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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, '13, 12:48 am

I don't have vivid recollections of what happened afterwards. I know that I left the living room to stay with my wife for a while, and then, as our kids woke up and had their breakfast, I suggested that I should go to the deli and get us something tasty for lunch, just to save my wife from the pains of having to cook on Sunday. Besides, I hoped that a change of airs would help me getting out of what I still considered to be just a temporary mental distress. As my wife promptly accepted, I invited my son to come with me, and we left.

By the time I arrived at the deli, my spirits were higher. Downtown was just a few miles away from home, and the short drive helped me to forget the ideas and recollections that were torturing me. It was so calm that I don’t remember anything other than my son Paul asking me if we were going to pay a visit to the newsstand in order to buy packs of stickers for the album he was collecting. I did not remember that he was collecting stickers, but as he said I had promised him, I didn’t want to break any promises and teach him to do the same. My mind was so screwed that morning that I concluded it was my fault that I didn't remember anything about that promised.

At the deli, I ordered Italian food, because I knew I would please Laura. My wife was from a traditional Italian family and that kind of food would make her remind her loved ones. I could not help making such small pleasantries because I knew Italian families tend to be very sentimental and the fact that Laura's family lived far on West Coast made it harder for her since we were reunited only once or twice a year. I can't relate very well with her feeling because I also miss my family, but my case is rather different.

I tried to avoid thinking about that, because my day had already been terrible. After getting the food, I asked my son to choose what dessert he wanted me to buy out of the ones available. His answer deeply moved me.

"Dad, let's have chocolate parfait. It is Jenny's favorite dessert."

I was so glad that Paul was so considerate about his little sister. That was something I wish I could teach him, but I couldn't. And I was so glad that it came naturally. I have named my son after my late dad. Although father gave me my life twice, I had ambiguous feelings about him.

Because when I climbed down the stone steps back from the altar, the reflux of my stomach was halted and went down again, burning down my throat. It had brought me back to my senses. "Not her... not her... please..." The only thing left for me was to draw my six-shooter from the holster, point it at my right temple and pull the trigger, blowing my brains out and freeing me from that torture. I didn't even hesitate, just stopped to repeat the scriptures "Lord, why have you forsaken me?"

However, I have heard my father yelling, "Christopher, no!” As I pulled the trigger, I felt my arm being pushed, and the bullet barely missed its mark. Completely defeated, I fell on my knees and let my dad drag me out of that hellish temple. As soon as we were outside, he yelled at me again, "What are you trying to do, taking the coward's route?"

But he didn't understand. I was taking the only honorable exit left. I lost my faith exactly at that moment. My faith in God, my faith in justice, and even my faith in my father. Especially because he betrayed me. After those events, I don't remember very well what happened, but probably I took part on the massacre that left no native man, woman or child alive. However, when I came back to my senses a few days later, I noticed that my father had surrendered his will to remain alive.

I blamed him for everything. For taking us to that Amazonian hell, after unfulfilled promises of El Dorado. Riches never came as we wandered through the dense tropical rainforest, living in constant fear of being attacked by 15-feet-long rattlesnakes or ferocious jaguars; suffering from plagues and diseases; frightened by the threat of aggressive native populations. We lost ourselves in that inhospitable wilderness, whose trails no sane man would voluntarily thread on, exploring the worst parts of Peruvian, Bolivian and Brazilian territories. Then, I blamed him for not letting me end my misery. Finally, I blamed him from letting the grief overcome his will to live. He had aged ten years in a span of six months and not much later, I was alone in the world.

With no one to turn to, I left that damned place with only my bitter memories and permanent scars in my soul. Probably I have been unfair with my father because he had certainly more reasons to grieve than me. He didn't care that he was sinking to the depths of hell, he wanted to save me. So he did, partially. Maybe naming my son after him was some kind of homage or tribute I was paying to him.

However, those thoughts made me wonder why I haven't named Jenny after her. The answer, though, is easy. Because I wanted to forget, I just wanted to forget.

I left the deli realizing that all my effort to suppress those thoughts had been fruitless. As far as I could remember, I had no idea of how often the things I saw or thought led me to regurgitate the memories I hoped to leave untouched until my brain would naturally discard them. But the wheel of life kept spinning regardless my success or failure in dealing with my inner monsters. So, I took my son to the newsstand, as I had promised him.

The place was crowded with excited little kids who had just left the Sunday school followed by their reluctant parents, and I was no exception. Staying a few feet away from the newsstand, I handed Paul some money and told him to go and get the packs of stickers he wanted. As he blended with a dozen or so other kids in that minuscule space, I turned my attention to the surroundings.

In contrast with the chaos behind me, the streets around us were mostly empty. The last remaining people were slowly leaving the small plaza, while an old man closed the church gates. There was a toddler chasing after a few pigeons, only to see them fly away to the safety of the church's roof. I looked up at the clear blue sky.

Suddenly the bright colors became sepia and I saw myself a little boy chasing after the pigeons, and getting frustrated that they disappeared over the roofs of the houses and trees. It looked as if they were the same pigeons, in the same plaza, in front of the same church, with the same people passing by. Like the time had passed just for me. And I almost believed that I would turn back and see my family, waiting for me, young as they were when I was just a little boy clumsily running and waving my arms hoping that I would catch one of the birds. Hoping that those who were watching me would be there to watch my children repeat the same silly movements while we laughed together.

A loud cry piercing my eardrums made those nostalgic images disappear. "No! No! Please..." And I was back to the darkness of the rustic room, being wakened by the desperate cries for help coming from the other side of the wall. With my heart throbbing violently inside my chest, it took me a few seconds to come to my senses. A few crucial seconds that sealed my fate. Not my fate, our fate. I darted towards my shotgun and then towards the bedroom beside mine. The wooden door was locked, but I collided with it with such strength that the fragile lock broke, and the door collapsed immediately, sending me crashing down to the floor. The cries became fainter and fainter, as I rushed to the open window, whose blinds had been removed. However, it was too late. I had to stay there, watching some shadows carrying her to the woods, hearing her last cries "Dad! Dad!"

A slap on my hand brought me back to my senses. "Dad! Dad!" It was Paul, trying to catch my attention. "I am back already!" He added, thrusting a few coins into my hand.

As I turned my head to look at him, I've caught the glimpse of a mother pulling her weeping little daughter by the hand and scolding the toddler, who was begging for something. ¨No! No! Please!¨. However, it had been too much for a day for someone to call it a coincidence. If I was almost sure there was no God, there should be some sort of devil, because all those events that plagued my Sunday morning could not have happened by accident. Someone was trying to thrust the knife back to my open wound to finish me. That dreadful feeling I've constantly fought against during the whole day had returned, full force. And, gradually, I started losing my hopes that there was a rational reason for all that.
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