Maker of Bastards

Maker of Bastards Maker of Bastards

Status: Finished

Genre: Humor

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Humor

Summary

This is a novelette about a a middle-aged man traveling all overt the world, on a quest to find a missing person. If I had to pick a genre to classify this work, other than humor, I would say it's a dark comedy.

Summary

This is a novelette about a a middle-aged man traveling all overt the world, on a quest to find a missing person. If I had to pick a genre to classify this work, other than humor, I would say it's a dark comedy.

Content

Submitted: February 27, 2014

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Content

Submitted: February 27, 2014

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“Maker of Bastards” (PART ONE)

A Short Story By: Sam Bartos

 

Chapter One

Today, I visit Paris.

The air smells fresh and the people seem kind enough, just like they are in every one of my popular destinations. Everybody always tells me that Paris is such a magical place. It’s a great place to find true love or just an amazing vacation site.

I have visited Paris before. I have seen everything there is to see. You name it and I’ve seen it. I’ve visited the Orsay museum, the Rodin museum, Basilica of Sacr-Cur, Arc de Triomphe, the whole shebang.

Today, I find Collete. This is my date for the evening. After all, when you tour as many places as I do, you sometimes realize it’s not as fun if you’re all alone. Usually, the isolated man with the video camera is the guy you might want to avoid. But that’s just my opinion.

My prime destination on this, the tenth trip to Paris, France, is the Eiffel tower, a sight I have seen many times before.

One interesting thing I discovered about traveling is how you always end up missing something. It’s impossible to do everything there is to do in just a single lifetime. One thing I have yet to do, even after visiting Paris ten times, is dining at Le Jules Verne. This is one of the restaurants of the Eiffel tower, of which there are two. The other one is Le 58 Tour Eiffel. This is on the first floor. It’s now time for me to ascend and climb the stair case to the second floor where Le Jules Verne is waiting for me. All my life, I heard nothing but great things about this place. It seems like the kind of thing that won’t end up becoming a giant disappointment.

I’m staying at the Hotel Mayfair, a four star boutique hotel that offers French and partisan-style rooms with fine dining, a decent mini-bar, and some very friendly French people.

I have with me a rather expensive bottle of Petrus Vintage. It cost me a grand from a winery I recently visited in Pomerol, Bordeax. When you have as much money as I do, you sometimes don’t know how to spend it. I often blow away my money on all sorts of crap I don’t need. Although, this is one fine bottle of red wine. It’s an opportunity I simply could not miss.

I visit Champ de Mars to see the Eiffel tower once more. As I pass people on the grass, I show them my photograph that I remove temporarily from my wallet. Nobody seems to be helpful. Nobody ever is. My quest remains unfulfilling, just like it always is.

The reason they call it Champ de Mars is because the literal translation is Campus Martius, the Roman God of war. The grassy area was originally used as a marching ground for the French military. Today, it is a popular place for tourists and camcorders. You use a camera to shoot people, just like with firearms. Consider this change a replacement of weapons. Cameras are the new guns after all; for this generation, anyway.

Here is where I meet Collete. She is pretty and has large gaping breasts. I fall in love with her, instantly. For the next twelve to twenty-four hours, she is my true love; my one and only.

She wears a cute purple tank-top and has long luxurious hair. She knows I’m an American. We start talking.

I tell her my name is Fred. I am from a little place in America called New York City. Maybe she’s heard of it. I am smooth with her and I make it seem like I don’t really even care if she has sex with me or not. Whatever. I could care less either way. She’s nothing to me; just some chick to talk to, so we don’t have to stand in silence while the French tour guide bends down to tie his shoe.

Collete asks me to tell her a little more about myself, so I do. I mention I grew up with four older brothers and that I had to wear hand-me-downs until I was fourteen years old. I mention my grandmother died of a brain tumor when I was eight. I tell her all about how ever since I got to visit the empire state building at age eight, I wanted to be an architect. I tell her that this is my first time visiting Paris, France, and that I am about to finally see the Eiffel tower for the first time. Lying is fun.

Obviously, Collete and I will have sex tonight. It’s not that I’m guessing or assuming. It’s simply a fact. The Eiffel tower was built in 1889 and is a cultural icon to the people of France and to the entire world, and Collete and I are doing it in the Hotel Mayfair tonight. These are facts. You need to learn this kind of stuff if you ever want to be a tour guide in France. Any tour guide who can’t remember how tall the Eiffel tower is, or why it’s called Champ de Mars, does not disserve to keep his job.

