February 23, 2009

Chapter III - Compagnon de route

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Slowly, like following the beat of a lazy drummer, Armando was crossing the street.
Everybody knew who he was but still he would walk his way alone, always quiet, no one even saying a polite "good afternoon".
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Most of the people feared Armando's proverbial temper, but as time went by - and everyone gets older but only a few get wiser - many of those who feared him kept the distances just for the sake of a status that he obviously didn't have any more.
The sole exception was this boy that stopped in the side-walk the moment he saw the elderly man.
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-"Mr. Armando!" - he called.
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Safely reaching the other side of the road, the man then turned over to face the youngster.
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-"Hello, Nuno." - saluting, in his single-tone way of expressing anything, from joy to hate; resuming his pace, he knowingly expected the boy to catch up with him and this became true a few seconds later.
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-"How are you, Mr. Armando?" - and not waiting for the answer - "I went to your house, but you weren't there so I..."
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The anxious Nuno was silenced by a subtle yet firm gesture.
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-"I am here now. And returning home."
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Although used to keep his distance, Armando liked the boy; a brief smile crossed his face when remembering the day Nuno saw him installing a brand new telescope, and the inner struggle he must have had until fear from the old man was surpassed by curiosity.
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That was three years ago.
Since then, most of Armando's knowledge about astronomy and space had been transferred to his curious young friend and now, with Nuno already at the age of 15, even one of the telescopes and several books became his.
Still walking towards home, the inevitable question came.
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-"So what did the doctor say?"
-"The doctor knows nothing. I'll be taking some other tests."
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Only part of this was true; he would be indeed taking medical tests. But the doctor already knew something: blindness was steadily growing over his sight...
Other problems were also detected, and a general picture on his condition would be available only after a full battery of medical exams.
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-"But didn't you say your problem should be solved with spectacles and some rest?"
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Armando was tired of walking, arthritis penalizing each step, and the visit to the doctor hadn't helped much his spirit.
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-"The doctor could not prescribe those spectacles just because I said so, thus the need for some more medical exams..." - letting some impatience slip through his words.
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Nuno understood that this conversation should change direction so he gladly took it to his favorite theme:
-"So... is it ok to keep our plans for later today?"
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Buildings were becoming scarce and the road ahead lead to a solitary house, right in the middle of a hill facing the valley.
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-"Yes, there should be no problem." - and halting their march for a while, the man looked at his compagnon de route - "As usual I'll be feeling better after my nap; and the telescope is always in place and ready."
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The smile on Nuno's face was contagious and Armando couldn't help but to smile too.
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- "Great! I'll see you then!" - already running down the street - "I'm late for lunch! My mother's gonna be mad at me!"
In no time he had vanished, like flying in low altitude through the narrow streets of cobblestone.
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The old man kept walking, alone, along the road that led to the big house on the hill; his home.
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2 comments:

Femin Susan said...

nice interesting post.
Cheers!

Stanis said...

This is nice. Sad, poignant, reminds me of someone i know! Now on to IV