The Company – 12

Despite the fact that cemeteries are generally some of the places most tranquil and conducive to meditation that one can think of in this crazy world of ours, and despite the fact that this particular cemetery that was having us excelled in that regard, we had to consider very seriously the danger of any misplaced hatred from the vicar and his undoubtedly despicable minions. They were likely watching us through their stain glass barricades, snorting and plotting. One could feel that danger growing larger and larger with every second, increasingly becoming more real and threatening us from all directions of our fears. We couldn’t delay ourselves in that peaceful corner of the city even if that was exactly what we wanted to do.

We propped OldThrown up and dragged him to an adjacent garden where we weren’t supposed to enter. There was an ongoing but unattended barbecue, and in almost no time five long and perfectly cooked sausages were transferred into one of my bags. We got out of that garden before anyone complained about our presence there, and we found ourselves in another garden, weedy and depressing. There was a hole in the fence and beyond it an empty parking lot. Turd got a good feeling for a boxy, three-story building at one end of the parking lot, so into there we went. The only possible escape that we found was through a window that led us to the precarious roof of a neighboring building. Somehow we were able to cross that roof without sliding down to our deaths, arduously reaching a wall with some emergency stairs. At this point, besides retracing our steps and returning to the parking lot, we didn’t have any other option than to climb up the stairs, which went straight up several stories. We were unsure that OldThrown could complete the ascent.

“I could rename him Goose and he could fly to the top, but I don’t want to,” Turd said.

“I thought that geese cannot fly,” I replied with a very obvious touch of sarcasm, so that it wouldn’t go unnoticed.

“Just because you have never seen one flying doesn’t mean that they cannot fly, does it?” He was clearly annoyed, and possibly correct in his argument, so I was ready not to insist on the matter and go back to discussing alternative solutions, when I noticed that OldThrown had started to make his way up the stairs, having dealt already with a few rungs.

“There he goes,” I said.

Turd turned around, assessed the situation for a few seconds and then sat down.

“Can I have one of those sausages, please?” he said.

“Shouldn’t we follow him?” I asked, pointing at the struggling OldThrown. I was a little surprised by Turd’s decision to resort to laziness in such a moment so clearly requiring mindfulness and determination.

“You can go ahead. I’m going to wait until he makes it to the top. Going up those stairs is shitty enough, I don’t need the added stress of thinking that he’s going to fall on me and take me down with him. Can I please have that sausage?”

I produced one sausage, split it in two, gave the longest piece to Turd and ate the other. I followed OldThrown progression for a while. Every rung seemed to be a huge endeavour for him, and I could see how he would have to take longer and longer with each new one. I made some fancy calculations in my head. By the time I had thoroughly licked the sausage juices from all my fingers I was very happy with my estimate of twenty minutes as a minimum.

I sat down next to Turd and we shared another sausage. We talked about the usefulness of cats but we didn’t reach an agreement. At the end of our conversation I looked up again. OldThrown had completed more than half of his climb. I was not only surprised that he had made it that far, I also felt proud of him. From where we sat it almost looked like he had some special ability, some spidery tendencies that glued him to the stairs and allowed him to move upwards with ease, even if at an infuriatingly slow pace. And the more I looked at him and the more he advanced, the clearer it became that he was going to reach the top without any issues, and at the same time the more I doubted that I would be able to even get where he was now. Turd must have felt the same way, as he got up and without saying a word started to climb up the stairs, no longer worried about the possibility of OldThrown smashing him down, approaching each rung quite aggressively, as if having to prove something to someone. I followed Turd and my fear of falling transitioned very quickly in the immediacy of the pain in my arm muscles and the sweat running into and burning my eyes.

When I got to the top I was exhausted and ready to lay down and let my numbed muscles melt into a puddle around me. I was glad to see that OldThrown and Turd were still recovering from their own ascents and in no rush to get up and move on.

“… hard,” I was able to mumble. I stretched my body on the hard concrete and fell asleep.

In the darkness there were some soft fish floating around me and a lightless light that disappeared to produce an ajar door. I didn’t need to approach the door to know that there was a monster on the other side. A monster that would devour me or at least slash my flesh with sharp, metallic nails. I got closer to the door and I could already hear a resounding succession of thumps accentuating disturbing screams. I placed my hand on the door, ready to push it open, and the yelling on the other side increased. There was more light now.

“CrazyEye! CrazyEye!” I heard. There was some fluff around my eyes that dissolved into light. I opened my eyes and I saw Turd’s face too close to mine.

“We should be going, I just remembered I don’t like highs that much,” he said.

I muttered something but Turd was already on the move and OldThrown followed him as if leashed by an invisible rope. I had to make a huge effort to get upright, although after a couple of steps it became easier to trudge along.

We went down some stairs covered with dry leaves and shards from beer bottles. The stairs led to a locked door. Turd spent a long time fumbling with a piece of wire, convinced that he knew how to unlock the door.

“Have you ever been able to pick a lock?” I asked. Turd gave me an annoyed look and threatened to name my penis either Ant or Slug. Childish as usual. I didn’t say anything else, brushing one of the steps with my shoe and sitting down on it, wishing I had a book I could read or throw at Turd’s nape.

When Turd announced that this particular lock was trickier than he had anticipated and that he didn’t have the appropriate tools in his person, we retraced our steps, found the safest route to another terrace, and this time the door leading into the building was wide open.

We took stairs down and stairs up. We crossed yards and gardens. We jumped walls and squeezed through bush parapets. We were persecuted by a variety of inhabitants from that neighborhood so violent.

When progressing over the top of the buildings we had to attend not so much to any sense of orientation but to all of our restrictions. We couldn’t jump between any two roofs if there was any distance between them. We couldn’t afford OldThrown jumping feebly and not reaching the target, or landing on dislodged roof tiles, or otherwise doing something that would send him falling seven floors down, pointlessly fluttering in the air like a wingless pigeon and with his legs so thin.

After many comings and goings we came upon an ajar door to no matter which terrace in a well landscaped extension of thousands of terraces arranged at different levels. We stood in awe under the sun, observing for the first and last time those private and serene spaces, most of them currently deserted. In one distant terrace there was a mosaic with the colors of a summery prairie in fire. In a closer one there was an improvised barbecue made up with a shopping cart. There were flags, weeds taking hold where potted plants wouldn’t go, rusty fences, swimming pools for children, and sparrows playing around as they pleased.

When we thought that OldThrown was nearing a sunstroke we started our long descent towards the street level, with the idea of remaining there. The streets is what we know and where we live, although it’s also where our enemies roam. And sure enough, our next persecutor was the doorman of the building that we had descended. At least he didn’t care that much about us and stopped his pursuit once we turned around the first corner.

Later we sat on a concrete bench to recoup our breath. We looked around and couldn’t recognize any of our surroundings. We had never been here before. We were horribly lost. We could have been in a different country that we didn’t understand. Some kids stopped in front of us, and seemed ready to start doing something stupid with us as their target, the typical stuff, until we scared them away. The buses were green, not red as in our territories. Even the pigeons seemed different, wilder creatures with beetle faces.

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