I don’t want to go off on any kind of tangent with Collete, because I need to seal the deal. So, I decide not to show her the photograph. I’m sure she wouldn’t be able to help me anyway. One day, somebody will come along and help me out, but until then, I’ll continue to be a mindless searcher on a boat that might just lead to nowhere.

Another super important thing you need to know if you’re a French tour guide is that the Eiffel tower is named for the Iron Lady and that it’s made of wrought iron. It’s also the most commonly visited monument in the entire world.

Depending where you’re coming from, the Eiffel tower is either 1,063 feet or 324 meters tall.

One thing now that comes to my mind is competition. Sometimes, the biggest dick really is the most important thing in life. Who can have sex with more women? Who can read more books? Watch more movies? If I had any siblings, I might have found this competition thing to be pretty addicting.

The reason as to why competition comes into my mind at this time, is because the Eiffel tower was once taller than the Washington monument and became the tallest man-made structure in the world. Then the Chrysler building in that city I pretend to come from became the tallest, when it was built in 1930. Then in 1957, the Eiffel tower gained a much-needed antenna and then it became taller than the Chrysler building. If only penis sizes worked this way. Then sibling rivalries could be more fun!

From 1889 to 1930, the Eiffel tower was the tallest tower in the world. For all this time, no one was to mess with this structure. It had the power, the respect, and everything else that comes with respect.

I hold my green camcorder and I pretend to be so incredibly fascinated with every single aspect of the tower, as Collete believes this is my first time seeing it. She looks so happy to see me experiencing such a new thing for the first time. I should’ve told her I was a virgin. That would help my case a lot; new to Paris; new to fornication; new to love. She would want to be with me forever. But then again, that’s not exactly what I want. Unless, of course, your definition of forever is until tomorrow when I leave Paris and never see Collete ever again.

As Collete and I pass through the first level and head upwards to level number two, I think about what it must have been like on March 30, 1889, the grand opening of the tower. People came and witnessed the tallest tower in the world. It must’ve been a sight to see. Now, it doesn’t mean much; not if you’ve known about it so long, and especially not if it’s your tenth of eleventh time seeing the godforsaken thing.

Before we leave, I ask Collete if she wouldn’t mind eating with me at Le Jules Verne on the second floor. She agrees to this and I treat her to a nice meal. Then I tell her I’m staying at the Hotel Mayfair. We take a cab over there and get drunk off my $1,000 bottle of red wine.

One-night-stands don’t make you a bad person. It’s when she’s drunk and you’re not. Right now, Collete is drunk, and so am I. I got a C in high school ethics, so I do know a little about ethics rules. Like how it might be considered unethical to not wear a condom during intercourse. Especially, since I told Collete I had a condom. Of course, I didn’t have a condom, but if I tell her that, then she might not have sex with me, and I don’t want to take that chance.

The next day, I pay my bill and leave the hotel without waking Collete.

I board an airplane and leave Paris to go elsewhere. I really do have a seemingly unlimited supply of money, so my occupation is traveling. I devote a life to seeing the world and traveling all over. I’ve been to Poland, Germany, Italy, Spain (which by the way all border France, just in case you wanted to hear a fun geography fact).

And I’ve been to a lot of other places. I’ve been to every single continent and most countries. I’ve visited every United state and I had sex with at least fifty chicks from these states. Maybe one day, I’ll discover something new; something worth discovering.

As I board the plane, the stewardess warns me I shouldn’t smoke. Sometimes, I don’t even notice the tobacco stick in my hand with all the smoke coming out of it. I put it out and apologize for the disruption. Smoking kills, but I don’t worry about that kind of thing. It’s a good stress reliever. Go ahead and laugh, but even people who devote their lives to vacation can get stressed out sometimes. Everybody’s human after all; even those of us with too much leisure time on our hands.

Cancer really doesn’t worry me after all. Although, I guess it could run in the family, since my fictional grandmother died of brain cancer. But that’s not real, so I think I’m in the clear.

It’s funny. There have been over two hundred million people at the Eiffel tower since March 30, 1889, and I bet at least half of those people never bothered to visit one of the fine restaurants the tower has to offer. Now, I can tell people I’ve been to both famous restaurants; not that I would tell anyone anything.

As the plane begins to soar over France, and I catch a glimpse of the Tour Montparnasse skyscraper right by the Eiffel tower and Champ de Mars, I realize I left my Petrus Vintage with Collete. This can be her gift. After all, I have a conscience and so it doesn’t always feel good to know I left women like Collete all alone without any sign of hope.

Sometimes, I stop and think about all my kids. I have so many of them; at least I think I do. Thank goodness for the women of the world who are pro-choice. These are the women I want to sleep with. They know what’s going on. Or maybe not. But at least if they find I left them a little more than a bottle of red wine (if you know what I mean), then they’ll know the only sensible thing to do would be to abort.

