miércoles, 6 de marzo de 2019


  The almost empty bottle of alcohol slipped from her fingers and crashed below her, on top of the massive rocks that formed the beach in that part of the port. It wasn’t an area to go an have fun of anything, rather a place for people who loved seafood to go and have a delicious dish of crab, lobster, fish or any other creature from the sea. The small pier on which Cynthia was seating, her legs dangling like she used to do when she was younger, was located in a part closed to the public, far from the restaurants and the bustling ambiance of the now exclusive and upscale area of commerce that was located a few steps away.

 Where she was, she could hear the ocean crashing softly against the rocks and then pull back and then crash the rocks again. She found that beautiful sound to be very soothing, especially at that precise moment of her life when she was feeling cornered by thoughts and things that were happening all around her. She knew the place from one time she had been invited to a party there and now she looked at the pieces of glasses on the rocks, as if they had the answer to all of her problems. And apparently, the answer was to open up the other bottle she kept on her coat and start drinking again, no regrets at all.

 Cynthia had never really been a lover of alcohol but it felt soothing for that moment to do something like that. She wasn’t into drugs or anything like that, having a crippling fear of dying from an overdose, so she would more often than not go to her nearest store and buy a couple of middle-sized bottles of alcohol, which she could feet nicely into her large winter coat. And it was that, the weather during that time of year, that made it all the more perfect. She knew it was the perfect way for her to handle what was going on and she wouldn’t let anyone else decide for her what to do or how to do it.

 As she took a good sip of the clear liquid in the bottle, she paid special attention to a fishing vessel entering the port. She was certain no one could see her there, on the spot she had chosen to be in, but realized it would be very annoying to have someone come and stop her from going on and on with that part of her life. Because that’s what it had become: alcohol had become the perfect gateway “drug” to make her feel a little less, something she really needed each time she was reminded of her past but also her present and the prospects her future held. Everything in life triggered her and made her unable to respond normally to anything.

 The fishing boat passed and Cynthia waved at it, already a bit drunk from the alcohol but also because of the cold. She closed her coat a little bit more, realizing she had chosen an especially cold evening to go out and sit over the ocean. But the truth was that she had never “chosen” such a place or such an activity. It was only the thing she could do without feeling she was doing the wrong thing or acting in an undesirable manner. She wasn’t a mess there, by herself.

  It was also easy to hear the screams and laughter coming from the people in the restaurants, but Cynthia tried hard not to pay attention. One reason was that she didn’t really liked any of the people that visited such places. They were mostly snobbish, the type of folk that don’t even realize people don’t normally have the kind of money to dine in such places every single night. That was exactly what she realized the day she was invited to a party there and soon realized how much of a mistake it had been to attend that event, at that time and in that place. It was all wrong and there was no real way to mend it.

She made everyone feel uncomfortable and the only thing she won out of that experience was the fact that she was very clear on how other people perceived her and what she didn’t really like about all of them. She was one of those people that don’t really mind what you say about them or how you say it, or at least they seem to not care at all. That’s way her appearance in that party was such a disaster, even if other things were feeling as if they had been improving in her life for quite some time. But those awful moments of social awkwardness made everything feel worse and seem worse, and she didn’t really need that.

 When she finished the bottle, she dropped it intentionally over the rocks, applauding loudly when the glass shattered and pieces flew all over the place, to the ocean, over the algae and on the rock. No one appeared after she had clapped. Maybe no one cared or maybe she had a way with the city and its strange places, but her next move was to go back to the mainland and try to exit the area without anyone looking at her. She was successful, after avoiding to look back on her way to the exit. Once there, she walked, cold and shaking but feeling a bit better. The cold wind on her cheeks was apparently doing wonders too.

 She sat at the bus stop and realized she was a bit tipsy. She looked around, and realized her only other companion was a very elderly woman who didn’t even have a reason to be walking around so late in such a remote place. Cynthia looked at her and tried to guess if she was actually younger than she seemed or if she seemed to be into the kind of things that hip people liked doing over there. She didn’t have much choice anyway, as the bus appeared soon and they both entered. Cynthia sat behind the driver and the old lady walked very slowly to a seat by the middle of the bus. Maybe she was buying something she wasn’t supposed to.

