He was a man around his mid thirties. Unshaved, in his pajamas, obviously waken up from our hammering on the door. His expression wasn’t friendly, not at all.
He took a look at us and I don’t think he liked of what he saw.
- Well fuck you James, I am going back to sleep.
- Hey I didn’t even got a chance to say hi!
- As I said fuck you. Its late, I am tired and you stink of alcohol.
And make a motion of closing the door. James interrupted him.
- Hey man please don’t, look we wont bother you we came to see your friend.
Our soon to be host let a big sight
- Come on in.
- Thanks man we owe you one.
- You owe me many, he is in his room probably watching TV, I don’t know why but for the last three days he doesn’t do nothing else but watch that stupid box.
- Cool we go in? Sorry for waking you up.
- You aren’t sorry so fuck of you and your friend.
- Ah! by the way let me introduce you, from here my old friend Eugenios Dante.
- Hi, if he is an old friend how come you never mentioned him?
- I met him a couple of hours ago in a bar.
- That explains it.
- Eugenios let me introduce you to our jackass of a host mr Jonathan Stephenson we call him Jon or jerk.
- How do you do? (I gave my hand) sorry for the drunkes of the hour.
He shaked my hand.
- He is a comedian is he? Nice he will feat right in with the rest of the freaks. Now if you excuse me.
With that he left us, went in to a room and closed the door.
- He usually is a nice guy, he gets pissed though when we wake him up. Wait here for me to grab a beer from the fridge, do you want one?
- No I am cool (and I wanted my head as clear as possible).
- Suit your self.
While he was gone I cheked out the place. Surprisingly it wasn’t a mess, it seemed clean, the furniture wasn’t anything special but filled the space nice.
- Here, take it.
- I said I don’t want beer.
- I heard you, take it anyway.
And with that he went for our mysterious friend’s door and knocked.
- Come on in its open.
A neatly tied room opens before us, under the light of the candles it gave a airy felling. The candles were arranged in a circle on the floor in to that circle with his back on us while looking at TV was sitting cross-legged the most strange man I had ever saw.
As he was sitting I couldn’t get a measure of his high, later I judged him to be around 5’3’’ and 5’7’’. He had long hair of brown color. He was wearing a T-shirt and jeans.
Also the candles were burning blue and green flames.
The room was relatively empty. Just a bed and a locker besides the TV that was on the floor, carpet was covering the floor from side to side.
- Hey man watch up, were did you get the candles?
- Hi, James how are you today? I got the candles from a neighbor, handcrafted and of excellent quality. Who is your friend over there?
- Hi sir my name is Eugenios Dante, I met James tonight and he brought me here, I hope we don’t bother you.
- No don’t wary about that I was just checking to see if magic is used via TV to control the masses or pass messages that go unnoticed by the actively thinking part of your brain.
- What? That was the best I could come up at the moment. James did better.
- Well? Is it?
- Thankfully no. But I do feel more inclined to do stupid things just to be away from this devilish box.
- So what’s next?
- I don’t know I might try to check that Internet thing that you have going on.
I looked them numbed by the alcohol and by the seriousness that they seemed to give at their conversation.
- Say James can you help with the candles?
- Sure, what I do?
- put them out and let them near the locker.
Fore a moment I thought of volunteering to help but there was barely enough room for 2 to move in the room, so I waited leaning on the door for them to blow out and gather the candles.
I still hadn’t saw this mans face, he was still sitting on the floor and with fast motions was gathering what candles were in front of him, putting out the flame and neatly place them along the locker.
He had gathered half the candles and was standing up before James had done a third of them.
He turned to me and for the first time I saw his face.
The first thing one noticed about him was his eyes. They were old eyes, those were eyes that had seen staff, beautiful staff, horrible staff and they weren’t tired from what they saw, there weren’t satisfied yet, his eyes gave a sense of hunger, a longing for something and as he looked at me those eyes got a spark in them.
- Hi again, forgive my manners, I am not accustomed to have company here, other than James that is. Allow me to introduce my self my name is Zosimos Zaman I am freelance writer, I write some columns in the magazines “occult for you” and “the magic of tarot”, no? Well I am also preparing a book but its along way from done at this moment.
- Wow that’s great! What is it about?
- To tell you the truth is about humans.
I waited for explanation or for him to add something that would give his sentence a sense but he didn’t seemed inclined to add anything and I dint want to push.
- Tell me do you play poker?
- I play from time to time yes?
- Great are you up for a game? Not real money of course.
- Well yeah sure.
- Neat, make your self comfortable while I get the deck.
James had ended with the candles and was getting some pillows from the locker he put them on the floor and sat on them.
- Come on, come on, sit, here take the pillow.
I sat with my back on the bed and made my self comfortable.
- Are you sure we don’t bother at that hour?
- No don’t worry, Zosi never sleeps?
- He suffers from insomnia or something?
- No, nothing like this.
Before he could add anything Zosimos was back with a deck in one hand and a beer in the other.
- So, he said, who shuffles?
Five games later every one was a lot more relaxed.
And by everyone I mean me, the other two were comfortable from the start. We used chips to keep score and it was obvious that Zosimos was ahead. It wasn’t that he won every game, it was more that he was losing less than the rest of us, always knowing were to push and were to fold, always making casual small talk and cracking really funny jokes been in other words an excellent host.
It was around 04:00 am and a sense of contend started to creeping up for me. That’s when Zosimos told us:
- Want to spicy the game up?
- What to you mean? Play for money?
- No man, play for stories.
- Yeah you know? Stories, secrets, memories, precious to us moments, you know.
- What would be the point of that, for us to learn each others stories?