I think my next destination is Japan. They have great food over there. It’s crowded as hell, but it’s worth the trip. I can’t wait to get there. I check my wallet to make sure I didn’t lose the photograph. I didn’t. All is fine.

Chapter Two

You used to be so innocent; so closed; so uncertain of anything outside your cozy bubble.

As you biked along the thoroughfare of your quaint little town, you looked left and then right. It was a sunny day and the people around you looked so kind. You were eight years old and you enjoyed all that you knew.

As you biked past the bakery, the library where you read all those books about the world, the factory, the school, the small but decorative houses, you realized that there was life on the outside, but that this life might hold too many secrets you didn’t want revealed.

You got home to your mom and you asked her, “Mom, when’s dad coming back?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “He doesn’t really talk to me all that much, so I guess you’ll just have to wait and see, son.”

Your mom was a librarian and a part-time mom. Growing up was tough sometimes, because of this and the fact that your dad would rarely stop by to say hello. Whenever he did, he would bring you a t-shirt from Iowa or Montreal, or Connecticut, or Italy, and the text on the shirt would read the very location that it came from.

Sometimes, he would call you Mike. Sometimes, Jake. Sometimes, Jimmy. He would very rarely guess your name right. He didn’t know you very well. But at least, you weren’t alone. He didn’t know a lot of his kids. He would often get them confused.

Jake lived in Kentucky. Jimmy lived in Ireland. Mike lived somewhere in Canada. You never met them. You really never knew anything about them.

You wondered why you never got to leave; why your life was like a prison; why you had to be quarantined in this cozy little town for so long. Your entire life was a complete mystery, just like your father’s life.

One day, your father came home. He wore a hat and you could barely see his face. You never did remember your dad’s face very well. You asked him where has he been this time, and he tells you about all these wonderful places you only ever read about in books.

You never knew the man that well, but he was the only father you had, so it’s not like you had a choice. His gifts were treasures and his very presence was the greatest gift of all.

Whenever he would come over, your mom never wanted to look him in the eye. She avoided him always. Whenever he came over, you and he were buddies. Meanwhile, mom would just go hide up in her room, until dad was gone. The two of them were almost never in the same room at the same time. They were strangers to each other.

One day, your dad came back and brought you a hat from a place called Tokyo. You thanked him for the hat and then you asked him if he wanted to stay this time. He said he was sorry, but he had to go. Then you asked him if he could at least take you with him. He said no.

You told him you wanted to be just like him and travel the world. You told him about your boredom in your cozy little town. You told him you wanted him to take you with him; just once. Then, never again. You promise. You only want to go with him to one place and that’s it.

He told you never to think that way. Dependence and isolation is always better than seeing the scary world around you. He wanted you to remain innocent forever.

Then he said to you, “Well I’m off to Paris. Goodbye Fred- Wait- I mean. Uh. What is your name again?”

 

 

Chapter Three

Tokyo, Japan is tonight’s destination.

This is a large city and there’s always things to do; people to meet; women to bang. Even more than usual. After all, Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area in the world. Even I will never be able to experience everything it has to offer. But I can still try.

Somewhere in this vast land are ten women who hate me. Or- wait. Maybe eleven. I don’t remember exactly.

Fun fact: Tokyo was once a small fishing village named Edo, before becoming one of the largest and most economically successful cities in the world.

Even though there’s still some stuff I have yet to view, I will mostly be seeing what I’ve already seen before. Afterwards, I will slightly leave Tokyo and visit a site I have never before seen in my life.

When I arrive, I leave the airport and check into a hotel known as The Strings Tokyo. Kind of a lame name for a hotel, but it’s nice enough. There are three suites available upon my arrival and so I reserve one for just tonight. The more expensive, the better.

Women like a guy with a lot of money.

Fun fact: Tokyo is well known for being one of the three command centers of the world, economically. The other two are London and New York City.

Whenever I go up to people, I speak with a British accent. After all, I am from London, England, one of the other command centers. The other one, New York City, is where I’m from if I’m in Paris. However, tonight that is not the case. Tonight, I can’t stand the rubbish of American culture. Those Yanks won the revolutionary war two hundred or so years ago and they’re still gloating about it. Wankers.

Fun fact: a wanker is both an insult typically used by British people and a term that literally means: one who wanks, or masturbates. 

Tokyo has a lot of simple titles for their sites. For example, after checking in to The Strings Tokyo hotel, I visit a bar in Tokyo, so that I can get a drink, and sure enough the bar that is in Tokyo is called Tokyo Bar.

