Read it on Inkitt: https://www.inkitt.com/stories/148071/chapters/1?preview=true
He was looking at the barrel of the gun pointed between his eyes. Then, his solar green eyes moved to the man behind the gun. The eyes reflected a figure of a man, a man with no face. It was a 686 revolver and it touched the space between his eyes. Aaron showed his angry teeth and then relaxed his face back to normal. He looked at the barrel again.
’What do you want?’ he asked.
The man did not answer.
’What are your intentions in this situation?
The man did not answer.
‘Is there any way I could state my question so that you answer?’
‘Sit’ the man spoke in an orotund voice and lowered the gun.
Aaron sat on the chair on the left side of the table. The man sat opposite to him. There was nothing much in the room except for the table and the two chairs. Only a neon light shone behind the man, a white neon light behind the host.
‘Do you know the way back?’ the man asked.
‘Why would you want to go back?’
‘Why are you concerned by where I want to go?’
Aaron looked the man suspiciously. ‘Who are you?’
The man did not answer. They sat there, looking at each other in insensitivity that matched the coldness in the room. Aaron looked up, the ceiling was red. The man put the gun on the table.
‘Is it really loaded?’ Aaron asked.
The man picked up the gun once again and shot him between the eyes. It took a second.
‘First you take a bowl, but not too deep. You have to be able to perfectly beat 4 eggs. Then you crack the eggs and add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Then, my friend, you beat the eggs until they are perfectly beaten. After that, you take a pan, you heat it, you melt a knob of butter, you throw a slice of wholewheat bread, for the acids, you know. You take it out when it’s toasted. And after that, you pour the beaten eggs. You stir until they are silky, you put them on top of the slice of bread and sprinkle with black pepper. And this, my dearest friend, is your hangover breakfast.’
‘Thanks, Vice, that was very…educational. You have the talent.’
‘Yeah, I know right! I am great at cooking, among other things.’
They both laughed.
‘So where you’ve been last night?’
‘Around the city?’
‘Around the globe! Of course around the city. I met a man.’
‘He had a gun and he shot me.’
‘Here in Yonder?’
‘Thanks for being worried.’
‘What do you want me to worry about, it’s already done.’
‘Is it, really? How’d you know?’
The doorbell rang.
‘Eat your eggs. I’ll go get the door.’ Vice said. Aaron, however, went to the bow windows with the intent of opening one of them. The smell of the freshly painted walls was unpleasant at breakfast. There was a shadow behind the curtains as he pulled them to open the window. It was a man’s figure and for a moment he thought it was his own shadow; only the shadow had a gambler hat and was wearing what appeared to be a long black cloak. Aaron screwed his eyes up, but the figure had disappeared.
‘Your stand is here.’ Vice had come back. ‘Where’d you want it?’
‘Anywhere. I haven’t arranged anything anyways.’
They both went back to the kitchen bar.
‘So you met a man? What about a woman? Haven’t you met any women recently?’
‘But you chased them away, haven’t you?’
‘It’s not like that.’
‘You have to stop grieving.’
‘I’m not grieving. ’
‘Yes, you are.’
‘I’m eating my eggs. Your eggs, actually.’
She kept her frown throughout the whole journey. It was not the most exciting journey for it was with the subway – from the cinema to a restaurant, but yet his presence did not seem to matter much to her. She kept all the presents he bought her in her lap, but the space was not enough. Not because she was so little, but because the presents were so many. Some of them had to be held by him. Aaron kept trying to cheer her up, but nothing seemed to help, she even kept looking the other way.
‘Come on, babe. No one can predict the weather. It was raining, so what?!’
‘My hair got ruined and stayed wet the whole movie. I may even catch a cold, my neck hurts.’
‘We bought plenty of anti-cold tablets and a variety of tea pots for you to make fancy tea, along with all the warm clothes for you to wear, come on, it’s going to be fine.’
‘Yeah, easy for you to say, you’re not the one soaked in cold rain.’
‘You’re not soaked, that was three hours ago.’
They kept the same meaningless conversation until they reached the restaurant, during their dinner, and while they were going home. Aaron found himself not listening to her half of the time for it was getting too much once again.
‘I am thinking of opening the studio for visits, once it’s all set and I’ve got some new paintings.’
‘Good, that’s good, honey. Did I tell you about the book that I’m reading? You know how much I love reading. You’re not going to believe it. The guy cheats on her for years and when she finds out she…’
He stopped listening once again. He stared at her face. Such a beautiful face. He stared at her red lips, especially the upper one. Her mouth was moving as if cherries were blossoming, and her smile was the sun. He liked her for her passion, before he knew it was all a designed passion to attract people like him. He went home that night with tightness in his chest. It was happening again, the disconnection, the lack of genuineness, everything that was purely for show. His Messenger sound beeped. She had texted him ‘I love you.’ The expression of his face did not change. He opened Facebook. She had changed her cover picture to a photo of them both from one of the first dates they have had. His expression did not change. He clicked love on the photo with the hope that something will change in the near future, that she would perhaps understand what he was doing or why he had decided to take such a course in his life, or she would perhaps get interested, and in fact, more interesting herself. ‘She’s just emotional. There’s nothing wrong with that’ He thought, he tried to defend her in his head.