When Cynthia got home, she felt really dizzy and also very tired. She dropped on her bed in two seconds after she had arrived and realized, in a moment, that she was drunk and that she hated most of the people with whom she interacted ever. Everyone including doctors, shrinks, supposed friends and family and all other people that always try for you to have the life that they want for you, instead of the want for yourself. She really hated them, with feeling.  

 She then decided to strip for bed and stood in front of the mirror, looking at her almost naked body. Cynthia was not a supermodel but she wasn’t the ugliest woman in the world, she was fine. But she didn’t have much else aside a degree she never used and a lot of debt towards her parents. She was one of those so-called “leeches” that live in their parents’ home for years and never really go. Her fortieth birthday seemed close, even if it wasn’t going to happen for some more years. It was pressing on her, her mind and the body she was looking at.

 It was obvious that she didn’t really feel great about all of that but even so she got herself into a pajama and then into bed. She heard her parents entering the house right when she was about to fall asleep. It was nice she had chosen that precise night to be able to come back without her parents being there and asking something about her life or, much worse, not saying anything but giving her looks and glances, certain attitudes too, that made her realize what she already knew. But how the overcome the fact that she was a non- achiever?

 How was she supposed to overcome the fact that she was just one person, unable to change the world around her? That’s why she needed to drink, why she really needed to have a proper reaction to everything happening around her. She could just be there and take it or end it all in two seconds. Neither of those two options was an actual option, she didn’t have access to any of them. So, she had to endure and keep at it until something happened. But it had a toll on her and maybe that one would be the last straw for her and her consciousness. She knew very well she was not the kind of person to hold for years and years.

 Cynthia often found herself looking up at her ceiling, wondering about all of those people she had met at least once. She wondered about their lives, their success and their stories of greatness and achievements. And she felt so tremendously alone after that. She remembered the times she had borrowed money from her father to pay for a quality education and it had all amounted to nothing. They didn’t really say it but she knew, deep that, that it was the case.

 So every night was a struggle and every new day felt as one more iron ball had been put in a jar representing her life. It got heavier and heavier, never easy to properly carry around.

lunes, 4 de marzo de 2019


   El olor de la menta era bastante potente. Todo el lugar estaba, a falta de mejor palabra, infestado por el potente aroma. En una habitación bastante pequeña y completamente cerrada en la que una camilla central se robaban el protagonismo. Cuando entré, vestía una bata completamente blanca de algodón y tuve que quitármela antes de subirme a la camilla. Por recomendación de la recepcionista, me recosté boca abajo, metiendo la cara en un hueco que tenía la camilla en uno de sus extremos. El dolor de espalda pareció entender que ya casi llegaba su final, pues se intensificó casi al momento de recostarme.

 Por un momento, pensé que tendría que esperar por un largo tiempo. Por lo que decidí levantar la cara un rato, y contemplar todo lo que había mi alrededor. Me gustaron mucho los estantes, hechos de una madera oscura que brillaba como si hubieran acabado de limpiarlos. Estaban llenos de frascos y diversos contenedores con cremas, lociones, perfumes y muchos otros elementos que seguramente eran esenciales al momento del masaje. Había también algunos otros utensilios, hechos de una manera más clara que la de los estantes. Parecían haber sido pensados para ciertas partes del cuerpo como los brazos, las piernas e incluso la cara.

 El aroma de la menta fue lentamente reemplazado por un delicioso aroma cítrico, que empezó a invadir el cuarto al mismo tiempo que la luz cambio de color, de un tono anaranjado a uno más bien azul. Fue en ese momento en el que entró el masajista en la habitación. Automáticamente metí la cabeza en el hueco de la punta de la camilla y lo saludé sin alzar mucho la voz. La verdad es que estaba muy nervioso pues era mi primera vez en un sitio semejante. Estaba allí porque mi espalda me estaba matando y no encontraba ninguna otra opción para curar esa dolencia que me había estado molestando durante varios días.

 Con delicadeza, pude sentir como cubrió la parte posterior de mi cuerpo con una toalla de una suavidad increíble. Además, el material del que estaba hecha la toalla estaba tibio, porque se sentía muy agradable contra mi piel que solía retener bastante bien el frío de la ciudad. Pude oír algunos frascos y la apertura de algunos de los recipientes de cremas y otras cosas. Algún olor me llegó hasta la nariz pero no lo pude identificar del todo. Algunos eran aromas que podía identificar y otros eran completamente nuevos para mi. Era algo que estaba esperando al ir a uno de esos sitios, pues la idea era la de experimentar algo completamente nuevo.