I imagine they have these simple titles for dumb tourists like the kind I used to be when I was a lot younger and barely traveled at all. Imagine the Americans who think going to Tokyo will be such a treat. It’s funny how wrong they are about that. Vacation is not the right word for this sort of visit. It’s extremely stressful when you don’t speak the language or understand the weird customs. For example, if you bump into someone, but don’t bow to them afterwards, you are being extremely impolite. Long story short: I learned this lesson the hard way many years ago. American tourists are the funniest, because they don’t know dick about politeness. Some of them barely even know the meaning of the word. So no, for these people, a trip to Japan is the furthest thing from how we typically define vacation in this day and age.

Fun fact: Vacation was once a word used in the United Kingdom that meant to visit a summer home during the summer break, thus leaving their original home temporarily “vacant”.

How do I know this? Well, like I said, I am from the UK. But not many people know that. One person who will know this lie as a truth soon enough is Minori. Get ready to laugh.

Fun fact: the Japanese meaning behind the name Minori is truth.

This is the name of the girl I will be lying to and sleeping with tonight. I see her at the bar. We get to talking. She doesn’t speak English. No problem. As a British traveling businessman, it’s my job to learn the language, so that I may communicate with investors of the land I am visiting for work. This, I tell Minori in Japanese. I speak it fluently.

Part of being a great liar is being a great actor.

And the other big part is simply knowing things. I come off as being a truly exceptional businessman from London, because I know so much about the culture and traditions of my supposed homeland of the UK.

I tell Minori I’ve traveled to Japan on business many times. At first, I wasn’t very fluent. Now I am. After all, a lot of time has passed.

Time is the greatest teacher of all; that and the knowledge itself.

I still think it’s hilarious that her name is Minori. Those Japanese bastards are such smug sons of bitches if you really think about it. They think they’re so great and that they’re the most ethical nation on Earth. After all, just look at what all these names mean.

Fun fact: Masumi means true lucidity.

Fun fact: Maki means true hope.

Fun fact: Jun means obedient.

Fun fact: Arisu means noble.

These are all women’s names by the way, and the reason why I bring them up is not random. They are just four of the ten or eleven women I have had one night stands with in this city. Yeah, I get it. They’re ethical and I’m not. They’re angels and I’m the devil. Whatever.

Now, it’s Minori’s (truth’s) turn. She is gonna hate me. Speaking of which, in the middle of my sex-steering conversation with her, a finger taps my back. I turn around and see that this is someone I know.

But I’m relieved. It’s not one of the women who I slept with and then abandoned. It’s just Steve.

“Hey Stan, my man! What is up? Been a while.”

I hold up my right index finger to Minori. Even Japanese people with their crazy unique customs know of the universal index finger holding up custom that symbolizes the fact that I have to leave for a moment, but will be back. Needless to say, I will not repeat the custom a second time tomorrow morning when I’m finished with her. My apologies, of course.

So I leave her for just a moment and begin speaking, not in a British accent, not in Japanese, but in American English. After all, my name is Stan and I am from Los Angeles, California. Coincidently, so is Steve.

Steve, like me, likes to travel, whenever he can. To make money and continue traveling, he likes to get jobs as being tour guides all over the world. He also has a job as a stewardess on airplanes. He got that job easily, as his older brother, Lou, is an airplane pilot and therefore has a lot of credibility in that field.

These are all true facts. Trust me. I know. I can always tell when someone is lying.

I tell him I do what he does, except that I don’t have to get those kinds of jobs. I also travel all over the world, but when I was a little kid, I got hit by a crazy drunk driver. I had a few broken bones, but eventually got better. The good news that came out of all that was that I got a huge settlement: Seven figures! I’ve been using that money to travel ever since and I still have enough today.

This lie is actually fairly similar to what my situation actually is. It’s not, mind you. It’s just similar is all. I figure, I might as well tell Steve this kind of thing, since I may end up seeing him in more places than just one. Ironically, the only other time I ever ran into him was in Tokyo Japan. It was my fifth time visiting and I told him it was my first time. He said he had been there many times before and was working as a tour guide. Naturally, out of the kindness of his heart, he showed me around for free. He must have thought I was a nice guy is all. Good honest smile.

He showed me all kinds of sights that I had actually seen a few times already. Still, I showed a strong amount of interest, as if I had been seeing it all for the first time. He showed me the Rainbow bridge. He showed me the Tokyo Tower. He showed me the bank of Japan, The Sunshine 60 Observatory, the Marunouchi building, the National Diet Building, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office.

