Rainy Boston. A cargo-ship blows its horn in the distance, two cats cross the road.
I step on a puddle and wet my trousers. Leo swears and tiptoes like a cartoon character, I accept defeat. The doorman meets us under cover and hands our jackets to an old man with a walking cane. Leo looks at me, entertained, as I try to look inside. After a few long minutes, the old man returns with a stub that we are supposed to keep as legal tender for our clothing. I put it in my pocket and thank the man for his slow-mo service.
We walk up to the bar and sit down next to a woman that doesn’t notice us. Leo asks the waiter to pour some drinks and I catch him glancing discreetly at her. I sit with my back upon the wall, my head resting against the mirror.
Something in the air is not quite right… Maybe it’s the absence of noise or the unusual kindness of the well-mannered waiters… Perhaps the portrait of an Admiral that looks bored above the register; the sleeve of a shirt, visible below his green con-decorated jacket, is unusual for someone in his position… It could be the dim lights too, drawing masks on every silhouette.
4 tables; a middle-aged man with a suitcase dining alone, two ladies dressed for a gala that loudly drink champagne, a couple playing games under the table and 2 silent men sharing oysters.
2 servers, a boy and a woman, keep the beers coming and the plates full. The sound of a lonely guitar comes through the speakers, making them characters in a play. Leo makes another joke that thrills the personnel at the bar but interrupts my thoughts; they exchange numbers.
– “I don’t usually give my number away, you meet all kinds”- she says to him, smiling- “But you seem sorta’ decent“.
– “I’ve been insulted many times before“, Leo counters, “but never with such cruelty”
They all laugh and rejoice; the liquor-refill man, the mysterious lady by the bar and Leo. I try to reconnect but it’s futile.
– “Have you got anything to eat? We’re expecting somebody” – I’m starving. – “I’ll ask the chef, we close the kitchen at 9 but he can fry some eggs or an omelette, if you prefer“. – “An omelette is fine“. He nods and disappears through a revolting door.
As we wait for my omelette, Leo pulls out a deck of cards and starts playing solitaire. Our man is supposed to arrive at 10 PM; I look up at the clock and it’s 9:45. The drunken couple has already left, probably determined to continue their games at home. One of the men has fallen asleep on the table and the server-boy, Ignatius, tries to wake him up.
“Excuse me, sir…” – he seems desperate -“We have to close the bar“.
It’s useless, the man will need the assistance of his friend to reach the door; I’m nervous. I’ve been after this for a long time… 6 months? After this parade of evasive answers, locked doors and silence, I can’t wait any longer. The night has turned into a cemetery of unmarked graves, homogenous and dull. Hypocrisy slowly creeps through the stones like a checkbook slowly eats a man’s morality. The clock hits 10 o’clock; the bar closes.
Journalism, I read in a book, is the non-partisan pursuit of truth. I was inspired upon hearing such a massive statement as a child, it seemed like an important task… The Truth.
I sought to become one, a journalist that is, and applied for an academic degree on the subject…. “Chester Price, the journalist”. There is something addictive about juggling with The Truth; it’s the trend these days. But the indisputable is that there never are 2 truths, there is only 1 and that’s why I chose to follow this path.
A woman with 2 kids and a husband on a boring job from 8-5 every day of the week doesn’t have the time to worry about the cost of life for the homeless, war prisoners, refugees etc…
It’s up to the Press and Institutions to show their reality on a daily basis, like football games. Very few in our species know the absolute truth but I’m counting on this man that just walked through the door, our man, to shed some light upon it and point me in a different direction.
It’s 10:15 at night; Leo and I sit with the man in flannel at a roundtable in a closed bar.
Arcadio Falcon. 2017.