The studio had started to look the way he wanted it to be. The walls were all red and the floor was black and white, and there were huge bow windows and a ladder to the upper level, where his bed and personal area were. That night he felt the space in his place distinctly empty. He took a chair and put in the middle of the studio space, under a white light lamp. He sat in the silence for a few minutes. Then he reached into his pocket and took out a small plastic bag. ‘Come on, white boy, let’s get to work.’ He said to himself and sat there in the middle of the room, getting intoxicated.
He then took the stand and also put it in the middle of the room, next to the chair. ‘I guess here is where it’s going to be,’ he thought. He put the small plastic bag in the right drawer of the stand, where all his brushes were. The paints were in the left. He stared at the canvas. It was the only thing left that still got him excited. He took a picture out of his pocket and stuck it in the corner of the canvas and started working. He worked for a few hours without noticing the time for it did not matter before the canvas. Then he stopped to light a cigarette and decided to call her.
‘Hey, Dawn, how is you?’
‘Aaron? It’s four in the morning!? What’d you want?’
‘Lost track of time, wanted to check it with you.’
‘Is your girl not there?’
‘It’s here now,’ he said looking at the canvas where Dawn’s face looked back at him. ‘Wanna meet for a drink?’
‘Yeah, sure, let me just magically evaporate the tiredness of my body and I’ll be right there.’
‘Friday night at Nubes?’
Luna knew exactly what she wanted and that made her a dangerous woman. She moved as if the air was made to fit her body and she passed on drinks to people with such foxiness that they enjoyed drinking even when it was out of pain. She had the ability to transform the emotions of people. So, when Aaron arrived anxious about what’s coming next, she knew exactly what he needed.
‘That’s your whiskey, neat.’
‘Are you going to be that tense each time you see her? Dawn is not daunting.’
‘It’s not because of her that I am worried, it’s my own mind that troubles me’
Nubes was a place vast and yet concentrated because it contained everything that each person could see in it. The bliss in that place came with the rolled sleeves and nothing was known before it was over. The drink soothed that area of Aaron’s brain which corresponded to his anxiety.
‘Why’d you give me the cheap whiskey?’
‘Because your troubles are not that big.’ The woman responded and Aaron tried to look at her judgmentally. She couldn’t care less about it, so he continued:
‘Who are you to talk to me about the size of my troubles?’
‘I think your girl is here.’
Dawn had, in fact, arrived. ‘Aaron, it’s nice to see you.’ She reached to shake his hand. He hugged her. ‘The usual, Luna.’ Luna passed her a single rum shot with one cube of ice and a slice of lime. ‘Thank you.’ Dawn responded and she looked at Aaron questionably.
‘What?’ he said.
‘You wanted to talk, Aaron, now would be a good time to do so.’
‘Wanna go somewhere where there are less people?’
The place was usually full of people, because everybody in Yonder went there. It was one of the most curious places anyone had ever seen and there was always room for everyone. There was something new awaiting on each corner and nobody knew where the place ended. It was located in the woods, the sign above the entrance said There will be no miracle here and yet the most unique things happened there. Some claimed that the place was built like a labyrinth and that was why it seemed larger than it actually was – people moved around in circles without realizing. There were trees and bushes everywhere, with flowers that were always in bloom, with benches around them so people sat there with their drinks in those late nights and talked to each other with their souls. There were robins and nightingales singing during the nights. Nights that brought answers for most people. Only those who refused the truth did not fancy the place and could not stay for long. It was a place mostly for old souls. But most people in Yonder had old souls. It was an exceptional town, where people’s bodies were either a home or a prison to souls. You could tell which of the two, measured on the basis of the time they spent at Nubes.
The place was always lighted by neon lights. They were embedded in the trees, around the small wooden pathways, on the benches and, of course, Luna’s bar was decorated with them. The colours of the lights always seem to match the music that was played in Nubes. Aaron and Dawn went to a secluded place after they walked straight from the bar and took the first left turn.
‘It’s nice to see you are okay.’ Dawn began the conversation.
‘I’ve got something for you.’ Aaron reached to his bag and took out a folded canvas. He handed it to her and a tear fell off her eye when she opened it. It was a portrait of her, based on a photo that he once took of her. He saw the tear rolling off her eye and falling on the corner of the canvas.
‘Shit’ she was mad at herself. ‘I am going to ruin it.’
‘Naaah, you’re not. It has already dried.’ He smiled at her.
They spoke deeply for the rest of the evening, catching up with what has happened in the life of the other. They just sat there, together, in that strange place, unaware of what to do with their lives, unaware of the role each played in the life of the other.