Fun fact: Tokyo is well known for being one of the three command centers of the world, economically. The other two are- Wait a minute. Never mind. You already know this. I guess now you know how I feel when someone tells me something I already know. Still reruns aren’t so awful. I’ve certainly learned to live with them.

“Oh so anyway buddy,” Steve says. “Enjoying the sites?”

I tell him I am.

“Great.” He looks over at Minori. “Well, I can see you’re pretty busy, so I won’t take up too much of your time. Give me a call if you wanna hang out while you’re in town.”

I tell him I’ll see if I can, but I do have kind of a tight schedule, so no promises.

There are many people like Steve. Not in the sense that I know a lot of travelers. Just in the sense that I am a traveler and therefore know a lot of people from all over. It’s not just the women who I have sex with. There’s lots of people I know.

Speaking of sex, I return to see Minori. We talk a little more. Then I say I have to go to the bathroom. Secretly, I am actually going up to people on the other side of the bar. I go up to one guy, bow as he bows back. Then I show him the photograph I take out of my pocket. He shakes his head and I move on to another person. I do this a few more times.

On these trips, I do this sort of thing a lot. And yet I am never successful. The world is just too big a place. But that doesn’t stop me. I’m not a quitter. Speaking of which, I light my cigarette and inhale. It’s okay. Smoking is allowed in the Tokyo Bar. Like I said, I don’t quit anything. I find quitters to be rather lame. That’s why I smoke. Well, at least that’s one reason. People are always asking me why I don’t just quit the habit. I usually tell them that sure the cigarettes are slowly killing me, but another thing that slowly kills everyone is life itself. Life, after all, is a quest, a journey, an adventure, a series of travels, to death. That will be my final destination. Paris, Japan, Mexico, Argentina, Taiwan, Vietnam, Mongolia, Somalia, Death. Endgame.

Also, let’s not forget I like to have lots of unprotected sex with a lot of strange women. I’m sure I have quite a wide variety of sexual diseases. But it’s not like I’m getting any younger. I don’t know when that last destination will come, but when it does, I’ll be fine with it.

Sometimes, I feel like every word that comes out of my mouth is a lie.

After “going to the bathroom” I return to Minori and talk and go back to The Strings Tokyo and have unprotected sex and sleep and then it’s morning and I leave her forever.

Now, for that place I’ve never seen before. This should be exciting. I’ve been to Mount Fuji. I’ve been to Mount Tate. Today, I am visiting Mount Haku, the third of Japan’s legendary “Three holy mountains”.

This mountain is what the experts call a “potentially active volcano”.

Don’t worry. It is believed that it was first active 400,000 years ago. Later, in 1659, it erupted yet again. Since then, nothing. Still, maybe we’re due for a new one any day now.

Not that I’m depressed or suicidal or anything like that. I just like a little action in my life. Traveling all over the world definitely helps make life interesting, but still, the more dangerous, the better.

If you’re not living life on the edge, what’s the point of living life at all?

I’m wondering what the best hiking trail should be. My options are as follows: The Kanko trail, the Sabo trail, and the Hirase trail. These are the recommended trails. The recommended paths. In the end, rather than making a decision to follow one of the recommended paths, I choose to follow my own. I think it’s always better to create your own destiny, rather than just following others. Leaders are always better than followers. I am a leader. Not a follower.

Lies.

There’s plenty of rough terrain here, so it is believed that not following one of the suggested trails can cause a hike to take up to three days. Sure enough, the one I take does in fact last for almost that long a time.

Good thing I brought some snacks. Survival is always a good thing.

That and happiness.

Afterwards, I run into a man and a woman: Bruce and Ida. They’re in their fifties and are vacationing here from America. They ask me what path I took.

I tell them they don’t want to take my path. It might seem great, but it’s not. It’s full of disappointment, boredom, frustration, pain, and suffering.

Bruce asks, “Is that the Kanko or the Sabo?”

Ida says, “No, it’s gotta be the Hirase. That must be what he’s talking about.”

Bruce says, “Well, I guess as long as it doesn’t erupt, whatever path we take will be just fine.”

I say it hasn’t erupted in over three hundred years.

“Are you a tour guide?” asks Ida.

I say no.

“Where are you from?” asks Bruce.

I tell them my name is Paul and I’m a freelance journalist from Canada. I have an older sister named Becky. When I was a kid, I wanted to learn to play the clarinet. My dad died in a skiing accident when I was in college- oh and speaking of which…

I take out the photograph and hand it to them. A second after they take a glimpse of it, I take it from them and say oh you haven’t seen this person. Well then big surprise. Thanks for all your help. You’re so damn helpful. No, you haven’t seen him. No, you don’t know who he is. No, I’ve failed again. No, no, no, no, no.

