Our Disease 18

The Sad Man in The Coffeeshop 

There was a man that walked into a coffee-shop. He stood in the center of the room, looking around. It was as if he was looking for something. Sometimes he would stare at a corner of a room, the customers were thinking that he was looking at them. There was a sadness in his eyes. He remained standing there for over an half an hour, finally a kindly barista walked up to him, asked him if he was okay, if there was anything she could do for him.
”No thank you,” he said, ”I’ll be leaving soon. I don’t mean to bother anyone.”
”It’s okay,” said the barista, ”would you like to sit down? Did something happen?”
There was a pause before he answered, ”there used to be a playground here. There was a sandpit there. A swing right there. They demolished it long ago. I never really cared. We shouldn’t, we should move on. But I’m looking back at things, even if it might hurt. I think this is a good place to start…” A pause, he looked at the barista who listened intently, she was only a teenager, ”my best friend died about your age. He would have become a great man. We lost touch before it happened. So many could have become great men, so many didn’t get a chance.”
He looked at the teenager, smiled for her, yet his sad eyes remained.
”Thank you for listening, you take care of yourself,” he turned around and headed out the doorway, it was unusually bright outside. The barista would see him leave and disappear into the light. He made one final remark before he left: ”and for god’s sake, take care of each other…”

He was sitting next to Crispin, both on a separate swing, gently moving along with the wind. Crispin, still looking like the sprightly twelve-year old, was sucking on a lollipop. There was darkness above, the rain was coming soon.
”You want a lollipop?” asked Crispin.
”Why not,” said Harry and Crispin handed him a lollipop from his pocket.
”It’s strawberry, your favorite.”
”You remembered.”
”We remember everything here.”
Harry ripped open the plastic and put the lollipop on his mouth. They both sucked on the lollipop for a while, enjoying the silence.
”There are some who fall to deep and were never able to come back up,” said Crispin.
”I know.”
”In the end it’s very simple but not very easy.”
”I’ve seen people who were lost in there. I’ve seen their eyes. It happened to the one of the people I loved the most.”
Crispin turned to Harry, ”you know, she’s very proud of you. I hope you know this.”
”I think you are just telling me that. I don’t think that’s true.”
”I think you are telling yourself the opposite because you have trained your mind to do so. I think that for a man who values the truth, you lie to yourself all the time. This is what we do. This is what we train our minds to do. It’s the disease. The bug is making us lie to ourselves.”
”Well I guess I’ll figure that out. In the end, I’m supposed to realize you are right and I am wrong.”
”This is not a competition. I don’t want win by being right. I want you to be happy.”
”I find it hard to believe that’s possible in this stage.”
”It’s going to take some time.”
”How long?”
”This depends, each person is difficult. You gotta get through your own pace. You’ve already made some pertinent moves, believe it or not. You’ll get there. You just gotta have faith.”
Harry sighed, he could feel him coming closer.
”I’m scared Cris,” said Harry, ”I’m really scared.”
”I know, it’s normal to be scared.”
He could see him coming, his white face and dark eyes.
”It’s going to hurt a lot.”
”Yes, you will have to confront the pain. You will have to wrestle with it. Eventually you’ll be free.”
Harry began to swing forth and Crispin followed his league. He was swinging back and forth, getting higher and higher. He was coming closer, he was so close.
”I never said goodbye,” said Harry, ”I never gave you a proper goodbye.”
”You never have to.”
Suddenly the swing, the cable that held it, disappeared and Harry felt himself falling. He screamed and reached out to the dark skies. It began to rain. There was a strike of thunder. Then everything went silent. Harry couldn’t even hear himself screaming.

Art by Jeff Lemire

***

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