 Entonces escuché de nuevo la voz del masajista y noté que era más grave de lo que había pensado. No podía verle la cara pero seguramente era un tipo bastante fornido o por lo menos grande. Hubiera sorprendido mucho si esa voz hubiese salido de un personaje más bien flacucho o desgarbado. Se mantuvo en la parte de atrás de la camilla y por eso no pude ver ni siquiera sus piernas para hacerme una idea de con quién estaba tratando. Asumí que era algo común.

 Le conté entonces que mi dolor se concentraba en la espalda, desde el coxis hasta la base de la nuca. Me preguntó si tenía otros dolores y le dije que, a veces, cuando caminaba más de la cuenta, los pies podían dolerme bastante. Sólo escuché un sonido de asentimiento y lo siguiente que sentí fueron sus manos, que ya había imaginado como grandes, en mi espalda. El tipo sabía lo que hacía: desde el primer toque sentí que estaba dando justo en el clavo. Al parecer, dar con los nudos y los problemas no era tan difícil para una persona experimentada como él. Seguramente había visto a muchos con los mismos problemas que yo o incluso peores.

 No demoré mucho en relajarme, en dejar que mis piernas se quedaran completamente quietas y que mis puños dejaran de cerrarse a cada rato. Sentí un hormigueo por ciertas zonas del cuerpo, mientras el masajista intensificaba su campaña en mi espalda. Algunos de sus golpes certeros me causaron bastante dolor y creo que él se dio cuenta. Hubiese sido bastante difícil que no se hubiera dado cuenta con los quejidos que pegaba cuando el dolor era mucho más de lo que yo podía resistir. Me preguntaba como lo sentía y en qué partes lo sentía peor o mejor y según eso reajustaba su técnica y comenzaba de nuevo.

 Pronto, pareció encontrar la mejor técnica para lidiar con mi problema. Sus manos iban de arriba abajo y no fue sino hasta que se apartó de la columna vertebral que me di cuenta de lo incómoda que podía ser semejante situación. Puede sonar tonto, pero cuando una de sus manos tocó lo que sólo podríamos llamar un “gordito”, sentí que mi cara se llenaba de sangre y se volvió completamente roja. Creo que se dio cuenta porque no lo hizo de nuevo. Tal vez había sido un error de cálculo o algo por el estilo pero agradecí que no lo volviera hacer, porque ese breve momento me había hecho sentir, de alguna manera, vulnerable.

 Creo que estuvo masajeando mi espalda, de diversas maneras, durante unos treinta minutos. No me avergüenza decir que disfruté cada uno de esos minutos. Es innegable lo agradable que es sentir el tacto de otro ser humano en el cuerpo propio y, contrario a la creencia popular, el tacto no es sólo para iniciar un encuentro sexual. No voy a negar que algunos de sus toques me hicieron imaginar, y en algunos casos recordar momentos de mi pasado, pero en ningún momento sentí que fuera inapropiado o que fuese algo más que un mero intercambio de bienes: un masaje de un profesional por una cantidad que yo consideré razonable.

 Cuando pasó la media hora, me avisó que seguiría con mis piernas. Creo que esa fue la parte más agradable de toda mis visita, pues en ningún momento sentí dolor si no solo placer y una calma bastante poco común en mí. Puedo asegurar que no me había sentido así de cómodo nunca en mi vida. Era como si todos los problemas que tenía y las preocupaciones se hubiesen levantado de mi cuerpo para irse muy lejos, a un lugar del que ojalá nunca volvieran nunca.

 En un momento, me preguntó si quería que continuara en mi parte frontal, o si yo deseaba terminar nuestra sesión en este momento. Creo que me quedé callado durante varios minutos, porque él volvió a preguntar después de un rato. La verdad es que no sabía qué decir. Sí, el masaje había sido increíblemente agradable e incluso ya estaba haciendo notas mentales para volver en un futuro cercano. Pero, en alguna parte de mi cerebro, consideré que un masaje frontal podía terminar en algún malentendido o tal vez en un momento incómodo, tanto para mí como para él. Sin embargo, considerándolo todo, dije que quería seguir.

