HE TOOK WALKS
He was become a man of few words but he always listened so that people thought he was deep. Like he was thinking more than he said and the look on his face was so serious that those thoughts were reckoned to be hard thoughts. His name was Agustin and when he spoke his words came out slow and halting, as if he was pulling them out from a dark place, one by one, and that made him seem deep, too.
Agustin took daily walks. He’d just get up, quiet as creeping, and he’d leave the room and descend the stairs to the street. He’d make no apology for going or offer up any explanation. He’d just up and leave and he’d be gone for hours. If you asked him where he was going, he’d just shrug and that added mystery to what he was.
He’d set off walking at all hours of the day and the night and no matter the weather. He’d have money in his pocket and the keys to the flat for his return and then he’d just go. Nerita asked to go with him once, and he shrugged then too and so they walked together, in silence at first. They walked with some seeming purpose, out beyond the city limits in the rain. Then they turned around and walked back again and Nerita broke the silence and she talked for the two of them and there was a breathlessness in her talking. In telling the story afterwards she could not say anything of what she had said and a part of her worried that she had said too much.
And that was it really. He had a way of keeping quiet that drew people out of themselves. They felt that they could tell him things, small things and things of importance. They thought that telling him was like telling the priest and that there was never any threat that what they told him could leak out. But then, once they’d told him and they looked back at what they’d said, they could not make sense of why they had said anything at all and so they came to hate him a little and to think he was deep and even that he was calculating and bad.
Truth is that he took those long walks to escape the noise in his head, the noise of people talking and all their secrets locked up in his thinking. He needed the sound of his feet slapping the road and his own breath coming short and quick and the pounding of blood in his head – he needed all of that to still the voices.
He hated knowing the things that he knew: that Alanza had slept with Miguel behind Stefano’s back and that it was the best sex that she’d ever had and now she didn’t know what to do because she loved Stefano. He hated knowing that Donato and Isidro had been drinking once and they’d taken the car and on the way back they had hit a dog and left it lying in the middle of the road with its bones broken and blood spilling from an open wound in its side; or that Orland had stolen money from his grandmother and was still doing it and she did not know that her life savings was draining away; or that Natalie had been pregnant and not knowing who the father was, she had taken two pills and spent three days bleeding in a hotel room in a small town where no one knew her name or where she was from; or that Martino thought he was in love with Ruben and there was this one night and they’d slept in the same bed and in the morning Ruben said he did not remember anything.
Agustin hated that they told him stuff. He was so afraid of talking, in case something that was secret slipped out. So, he was quiet and careful with his words and they thought him deep; and he took himself out on long walks to quieten the noise in his head. And when he was on his own and no one could possibly be near, far out of the town with only green hills and empty fields for company, he’d lift up his voice and talk without stop and he’d hang on the still air all the stuff that he knew, like his mother once hung the washing out to dry and the clothes when she brought them back into the house were fresher and smelled of flowers and birdsong and butterflies.
→Thanks again to Lindsay for letting me bring this work to you. Want more? Go to Lindsay’s site: “Just a Writer’s Page.” And, as always, thanks for reading! -PMc←