LIBERTY WITHSTANDING
Trip: Part 1

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A bullet departed from the gun, held uncomfortably within my grasp. The ghost looked over from the shelf and said in deafening silence “That’s fucked”. It was all I could hear as the unknown man slumped over, his eye had been shot out by me, I think. His head was a mess, and it was growing larger. Sweating.

Turning around I sat on a train heading somewhere, I think, I was going to Paris. I was nervous since I did not speak French. Maybe however, I was not on a train, perhaps it was a tram? Was a tram a type of train? Was a train a type of tram? Which one was more important? Or was it which one was made first? Which one was made first? Train probably. Frustration came over me. Though, trains were nice, it was relaxing to ride one. I looked out to see that it was dark, it was night, and I could only make out large fields, flat land, and the occasional patch of trees. Lit with the full moon. I wondered to myself, where was I.

“Between places,” the ghost said. It was sitting next to me.

“Ah,” I said to respond to the ghost, it was rude not to do so. Being rude was the last thing I wanted to do. Why? Why was being rude bad again? Was it for my own selfish reasons, for social benefits? Was it to serve others, to live for others? Was it because it was the correct thing to do, the moral or the father fearing? The answer was forbidden, and it made my muscles tense and my chest contract.

My attention was taken by my hands, gunless, they trembled. Sweating. Turing, I looked at the ghost again, and their vacant. That was the best word for it I thought ‘vacant’. There was no comfort, since ghosts are not real.I wanted to sleep, it would let me escape, but I knew that I would get off my stop soon, in what was probably Paris. Looking around I was the only other person I could see. Alone I was lonely.

I walked out of the train and into a coffee café. I ordered a coffee from an unknown man. They had gotten the order wrong. I wanted milk and there was none. I started drinking it. It burned my tongue. The taste coated my senses making my stomach sick. The caffeine made me wide eyed.“Suis-je à Paris?” I asked the unknown man when paying for my coffee. The unknown man had no hair on his body, large and rotund, his eyes were like those of a cat. He spoke with the tone of someone that responds with the idea that ideas were not worthwhile in the first place. An abject rejection of experiences and concepts done to crush the weak, in what could only be seen in the purpose of ego. Granted the question was strange, but had the question been mundane it would have garnered the same response. Questions were an admission of dependency and such acts were a sign of weakness, to be mocked, belittled, and bullied until the lesson was learned. Questions are for those that are not strong. Asking such an unknown man for milk was thus not to be bothered.

I needed a map that would probably help figure out where I was and where I needed to go. I went to the library; however, it was Sunday so it was closed. ‘Good, I think,’ I thought. If it is Sunday, I am not late and I would have had some time to spare.

So I walked the streets of what I only could assume to be Paris, Maybe Paris, to kill time. There were many unknown people around me, living their own lives and breathing. Surrounded, I was lonely. The lights of the shops illuminated the cold ground. Some however were closed, it was after all Sunday. Others held their doors open with guards stationed outside them. While walking then I saw an unknown man, or the figure of an unknown man laying down. Wrapped in a blanket and laying on a mattress he was illuminated by the white light of the store he was beside, the store was not closed it was an H&M. I took a glance at him remembering the words my father had once said: “Give them no mind, and less money”.

However with a small glance I saw what was in his hands, a needle, and with that I gave him much mind. The needle from what I thought was empty. What had been in it? Where? God knows and he does not share. The needle was still in his hands. The needle. I felt uneasy as my chest ached. I was not scared but extremely so, I felt unsafe. I did not stop, my pace of my steps did not falter and I walked past this unknown man. Walking onwards not ten steps I saw an unknown woman holding an unknown baby. This, life, did not feel safe. Sweating. Now I increased my pace, since I wanted to be gone.After more steps I thought about the grasp that unknown man held over me and realized something, or did not realize but think a new thought. He was perhaps the Wizard. Though this was quickly discarded, he would not be, not this unknown man. Not probably. He was perhaps a gypsy, they have many curses. And many of those folk. But I think now being some distance from him that this too was giving him too much. I was the one cursing myself. I walked into the library. I walked up to an unknown woman, she was at a desk.

“Excusez-moi madame, avez-vous une carte?” I asked.

“Oui monsieur, nous en avons beaucoup,” she answered. “Nous en avons dans le couloir, ou au deuxième étage.” She pointed towards a direction.

Looking, I started walking in that direction. “Merci,” I said.

“J'espère que vous trouverez ce que vous cherchez monsieur,” she said.

I hope so too.

Stepping forwards I was on the second story. My footsteps were audible to me as I walked between bookshelves looking for what I had come here to find. Glancing back and forth the books started to bend and change places. This made it hard for me to inspect the books. Sweating. My footsteps became louder as I started to look harder for what I had come here to find. I found myself where I had started twice over, and still I had not found it. It was then I realized that my heart was beating and I could not understand. I walked forwards, hoping that my footsteps might drown out the sounds of my heart. I found myself back another seven times. Still I did not find it. I tried to look again at the books, they bent into themselves and then out again. Sweating. I felt my arms grow weak and my eyes strain, an itch came into them and I started to weep. I laid down onto the ground and slammed my fist against the floor. Feeling my fist smash it hurt me and drove me to cry out more than I would have thought. I did this silently, and covered my mouth so as not to let people around me know that I am weak. I laid like this stewing for twenty three minutes until I was done. My eyes were red, my face itchy from the dried tears, feeling snot come out of my nose and over my chin. Ashamed, I took a book out of the shelf and used it to cover my face until I got to the toilets.

I was expected to pay 50 cents for this privilege. There was an unknown woman there who stopped me, she told me that I needed to pay and that I was not allowed to bring books inside here. I apologized, handed her the book and took out 1€ and gave it to her, she gave me the change and I was allowed to enter. Inside there was a mirror and I looked at myself for the first time in longer than I remember. ‘Yes that is me,’ I thought. I cleaned myself and walked back out and the unknown woman handed me the book I had taken. Holding the book was hard since looking down part of my hand was broken, or I did not know if it was broken. It was bloody, black and blue.

Turning around I got another coffee, I picked up the cup with my left hand since to do it with my right hurt too much.

“Condolences,” the ghost whispered through the steam coming from my coffee. I brought it to my lips and swallowed.

My eyes were heavy and my hands trembled. It was but the first step. The first step and I had already stumbled to beneath the ground. I wondered to myself why it had been me, knowing it was also everyone. I had found myself in Maybe Paris and looked up to the blue and clouded sky, the air was cool and I was sitting outside. Still alone, this however became a smaller concern to me now than it had been before. ‘What now?’ I thought to myself. I had no direction.I felt something on my shoulder. Looking to see what it was, it was a hand. Nik was looking down at me with penetrating eyes. He was wearing what looked like an adidas tracksuit, but was not.

“My name is Nik,” he said, still looking down at me.He pulled up a chair next to me and grabbed my injured hand. From his pocket he took out a bandage and started to wrap it around the hand he had grabbed. Looking down at it. I said nothing as he finished wrapping it. He stood up and walked away.I looked for a moment at what had been done to my hand, and then back to see that Nik was no longer to be seen. That man was not the Wizard, I knew that. Was he here to help? I could not know.
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