Fun fact: In the 20th century, Tokyo suffered two major tragedies: The 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake disaster and World War II.

But sure enough, for the first time ever I’m wrong!

“Yes,” Bruce says. “I remember this man. We met him in India, remember hun?”

Fun fact: 140,000 people lost their lives in that Kanto earthquake.

Fun fact: Probably the greatest fun fact I’ve had in a long time: I know where my father might be.

Chapter Four

You had it all. Nothing. Now, you have nothing. Everything. Who are you? Everyone, no one. Who were you? You were you. Someone who was someone. A single person with a single identity. What screwed it all up? Take a look and find out.

You were eight when your father called you Fred.

Then you were eleven when your father returned again and called you Paul. “I finally got it right,” he said with joy in his eyes.

Nope, you would say. But close enough, right?

He gave you that t-shirt from Michigan; he gave you that hat from Mississippi; he gave you that snow-globe from Toronto, Canada.

He gave all his children these gifts.

All your siblings.

You must have hundreds of them. Just like a bug.

And yet, you’ve never met any of them before. But they’re out there, puttering about.

One day, you went to school. There, your fifth grade teacher asked if the students could recite, one by one, any place they’ve ever vacationed to. The more interesting the better.

These were the days, when you were starting to get so many clothes from these tour sites, that you barely wore anything else. Every day, you were either wearing a shirt with big letters reading, “Montana” or a shirt that said, “Everything’s bigger in Texas” or a shirt that said, “I visited the nation of Brazil and all I got was this stupid T-shirt!”

You never really said anything about the shirts. You kind of just wore them. People rarely asked, but after a while, it started to become apparent that you were clearly some kind of big traveler who went all over the world. You didn’t have to tell people this. They could read you like a book, simply by literally reading your shirts.

You were an open book.

And you were a lie.

On that day, everybody figured you out for real. The truth was shocking, but it was out. Timmy said the coolest place he ever visited was Massachusetts. Blanca said she went to Ireland last year with her folks. Vince said he went to see some relatives in Montreal, just last weekend. As he said, it was a lot of fun.

When it was your turn to speak, what could you say? What did you say? You pretty much just shrugged and said, “Here.”

It seemed like this was always going to be the answer to that question: “What’s the coolest place you’ve ever traveled to?”

“Here, here, here, and once again here.”

That’s it.

Everybody was confused. Then, they kind of just hated you for lying to them. Of course, you didn’t actually lie. They just chose to believe the falsity. You didn’t choose for them.

But then there was one kid who didn’t hate you. In fact, she actually really liked you.

Laura.

The only girl you’ve ever truly loved.

“I don’t mind that you’ve never been anywhere,” she said to you once. “Except, what I don’t get is why do you wear those shirts, if they’re lies?”

“My shirts don’t define me,” you would say. “It’s what’s inside that matters.”

Chapter Five

I don’t live in a single house. I don’t live in a single apartment or a mansion or an RV or any single place. I live in the only plural home I’ve ever wanted to live in: my father’s shadow. And that takes place everywhere.

Today, that place is India.

This is more of a treat than usual.

Usually, what happens is I take out a globe, spin it as fast as I can and throw a dart. Where it lands, that’s where I’m headed. Australia, Antarctica, Iran, Iraq, China, Cuba, Wyoming, it really doesn’t matter. If it’s on the Earth, it has a chance of me traveling there.

Some of the places I am unable to travel to include: the moon, the sun, any of the other planets in the solar system, back in time, to another dimension, over the rainbow, neverland, or the emerald city.

Sometimes you have to set limits for yourself.

My traveling can only occur within the bounds of true reality.

Uniquely, that whole globe treatment is not the motivation for this trip. Unlike usual, I’m taking this trip because for the first time in my journey to everywhere, I have a real lead.

For so many years now, I have been searching desperately for my father, trying to find him. He went missing when I was still a kid.

Like father like son.

Now, I was doing like he was doing. I was traveling like he was traveling. At first, it was to find him. Then, it was to be like him. Years passed and no matter how many people I showed that picture to, I never got any leads. After a while, I didn’t even know why I was doing this anymore. I guess I was just trying to see as much as possible before inevitably dying early of either cigarette smoking or STDs.

I went from traveling to find him, to traveling to be like him, to travelling for who the hell knows why, to now. Now, things had changed.

Full circle.

Now, I am again trying to find my father, like before. Because now I have an actual lead. Of course, I do have this idea in my head that maybe this lead is fake and maybe it won’t get me anywhere. But still, whether or not this is a phantom lead, it’s still more hope than any I’ve ever gotten before.