 Cuando me di la vuelta, cuidando que la toalla no se cayera al suelo, me salieron las palabras “Pero no me puedo demorar” de la boca, casi como si hubiesen escapado sin haber sido procesadas debidamente por mi cerebro. Escuché algo así como una risita, como esa exhalación que hace la gente cuando sonríe al encontrar algo gracioso en las palabras de alguien más. Sin un momento para pensar, me puso una toalla tibia en la cara. Según él, esto ayudaba a una exfoliación suave que relajaría también mi rostro para quedar a la par con el resto del cuerpo. Yo lo agradecí pero no supe si él pudo oirme, mi voz tapada por el algodón de la toalla.

 Dijo entonces que haría un servicio rápido para que pudiera irme lo más pronto posible. Siguió con las piernas y subió hasta la parte superior de los muslos, lo que me puso bastante nervioso. Pero era obvio que tenía experiencia pues se detuvo justo en el momento indicado. Me puso algún tipo de aceite porque el aire empezó a oler como a fiesta tropical con toda las frutas y comidas asociadas. Tuve incluso ganas de reír pero no dije nada porque él empezó masajear mis brazos y entonces sí pude oler claramente el aroma del coco. Masajeó mis brazos con fuerza, como si fueran sendos trozos de masa de pan.

 Lo último fue un potente masaje en los hombros. Creo que nunca nadie me había dado un masaje como ese, con propiedad. Creo que a todo el mundo le han dolido los hombros en algún momento pues es el dolor más común de todos. El olor a coco invadió toda la habitación y para el momento en que me indicó que todo había terminado, sentí la incontrolable necesidad de ir a comprar una bebida grande a base de coco lo más pronto posible. Pensé rápidamente en las cafeterías que había visto de camino al lugar de los masajes y me decidí por una que quedaba justo mitad del recorrido entre ese lugar y mi hogar.

 Cuando estaba por terminar mi bebida de coco, escribía a una amiga que me había recomendado el servicio. Le conté, de manera graciosa, que nunca vi el rostro del hombre que me había atendido. A ella eso le sorprendió pues no era nada común que sucediera. Me dijo que tal vez había sido algo especial para él pero eso a mí me resultó completamente ridículo. Sin embargo, justo antes de ir a la cama, me puse a pensar en él, muchos más de lo que hubiera deseado. Y lo seguí haciendo durante los días siguientes, a intervalos casi regulares.

viernes, 1 de marzo de 2019

Cleaning up

   When he finished cleaning the place up, he lit up a cigarette and decided to take a nice deserved break. He did need to go and throw all that was still stained with blood, but he knew he had time to do it in a moment. After all, the crime was already solved and everyone involved had gotten some kind of closure after such a horrible event. So, he cleaned the murder scene and allowed the owners of the property to sell the house or at least attempt a sale. It was always difficult to pass such a property on to someone else, but it was feasible and people knew they had to try and do it in order to move on and close their wounds.

 Fred was the guy police hired to do the cleaning up. He was very well known for being the first one to offer a top-notch service, never denying a service, no matter how horrible the murder scene was. He was known to have cleaned a whole room splashed with brain and skull fragments after a bunch of people from a suicidal cult had decided to shoot themselves before the police could get them for selling child pornography. He did it all by himself, using many types of liquids and concoctions to properly remove the traces of blood and other body fluids, as well as the foul stench of death that could really linger for a long time.

 He was also known for working by himself. Many people always worried about him not been able to do it in the time they wanted him to do it, but he always did the work in the time they had agreed on and he even noticed construction or design flaws that other experts could fix on a house. Fred even saved some precious objects from destruction, by taking care of them, always thinking that every family would love to keep something from the person that had left them, if it had happened in their house. And if it hadn’t, he was always very good at finding evidence that could have been ignored at first sight.

 Besides all of that, the man was cheaper than the competition and his clients really loved that part of his business. Of course, his main employer was the police department, but even them had to use other services sometimes, in order not to look as if they had a preference for him of any kind. He understood that very well and just kept working on other crime scenes and also fixing houses that needed his attention, although he really liked working after something horrible had happened somewhere, because he felt he could help bringing that place into a better place, he could even make people feel better and less afraid.