- Yeah and no. Its kind more complicated than that, and of course magic will be involved.
- You kidding right? Magic? What magic? Hocus pocus staff? Magic doesn’t exist.
- Well that’s all good then, nothing to worry about. With what shall we start with? Secrets? First love? Embarrassing moments?
- That’s bullshit, why would we say any of those things to a stranger?.
- Well that’s the thrill, if you lose you have to tell something personal to a stranger, there lies the danger and with it the thrill.
- How would you know if I lied?
- I wouldn’t but that’s bad sportsmanship from your part.
A mirth appeared in my face, maybe it was the ridiculous of the situation but what the hell it sounded fun.
- How do we decide who lost the round?
- The one who lost the most at that round obviously, if it’s a draw both people get to share with us.
- Fine lets do this, who will chose the subject?
- We each draw a card, the one with the highest value chouses what’s at stake.
James got to chouse first.
- Ok I will go with embarrassing moment, lets play.
I have to admit I enjoyed this game a little more, in the back of my mind I was debating the merits of saying a true story or a false if I happened to loose, eventually I decide in the spirit of sportsmanship to say a true story and then I lost. That happens when you don’t pay attention.
I sat back and prepared my self for the telling, my co players had a look of anticipation.
- ok! Well, that happened way back at elementary school, I was to be part of chorus that would ride on a chariot in a parade, the theme was ancient Rome and the teachers that were organized it told us to dress us in red t-shirt.
Suddenly I was back there seeing my self, a young kid with a messed hair, excited for his parade, I saw me as I runned after the school to my home and told my mother for the teachers request, we were preparing the chariot as an after school project the whole year, it was a big deal for me, then as I talked time moved forward following the telling of my story, there I was at my room the morning of the parade, getting ready, asking my mother for the t-shirt and I once again felt my stomach tying in a knot as I noticed that the t-shirt was red with white stripes but keeping silent, and later when I was told from my teachers to go change and being confused as I hadn’t time to go home to change, none of the teachers had time for me, the anxiety build once again in me as I was trying to talk to the teachers and the only respond that I got was a glance and a go change. I ended up staying out of the parade and, frustrated and embarrassed I went home and cried in the arms of my mother.
I awoke from the dream. Once again I was at the small room of Zosimos, certain that I hadn’t move from the spot I was shocked from the intensity of my memory.
I excused my self end went to the bathroom to throw some water on my face, James started shuffling the deck.
Once I got back we started to play once again, this time the pay up would be a failed love.
I focused on my game and managed to win that round, the one who lost was James.
- Ok guys give me a moment to gather my thoughts, could you bring me a beer? Cool, I got it.
- This happened a long time ago.
- I was in my teens then I was hanging out with some folks and one day I was told that we would go to a pub and a girl would be invited so one of the kids could hit on her.
Again I felt that strange sensation, without lousing connection with my surroundings I was immersed in the story telling, I could almost make the faces of those kids and see them as the went to the pub, I could feel the excitement of James and how proud he was for his friend that would try to hit at such a beauty, so he talked with her and kept inviting him to enter the conversation but he seemed somewhat reluctant, finally he gave up and there rest of the night tried not to focus to hard at her breasts, I could almost taste the beer and hear the music in the background, I am sure I felt the excitement in his heart when he saw her again few days later and had learned his friend wasn’t interested in her, he managed to get her phone that day. Butterflies were flying in my stomach as he asked here on a date and the warmth of the room was asphyxiating for me as for him when he confessed her and she rejected him.
The room came again in perspective.
Silently we began our third game. I didn’t play to win, I played for Zosimos to louse.
The game stretched for a while and a round of beers was needed, as James went to get them I looked our host again under this new light.
- So that’s magic?
- What did you expect? Fireballs and storms coming from the tip of my fingers.
- I didn’t expected anything to tell the truth, what else you can do?
- Oh a trick or two.
- You will louse this round I will make sure of that, are you planning to cheat on your memory?
- Why would I do that? It spoils the game for all, me included.
- Hey guys, the beer arrived, now lets end this.
It was indeed Zosimos who lost, we again draw cards to choose the theme of the memory, I won.
The memory would be hope.
I have to admit that I was tired and wanted something nice for last, the beer, the late of the hour and yes the return of my old memory had me exhausted, James story didn’t helped, I just wanted to end the night with a happy memory.
This time I left my self to be completely cared over by the magic, the first thing that hit me was the cold sensation of the sea water, I saw Zosimos trying to stay afloat amidst the wreckage that once was a fish boat, he was young and scared and moments ago had saw his father being drawn to the depths with his leg tied up by a rope that he had left uncoiled, panic had overflowed his senses only a small part of his brain, the one that cared above all else for survival was still working, he was holding on to a piece of wood, trying to stay afloat scream for help and cry at the same moment, all was lost he knew, his world was lost, nothing would ever be the same, he was alone now and suddenly the world was a big place, he let go. His hands simple stop holding the wood and his feet stop kicking. Nothing was going through his mind, nothing at all. The sea accepted him in her embrace and the world became quiet as he started to sink. Suddenly something touched his back, strong arms grabbed him and he was pushed to the surface, he jerked and tried to get free, to turn to see what was holding him, as he moved around he got a glimpse of the impossible, his father was holding him and just like that he was brave again, he stopped his movement, got a grip of direction and started to swim to the surface along with his dad. The world was back on straight and his dad would take care of everything.
I looked around at the room and realized that I had tears in my eyes.Not much was said after, we finished our beers while making small talk and broke it up. The next day I felt refreshed, like I had a goods night sleep, at some point I even called the girl from the bar for a date, she accepted.