The storyteller

To a traveller called Mert

Servant doesn’t hurry to suggest one more drink or a snack or some coffee to a few dumb visitors, left in the bar. He stares vacantly in his phone, paying no attention that music has dropped already a while ago. Through the stillness I can clearly hear vague whisperings and sobs of desolated city. I take a sip of a lukewarm liquid supposed to be my americano half an hour ago and look over the napkin scrawled with sketches and messy handwriting. I don’t hurry to unfold it as if it covered a precious present. So I try to extend the moment of discovery to get as much pleasure of it as possible. Ash marked its edges with the grey dust and pale brown stain blurred ink right in the middle. I touch soft paper unevenly with the tips of my fingers. I unfold the napkin performance line by line. Every morning he opens his eyes already knowing what brings this day. He lives out every day twice unable to change anything he sees in his dreams. Nightmares to be correct. In hope to trick the weird magic he keeps runs through streets, cities, changing routes and time zones. Suddenly sharp voice cuts the air. Shapeless figure in oversized coat covered in layers of scarf steps towards thoughtful servant sitting in front of the bar. I grab my stuff in a second, put the napkin into the pocket of my jeans and go straight to the entrance, leaving behind hard sound of turning over wooden table, swearing and glass broken into shivers.

As I walk to my apartment deep blue sky fades to grey. City is slightly awakening while I need some sleep. Next night I’m on to continue my napkin survey through deserted bars and tiny streets of the somnolent city. Last weeks I follow some particular schedule, kind of living in-between custom stuff and strange discovery of someone’s route. I feel like my senses are synchronized with this forgetful storyteller. I follow his journey relentlessly. Actually, I’m a part of it, an element connecting his yesterdays and tomorrows. It seems like he leaves some clues to be found, although I’m still not sure he is aware of my existence. This story resembles a game invented by someone’s ill mind, who entertains himself by connecting people in casual manner.

Every time I find familiar scripture on the napkin I ask myself if I have the right to interrupt his sacred intimacy. Before I let myself touch it I observe every spot on the table. I try to imagine his posture, the way he sits leaning over the table. For some reason I see him carrying a pen with his long fingers in a manner adult holds baby’s toy pencil. If servant makes attempts to possess my trophy I protect it from stranger’s claws putting my coffee above. From creased papers I learn that the wonderer keeps running with no effect, no matter he rushes or slows down his pace. In desperate attempt to swindle evil alchemy he wastes his nights out in the bars. It doesn’t work.

Day brings me back to the ordinary routine steps and steps away from my dark sanctuary. Light affects my perception in a strange way. Faces look vague and sounds are so far away that I’m not able to decipher most conversations. One Annoying passage of endless subway stations, taxi rides and long walks changes with the other with no difference between insipid dinners and cheap conversations that tear me apart from the napkin writer. Every morning I open my eyes and count long hours left till the dark will swallow colors. That’s the time my senses get sharp, flavors become rich and sounds are clear.

Somehow I’ve managed to learn his habits. There is no evidence in his itinerary, but the pattern of his journey seems familiar as if I were connected to his mind. He always goes few steps ahead though. I’m grateful to low hospitality, laziness of servants and indifference of the stuff. Their apathy leaves me chances to catch signs of his presence. It takes me some seconds to find out his table. Sometimes it happens that some brave hostess hastes to carry away proofs of the time he spent here. So I have no chance for careful examination. I need to act quickly. Once I have turned over the vase, another time I was so clumsy that I’ve crashed a glass. Mostly I pretend to drop something under the table and use the moment hostess tries to help me out to find the main clue and to hide it in the depth of my bag with the rest of the papers. I hope to return napkin book to its master if we ever meet, so it is accurately assembled story by story.

Today I’m not so lucky to find his way as fast as always. I had to do quite a long walk. I’ve popped with no effect in all quite venues he is supposed to like. I’m in a step to give up when I finally find out familiar set on the table in the depth of the bar. Tiny thread of smoke from the cigarette left smoldering rises to the ceiling. I dash to the entrance door. In a second I’m in the street peering into uneven silhouettes. It is so quite that I that I can hear light steps of the sober figure dissolving in the jaws of the dark. At least now I know he is tall.




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