I don’t know where to start or what details I should leave out. I don’t even know if this story is worth telling. What I do know is that paper has better ears than any of my so called friends. I will begin on the night of Oct. 18, 2006.
I saw him: he was kneeling in the dark alley, with a knife in his hands, covered in blood and hugging her lifeless body. While he hugged and kissed her, his other hand continued stabbing her, as if his heart had been deeply divided by the love and hate he felt for her, all at the same time. It was right at that moment that I changed the channel and never found out the ending of the movie.
It was late and I was hungry, but my fridge was empty since I refuse to go to grocery store unless it’s absolutely necessary. I hate the grocery store, with all its food taunting me and telling me how I can never put them together to cook anything worth eating. I decided to put some popcorn in the microwave. As I was about to dig in my delicious, high-sodium snack, I heard a knock on the door. Not expecting anybody, I ran to my bedroom searching for my wooden bat that I had bought sometime ago with the sole intention of hurting anyone that ever tried to break in my apartment.
I cautiously looked through the peep hole, and I saw him. It had been 10 years since we last talked. He was still as handsome as ever. I ran to the bedroom to see if anything could be done to fix my homeless, vagrant look. The best I managed to do was to wipe the crusty nacho cheese off my face and spray some Binaca in my mouth. I ran to the door, and caught him about to leave.
“Hey,” he said, “it’s been a long time.”
“Yes, it has“, I said.
“It’s been so long I can’t remember if we ended up as friends or enemies.”
“Well, for your sake I hope it was friends, because I have a bat in my hand, and I don’t know what to do with it”. He chuckled his perfect chuckle and asked if he could come in.
Against my will I said no, but not because I didn't want him to come in, mostly because my apartment was such a mess that only war survivors could find their way through the piles of dirty clothes, papers and books.
He looked surprised at my answer. And why shouldn't he? The entire time we had spent together I never denied him anything.
“Well, then, can I see you for coffee tomorrow?”, he asked.
This I didn't deny him.
I spent the whole day wondering what this coffee date would be all about. I fantasized about him saying how he traveled the world, far and wide, and realized he couldn’t live without me. And now here he was, with a big diamond rock in his hand, kneeling down, asking me to share the rest of our lives together.
I also thought maybe he had killed someone, like the man in the movie, and now needed a new identity and a place to hide.
But most of all, I thought he had just come back to hurt me one more time. And even though this thought kept coming back I couldn’t get myself to miss that coffee date. I wasn’t even sure if he would show up. I could imagine him hiding behind a tree, watching me sitting all alone in the coffee shop, waiting for him to arrive, and then laughing because after all these years I was still stupid enough to wait for him.
To my relief, he arrived, and right on time, which was another reason for surprise. But he wasn’t alone. He had a guide dog with him. I thought he had gone blind from seeing me yesterday.
He sat down. The dog sat next to him.
“I’m glad you came,” he said, “I really thought you wouldn’t come. At least not after…”
“Stop, you don’t have to remind me. I spend too much time trying to forget. I don’t need you coming to remind me of a closed chapter in my life.”
“You’re right,” he replied, “I don’t even feel the right to come see you, but I need you…”
And then my brain went on fantasizing again. I thought he would end his phrase with: because you’re the love of my life, because you’re the most amazing person I know, because I’m madly in love with you.
Instead, he said:
“I need you…to take care of my dog. You see, I’m in town for only a few days, and I don’t know anyone in this city anymore. You’re the only one I know…”
Nope, I wasn’t the only one he knew. I’m the only that would still talk to him. You see, Omar had left such a bad reputation in town that he had to leave. He had slept with every girl in the city, he had cheated on every girl in the city, that he only way to start a new life (and not get killed) would be to leave the city. And so he did. Ten years ago.
Now I really wanted to disappear.
Instead I just asked: “What’s with the dog? Did you go blind from seeing so many women at the same time?”
Again, he chuckled his perfect chuckle, looked at me deeply with those brown, deep eyes that lied to me for so many years and that I still adored, and shocked me with his answer: “It’s my wife’s dog…”
Now I was really feeling uncomfortable. I heard the fantasies of him proposing shattering and disappearing. I guess he must’ve seen my expression of disbelief, anguish, anxiety, sadness and loneliness all at the same time, because he paused and said: “I know it’s a lot to ask, and I don’t want you to feel obliged to do it. But if you do, I promise you it will only be for a week.”
I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to say no and run away crying, I wanted to slap him and ask him what was wrong with him, but most of all I wanted to kiss him so badly, and ask him why he hadn’t married me.
Before I could give him an answer, I had to find out why his wife had a guide dog. He said that his wife was blind.
“Of course you had to marry someone blind. No one that could see your cheating, lying face would marry you.” But deep inside I knew that I would marry his cheating, lying face if he would only ask…
He stood up and admitted that it was a mistake to even ask for my help. I agreed with him. He left a folded note on the table and left.
Once again, my brain went on fantasizing about that note, in which he declares his deep love for me and tells me that I’m the only one he dreams about.
I was hesitant to open it because I knew that once I did, I would be proved wrong again.
This time I wasn’t. It read:
“I was never able to forgive myself for what I did to you. I came to you today, not because I need you to take care of the dog. The plain truth is that I need you, and I couldn’t come up with a better excuse than this. I’ve never been really bright, but I guess you already know that.”
But, what about his wife? Doesn’t that dog belong to his wife? But he wasn’t there anymore to answer my questions. I didn’t know that to think. Was this a cheap attempt to get me to run after him and say that I will take care of his dog? Was he trying to trick me? Am I in candid camera?
This note seemed suspicious. I thought I would be elated at reading this explicit expression of love, but I wasn’t. I was scared. I felt there was something hidden behind this note. Why wait 10 years? Why come now?
I didn’t run after him. I fought against my whole body and mind to walk straight to work instead of following the liar with the deepest brown eyes. I couldn’t concentrate on anything at work, and I was thankful when it was finally time to go home, so I could go cry myself to sleep and kick and punch all my pillows. I felt confused.
That night he went back to my place. He knocked on the door, but this time I opened the door so quickly I didn’t even clean the crusty nacho cheese off my face. I was prepared to jump into his arms if he told me in person what he wrote on the note.
“I just came to apologize”
“Apologize for what?” I asked.
“For the note”, he said.
“Why? Are those words true?”
“Yes, they describe exactly how I feel…”
I wanted to cry tears of happiness. I had so many questions for him. Why now? Are you really married? What took you so long to come back?
And then he interrupted my thoughts with these words:
“but not how I feel about you. The note was meant for someone else, but I wanted to clarify that before I left town. You know, gossip runs quickly around this area.”
I felt as if lightning had struck me. The only thing I could say was: “Do you like baseball?”
I walked back to my bedroom, grabbed my wooden bat…