces hasta que se animó a acercarse a la sala de estar y ponerse de pie junto al sofá. Estuvo allí unos minutos hasta que su celular vibró y tuvo que irse.

 Nunca supo si su hijo se había dado cuenta de que él había estado allí, observándolo. Se lo preguntó de camino al aeropuerto pero el pensamiento desapareció de su mente apenas llegó a la fila de clase ejecutiva  y lo recibieron como si fuera miembro de la realeza. En el vuelo estuvo contento, riendo con las auxiliares y compartiendo con ellas sus opiniones del menú que habían servido el Año Nuevo pasado.

 Cuando aterrizó, volvió al salón VIP. Allí sacó su tarjeta diamante y le sonrió, como siempre, a la adorable Martha. Estaba de nuevo en casa.

domingo, 24 de abril de 2016

Turning point

   He walked towards the window and noticed the void was only a few centimeters from his feet. He saw the city, its lights and many smaller figures moving from one side to the other. They could be seen because of the traffic lights and the cars. He imagined, or rather, he asked himself, if maybe there was someone in that entire city that could understand how he felt or what his life was like. But the answer was probably a negative one. He was alone and he had to learn to embrace that or suffer for the rest of his life.

 In his hand, he had the syringe ready to be used. He pressed his hand around it but, somehow, he couldn’t bring himself to do what he always did: inject the client with it so he would sleep longer and then have all the time in the world to rob him of every penny he had. After all, it wasn’t all about two coins. It was about a lot of money that couldn’t be traced once he had done what he knew best. But he just couldn’t do it.

 He was completely naked in front of that window, with a powerful drug in his hand and just couldn’t be the person he had been for so long. Suddenly a couple of tears escaped his eyes and then he knew what happened was really bad. He never cried and it was obvious he wasn’t crying for the guy that was sleeping in he bed. That man had it all and couldn’t complain about a single thing in his life. He cried because if he couldn’t do what he always did, he was done.

-       What’s up cutie?

 A tremor traveled all along his spine. The man on the bed was no longer sleeping.

-       I’m good. I wanted to feel the cold a bit.
-       Ok. Are you staying?
-       Whatever you want.
-       Come here.

 So he had to go back to bed, dropping the syringe in the dark and hoping he would be able to find it afterwards. It would be a disaster for him if someone else saw it and started asking questions.

 In bed, he had to wait until the client fell asleep again but apparently that wasn’t the mood he was in. The moment he got into bed, it seemed the guy had developed a new set of hands. And the younger man didn’t enjoy it one bit. He wanted to pick up his things and leave as soon as possible. But the only way to let the guy do. So he did.

 After thirty minutes or so, the man was tired again and felt asleep right away. The boy got out of bed, went to the bathroom to clean himself and to clean his face too and he discovered that he hated the person that looked at him from the mirror. There had been a separation between the version of him that did whatever was necessary to survive and the him that just wanted to be left alone in order to live in peace. They had lived in peace for long but now it seemed that conflict was coming back to his head.

 He got out of the bathroom and looked for the syringe with the light of his cellphone. It had fallen under the bed. He removed the needle and put it all in an internal pocket of his jacket. He put on his clothes in silence and got out as soon as possible, not before grabbing a couple of bills from the guy’s wallet. The fact that he wasn’t going to do the same thing to him that he did to all others, didn’t meant he didn’t need any money.

 Once outside the hotel, he walked to the nearest metro station and wait on the platform for ten minutes until one of the late trains arrived. There were many people inside for such a late hour but mainly drunks, prostitutes, junkies and many other beautiful flowers of the night. He sat down near the door and realized he was very tired and just wanted to rest. Even his awful bed would be perfect, even in that awful shared apartment in which the other guys living there were more like pigs than men.

 He reflected on his life, thinking he really hated must about it. He would have wanted a nice place with a big bed and a nice mattress. He would have wanted to live alone and away from idiots, who made him have headaches every single day. He would have wanted to just live a private life away from any eyes that would want to ruin that, that would want to judge him for everything he had done.

 But that wasn’t possible. He was poor, even after having stolen so much money. Because there was always a bigger fish and that bigger fish demanded a piece of the earnings or it would do a lot of damage just because. And he had to pay the rent for that hellhole, he had to eat and pay for his metro card. Like any other human being, except he robbed men who were “defenseless”. He didn’t thought of it like that but, whatever.

 Once he got home, he locked the door, turn off the lights and put on some cotton on his ears in order not to hear anything from the outside. He wanted a moment to himself and that wasn’t going to happen if he heard the stupidities of the world outside of him. So he fell asleep soon and he slept for several hours, until he felt he had had enough of his bed. His body felt hurt somehow and then he remembered clients could be assholes so he didn’t give it a second thought.

 Before he could cross any of the idiots that lived with him, he put on some clothes and ran for the door. He bought breakfast with money from an earlier job and tried to eat as slow as he could, in order to enjoy the meal and also to make time go slower. Because if he went fast, night would come again and he didn’t wanted it to come because he was part of it and he had responsibilities there which he didn’t want to fulfill at all.

 He ate bacon, eggs, bread, ham and a cup of tea. It was much more than what he normally ate. Sometimes he would just have a granola bar or something like that. And other days, very bad days, he would stay in his bedroom because there was no money to eat and then he would have to deal with all the other guys shit, They would ask him for money or for drugs or whatever and he was sick to have to do that, dealing with them.

 It was a possibility to send them all to hell, but he really couldn’t do it because he knew what he was like when he lost control. He knew that if he started yelling or something, he couldn’t be stopped. And many times it was not only about what could come out of his mouth but also what he could do to others and himself, physically. He was a very violent man when he wanted to and that’s why he wanted to avoid people in general. They only pissed him off and that wasn’t good.

 After breakfast, he decided to go to a mall and just try to have a normal day, without so many worries. So he grabbed one of the bills he had stolen from his client the night before and promised himself to buy something with that. Maybe a t-shirt or at least an ice cream to enjoy the day. But after looking so many pieces of clothing and so much food, he felt more ill than ever. Somehow, he was worse than he thought.

 He found himself thinking about the man that he wasn’t able to rob and also about all the other that he had indeed robbed. And tried to make sense of all of that. He realized he had no idea how everything had gotten to that point, how it was that a young guy like him had to do such things to keep living. He knew the world didn’t give a shit about him but there had to be more to it than just that.

 Then, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned instantly, scared as he had being thinking and not paying attention to the people around him. For a minute, he thought it was a cop or a security officer. But it was just Nathan, the guy that charged him for what he did. He knew Nathan had come for more money but he had none. And he was done accepting that deal, because there was nothing he could take away from him anymore. No secrets, no revelations to make to anyone.

 His life was on a turning point but he had no idea if it was for the best or the worst.