Here in India, there’s no time for screwing around. At least, not at first. The first thing I need to do is find my next clue. Afterwards, I’ll probably see the sights and do my one night stand thing. If, however, that hint I got in Japan was a dud and I’m not actually going anywhere, then I’ll still see some sights and have a one-night-stand. I’ll just, throw the dart afterwards and continue into oblivion.

Now, let’s get crackn!

Off the plane and out of the airport, I find myself in the utter hell-hole known as the city of Mumbai. Usually, I don’t find much to complain about when I travel, or at least the things I do complain about are usually just me bitching over nothing.

Self reflection.

But still, Mumbai is considered a hell-hole to me. In fact, usually when I throw the dart, if it lands on Mumbai, I try again. I don’t even try again when it lands on something like Iran or Somalia. That’s how much I can’t stand Mumbai.

It’s the people.

I’m not saying I have any kind of major problem with people. I’m just saying in Mumbai, there’s so many god damn people. There’s just so many of them! It’s literally hard to breathe, because there’s so many people, that I honestly feel like they’re hogging all the oxygen!

For some reason, whenever I think of India, I think of statistics.

For example, in terms of population, India is the second largest populated country in the world, with over 1.2 billion people. (China is in first place with 1.35 billion. But then again who cares about China. Communists don’t count).

Now, here’s a more specific example for my purposes: Mumbai is the most populous city in India and the fourth most populous city in the entire world. Its population is twenty and a half million people (for a single city!)

It kind of pisses me off.

I move through a large crowd of people. I don’t like this. I keep going until I get to a man’s shop. The man has a moustache, short blackish hair and wears a white button-down shirt. This is the guy. I go up to him and say, Sachchit?

He yells out in Hindi, “Anyone want to buy? Anyone? Anyone want to buy?”

I move in closer and whisper, are you the one they call Sachchit?

“My name is Sachchit, yes? Who is interested?”

I stop speaking in Hindi for a moment and say I am an American and I am exhausted and that it would very much comfort me to speak English for the time being.

Luckily, he speaks English. I tell him my name is Michael, of Albert, or Luke, or whatever. It doesn’t even really matter anyway. The point of my visiting him is what I ask him next.

Here’s another stat fact: Mumbai generates 5% of India’s GDP.

Here’s another one: Mumbai generates 25% of India’s industrial output.

Here’s one more: Mumbai generates 70% of capital transactions to India’s economy.

Sanchchit stares at me with confusion as I scramble to come up with a name; a character; an identity. He doesn’t think I’m real. He can see right through me. But he doesn’t care all that much. I also don’t care so much about how he sees me. All I want from him is a little information.

All stat facts aside, there exists a fun fact about the name Sachchit. Like many Indian names, Sanchchit is named for a God. If you thought the Japanese were conceded with their super-duper ethical meanings in their identities, then wrap your mind around this: Indians see themselves as Gods!

The meaning of Sanchchit is the Lord Brahma, one of the three Gods of Trimurti. This is a Hindu concept of how creation and destruction are as they are. Sanchchit or the Lord Brahma is the creator. Vishnu is the maintainer. Shiva is the destroyer. This concept is also often called the Hindu Triad. Many Indian people have names like these. Maybe they have the right idea. After all, your name is your title, your cover, a little taste of who you truly are. Which are you? Are you a Vishnu; a maintainer; a boring guy who kind of just keeps things the way they are and that’s it? Or maybe you’re a Shiva; a destroyer. The kind of guy who doesn’t give, but rather takes away.

Then there’s Sanchchit; the Lord Brahma; the creator; and the guy who has something for me. Information. An answer?

Here, he will do one of three things. He might give me some information that will allow my journey to continue. In other words, he might allow me to keep things the way they are.

Liar.

Or he might not have anything for me. He will allow me to go back to what I was doing before: Mindlessly walking the Earth without an identity like a ghost until I really become one and inevitably drop dead: Shiva.

Liar.

Or maybe he will be true to his name and give me something new. My journey won’t continue like it was before. It will reach a new level. Maybe one of these things he is selling isn’t just awful Indian food that will give me horrible diarrhea. Maybe he’s got my father somewhere in that shop cart. Maybe he will create a new lease on life for me. Something totally new.

Will he be true?

The answer is no. But that isn’t all bad. Our beloved Sanchchit is being less of a Brahma, but more of a Vishnu. He’s letting me continue my wild goose chase rather than having to put a dent in it and continue aimlessly wandering the Earth.

Before we go any further, let me first explain how it came to this.

