He hated himself so much that moment. He was always having to say no to things he would have loved to do, even little things; Peter seemed to have a magic power of touch to make every scene perfect. The vision was perfect as he saw it in his mind and he saw it mirrored in Pete’s eyes across the table, but he had to say he couldn’t make it. He had to explain, that Martha was coming to have dinner with his family, that his folks had been insisting on it for a long, long time, that there had been no way of postponing it further. Pete was cross, he told Luke that he was just making things worse for everyone than they need to be, especially for himself. And besides it was a whole, huge loss of time. Then Luke had turned on the defensive mode and had been a jerk. That’s the problem with arguments; sooner or later someone makes the mistake of being a jerk and ruining everything. He hated it when they parted like that, angry. It really hurt. The silence, the silence was the worst, the tension hanging over a clouded horizon, the mess of not talking things through.
He had promised himself that that would never happen again. Never. But again he had failed. This new era in his life, University life, was supposed to leave no room for any of this; new life, new rules. That should mean an end to the old mistakes. Yet there he was again, acting in the same play, stumbling on the same lines with Pete. No room for it. That was not supposed to be happening. College.A new beginning.A life-changing experience that changed one’s life radically.Though it was not the experience that made the person, but the person who shaped the experience. “college” was a heavy word. Not a big word in the strict sense of the term, only two syllables long, but rich. “College” was a word chiseled by the discipline of serious academic pursuits, housed in a shell made of thirst for knowledge. It was a word that smelt of chocolate and hot coffee and it had the texture of old pages of medieval lore gathering dust in forgotten libraries. It had the scent of Aristotelian method coloured by hints of Marlowe, of Milton, of Dostoievsky and countless others.
Deeper thoughts shut off by need, as he approached the door of the building where they lived, he felt more and more amused at the prospect of watching their reaction at the news that Martha would not be able to come. Maybe as a means of self-defense, when he was to act he alienated his emotional, genuine side. When he arrived at the landing before the door to the flat, the Macbeth in him was not a tragic hero any longer, it was a farsic character enjoying his own show. So many times played, it was no longer a novelty. If Richard III might be thought of as farsic and burlesque in some ways, then perhaps Luke, on the landing, was Macbeth suffering a metamorphosis into Richard III.
He found them as he knew he would; his father, his aunt and his cousin, Stella. Cruella. It suited her. They were all waiting for Martha, even for the thinnest slice of Martha to devour with a seasoning of cynicism and venomous acuity, eagles turned vulture by habit. They had all been, though none of them knew it, in truth, waiting for Godot. No matter the sadness showed in that ironic pleasure, he felt a sort of mean excitement in realizing that those three sorry sods seemed quite an accurate impersonation of the hungry, hopeless, blind, trembling and stumbling tramps Estragon and Vladimir from Becket’s play Waiting for Godot. They were all quite well-fed, yet hungry for something more, like food was lost on them. He would have to confess that, in those unthinking first moments, though his presence on stage left him uncomfortable and reluctant in action, viewing such scenes from the perspective of the audience would have made up for an awesome comic evening. Just the thought of this Godot entering through that door was hilarious enough to make anyone fall from their seats. By the way, what would be the feminine form of Godot? Godotia? Sounded Shakespearean enough, he liked it.
Since he had first been acquainted with Becket’s play, he saw it’s characters everywhere; they seemed particularly apt for describing the people he saw in reality. Those Godots were not the real deal; but never mind that, Godot would not be coming today. Maybe he was not even on the way yet, maybe still with his luggage unpacked. And their reactions had been exactly as anticipated: father storming out through the door in order to return to the urgent business that was getting drunk; cousin sulking because there was no one for her to criticize or slander; aunt trying to conceal vicious thoughts in her filthy mind. Degradation and satire, the perfect Machiavellian comedy. Still waiting for Godot in the next act.
He had remained in the kitchen, waiting for the questioning that would no doubt be coming soon. Better get it over with, the sooner the better.
‘So, she couldn’t come, right?’ his aunt asked.
‘Do you…she does know she is welcome here, doesn’t she?’, how marvelous it was, what a great actress she would have made. Being Cruella and playing the role of sleeping Beauty was her specialty.
To be continued…
Tomás Ferreira (Get Real. culture editor)
This series, entitled “A Horse!” will be in 8 parts. This is part 7/8.