 When he finished smoking, he pressed the cigarette against a plank of wood and then threw it into one of his garbage bags. He put in the piece of wood to and walked down the stairs to put it all in his car. The afternoon was almost over and he needed to get to the landfill before they closed. He could sell some of the things he had found in the room he had cleaned for good money, things that a family would not like to save but that he could take advantage of.

 He was able to get there just in time and, after selling some objects to the operator, Fred went back to his place: it was a tiny apartment above a pizzeria, near downtown. The place was old and rather unpleasant if one considers the smell of anchovies, but he got used to it. Besides, he didn’t really need that much room to live, as he lived by himself. The only other living being in his apartment was a cat called Pineapple. He was fat, had yellowish fur and the hairs on his head seemed to always be working independently from the rest of his body. So, the name had been chosen perfectly, the moment Fred had met him in a crime scene.

 He suspected he had been owned by a girl who had been killed with his parents by a burglar, but he didn’t know for sure. He asked the police if he could keep the cat and no one seem to mind. From that moment on, the cat was named Pineapple and it often sat by the window, looking at the fishery on the other side of the street. The funny thing was that he could actually go there and eat it if he wanted, but he never left the apartment. He was just one of those creatures that one never understands, no matter how long you try to make sense out of its existence. A very human animal, in that sense.

 Fred had never married and had never felt the urge of having children. He did like women and he did like children but all of that didn’t really fit with his work and his work was the one thing that actually made him feel good. He had discovered the job later in life, after been fired from his workplace and then wondering around for years, from one menial job to the other, lasting six months at most in each one of those assignments. His parents never approved of his lifestyle and they eventually stopped talking to him in a frequent basis, deciding to only contact him during the holidays or when they felt it was necessary.

 The last time he had talked to them was when his grandmother Libby had died from old age. Libby was one of those adorable older women, the kind who love to be pampered but also enjoy saving parts of their old lives all around their house. He was the one in charge of cleaning up her house, before it was put for sale in order for his parents and her other children to profit from it. He felt awful helping them doing that to her, but it wasn’t as if he had a choice. They didn’t listen, they just said things to him and he was expected to comply. He tried to rebel against that but decided not to try ever again, as it never led anywhere.

 He found Pineapple’s bowl there, as she had owned several cats herself but they had all died because she overfed them. He did find a couple of dead cats around the house, but they had died such a long time ago that the smell was not a problem. He also kept a nice picture of her and his grandfather and also a beautiful pair of shoes she had kept in a secret storage section of the house, that no one had ever noticed before he cleaned up the place. He also found some of her secret savings and a couple of jewelry items he could sell at any price.

 But he never did. He thought it was all too precious and selling it would devaluate everything. So, he kept the shoes and the jewelry in his closet and put all the money he found into a bank account that he promised himself only to use if his financial problems ever got as the ones in his past. But thanks to his cleaning business, that was almost impossible. It wasn’t that he was rich or anything of the sort, but he had always been very careful with money, despite being horribly unlucky when trying to find employment. He was one of those people that really only need money to live but they find no actual joy in having any.

 His flat was very modest, his cat was second-hand and clothes had never been a concern of his. His loves were doing his job and walking around beautiful parts of the country, in those moments he allowed himself to go on vacation and enjoy himself a little bit. Fred did feel a bit sad to realize that he didn’t really have anyone to share those experiences with, but understood that not every single person in the world was meant to be in a relationship. It was one of many things he had learned in the cleaning business and working with deceased people.

 Everyone makes such a fuss about life and death and about what you own and who you share it with and so on and Fred found all of that to be utter stupidity. He just wanted to feel that he could accomplish something, no matter how small, and that was it. He didn’t need to fill his life with a bunch of things that he didn’t really need it. He even tried finding new hobbies and passions and it did work, with some things, but it he was always back to work on time and he always very attentive of his tiny apartment and his cat. The top priorities never changed and some people thought that indicated that he was sad or depressed.

 And, although he did feel a bit lonely sometimes, he enjoyed his life thoroughly. He didn’t care for having more or changing something from what he knew. He felt great about it and had realized that he didn’t need any more from life. He didn’t even understand why some people demanded so much just because. He had his things, his little joys, and that was enough for a man like Fred.