Back in Japan, upon running into Bruce and Ida, I was told that they had seen my father while vacationing in India ten years ago. Bruce never forgets a face. Ida was a little more hesitant after viewing the photograph and squinting, so I mostly relied on Bruce for information.

He went on to say that they had run into him, a tour guide, who was offering to show them around. It was Sanchchit who halted them. He said that my father was a crook and a thief and that he had no money. He said my father was poor and had been living in India as a homeless man for months. He said my father tried to steal from his shop. He said he can’t be trusted. That’s when my father decided to grab Ida’s purse and run off with it. Sanchchit tried to chase him down, but my father was too quick for him. He got away.

That’s how Bruce and Ida knew my father and Sanchchit. They told me he was the man to see. They told me I would find him somewhere in the center of Mumbai, India and that when they visited, they ran into him a few times and he was always wearing that dirty, white button-down shirt. Luckily, for me, I was able to notice him as well. This place is so damn over-populated, so yes. Luck is the perfect word to describe my finding him.

Even though ten years had gone by, since Sanchchit chased down my father, he was still in the same place as before. The same place for ten whole years. Perhaps, ten years later, he will still be there. He doesn’t create. He doesn’t destroy. He simply stays the same.

Sanchchit, the photograph.

Sanchchit, a lie.

They really should have named him Vishnu. It would have made a lot more sense.

Anyway, I show him my photograph and he tells me about how he hated my father. Next, he tells me what I need to know to keep the wild goose chase going. He says he spoke to my father one time when he noticed him sleeping under a tarp a few feet away from his shop. He asks him how did it come to this? The response is: “I come from Africa. That’s where I lost it all. That’s where I lost what was left of my money.”

Stat fact: the households of Mumbai will rise to 6.6 million by the year 2020.

But that’s not important anymore. What is important is that I’m headed to Africa.

Chapter Six

You met Laura when you were eleven. You liked her. She soon became your closest friend. As the years went by and you turned fourteen, you realized you hadn’t seen your father since that time he returned and got you that shirt with the Texas joke on it. It was around the time when everyone in school learned your shirts covering your chest were all lies.

You told Laura all about him; how great he was; how he would always get you cool stuff from the places he visited; how you idolized him; how he told you never to become him, but how silly that was, because of course you were going to become him. He’s your dad after all.

Obviously, it’s more important to become him than it is to listen to him. Idolizing triumphs over following the rules.

Some rules are meant to be broken.

You told Laura how great your father was; how everything he said was like a fountain of information, meant to be greatly cherished.

Laura said he sounded fake. She said he seemed like a bad dad. She would say, “What kind of father goes on trips so much that his son goes days, weeks, months, sometimes even years without seeing him? I don’t mean to hurt you here, but he seems like a lost cause.”

You liked Laura a lot. In fact, you later realized you were in love with her. She was your closest friend. Your only friend, really. Still, you defended him to her. You would defend him to anybody who told you he wasn’t a good father.

He may have his flaws, but sometimes people have weaknesses.

He once bought you a hat he got from a gift shop in New Hampshire. The hat is what defined him best, in your eyes. It read, “Pobody’s Nerfect.”

This was your father. Imperfect. Then again, we’re all imperfect. To be human is to not be perfect. That’s the big human rule.

She told you, “You haven’t even seen him in years. Odds are he never comes back.”

You told her to shut her mouth and that he will come back. He’s gotta come back and then, you would say, I’ll shove it right in your face!

And who could believe it. You were actually right. A few weeks after that, your father actually came back and you actually did shove it in Laura’s face. She said, “Fair enough. I was wrong. But your love for him is wrong as well. I know he’s your dad and all, but still. He’s gonna leave again and you’re gonna be sad again. Then maybe he’ll come back. Maybe. But the fact remains, it’s a vicious cycle.”

“Dad!” you would yell with joy, like it was Christmas morning.

“Son-“ he would start to say before getting interrupted by your innocence.

“-Oh we totally have to do father-son type stuff. Like- uh. Let’s go fishing! Or hunting! Or camping! Or whatever. Anything. See a movie. Whatever. Let’s just go! Right now! Come on!”

And then he finished what he was going to say. “Son,” he started again. “I’m leaving. Only this time, I’m not coming back. I’m leaving you forever. Bye.”

You were heartbroken and thunderstruck. Yet, you still loved your father and prayed he would return. But still scared, dependent, and conditioned not to travel, you weren’t ready to go looking for him. Push did not come to shove. Not yet anyway.

In addition to that, there were those final words your father ever said to you, right before he was out the door: “Remember son. Never search for me.” Then he was gone.

Into oblivion.  

 


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