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THE WORST THING I EVER DID

II

The street was as quiet as every Sunday morning. Almost no traffic, which allowed me to skate over the asphalt, thus avoiding the irregularities of the sidewalk caused by the roots of the ash trees and the euphoric barking of the neighboring dogs that always managed to startle me from behind the bars like those horror maze actors. Speed on my wheels, wind on my face, Rock & Roll in my ears, the right amount of sunshine filtering through the swaying tree leaves, life was good. The combination of speed and music is one of the many formulas of the sublime. It rarely fails.  

 

I love the fruit market with its chaotic equilibrium. Any vestige of a world inhabited by humans that actually interact with each other is to be cherished. A couple of coins got me a tangerine. The generosity of the fruit-man got me a second one. “Thanks man!”. Inadvertently, I started greeting more strangers than usual. Generosity snowballs. But then again, so does its opposite. 

I stopped by the stand that sold house goods in search of the roach killer. I picked it up and held it for a couple of seconds. The label was so graphic... “poor suckers” I thought out loud. I put the roach killer back in its place and decided to clean the kitchen better. I completed my shopping list. I was pleased with the clemency I had shown to roaches. This little act of kindness gave me such rejoice that it felt as an epiphany. I came up with a new motto for myself. “From now on, I shall be merciful”.

 

I headed back home in my skate, roach-killer-less, holding some bags that contained some food. As I was about to cross the corner of two usually tranquil streets, some idiot in a car made a left turn without paying any attention to his surroundings. He would have run over me had I not threw myself to the ground to avoid the imminent crash. The skateboard did not have the same the luck. It got cracked in two. The car kept on going as if nothing had happened. My blood boiled. My motto vanished. For a few seconds I could have killed the driver with my bare hands had I had the chance. I cursed to the wind. I sat there in the curb contemplating my options. But there weren’t any. Accept it. Forgive it. “Sorry, can’t. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”. A minute went by. I cooled down a bit. 

 

I picked up the two halves of the board and walked back home. I imagined alternative scenarios of how the story could have ended. None satisfied me. On most of them I ended up in jail. I needed to find a philosophical loophole to put my mind at ease. 

After spinning things in my head for a bit, it occurred to me that the idiot who broke my skate was nothing but a necessary evil to make life interesting, for what does a world without assholes look like? What would happen if everyone behaved in considerate and respectful manner? I concluded in that moment, perhaps if only make sense of my misfortune, that some level of misbehavior was an essential part of life.

 

I didn’t do anything too interesting in the rest of the day. Some days go to waste. I thought about the car that broke my skateboard at various times, and each time I’d feel the same anger I did the first time. Why do we choose to re-live these moments again and again when nothing good comes out of it? 

I went to bed early out of pure boredom.  

 

2 A.M. The car alarm again. I tried to ignore it, but I couldn’t. I looked out the window. There it was, just laughing at me. First, a car destroyed my skate and now this fucker doesn’t let me sleep. I had reached my limit. I put my hoodie on and a pair of flip flops, took one of the skateboard halves, and went out to confront the screaming bastard. I swinged the board at the car mirror and broke it. The alarm didn’t stop of course, why would it. I heard a “Hey!” from behind. “Hey! What are you doing?!” a passer by shouted. “Alarm! alarm!” I replied, I got too nervous to elaborate a coherent phrase. I knew I fucked up. I went back to my place almost running and with my heart pounding. 

 

I felt terrible. “What have I done?”. It was so unlike me to do such a thing. Then I became paranoid, there was at least one witness to my crime. I verified that I had locked the door and turned off all the lights in the apartment. I went to bed. I didn’t even notice if the alarm was still ringing or not, all my focus was divided between guilt and fear that the cops would show up at my door. Hours passed. Nothing happened. I fell asleep. 

 

On the next morning the car was gone. That day I was still somewhat paranoid, but I figured that the worst part had passed. They probably saw the broken mirror and assumed it was an accident. I got away with it. Still, I couldn’t shake off the feeling of guilt. I didn’t wanna be the kind of person who would smash another person’s car mirror. But I was. I most certainly was. 

 

Later that evening, I looked through the window and saw the car parked in almost the same spot as the day before. The mirror was fixed. I wondered if they had fixed the alarm too. “Guess we’ll find out soon” I thought. 

 

That night the alarm didn’t go off. I slept uninterruptedly for the first time in days. For all my guilt, the fact of the matter was that, in practice, thanks to my smashing of the mirror, the alarm was fixed. I had mixed feelings. It felt like I was learning the wrong lesson. I wanted to learn that there was no excuse for my behavior. But real life doesn’t work like that. Real life is messy. Sometimes people will give you tangerines for free. Sometimes they’ll run over your skateboard. Sometimes you’ll smash a mirror and get away with it. If there was something to be learned, it was the awareness that I too am capable of violence under the right circumstances. One must know the beast one’s dealing with if one is to control it. Yup, that was the lesson.

 

I went to the bathroom to wash my teeth. A little roach had made its way into it and was walking nonchalantly over my toothbrush. I washed it off. Mental note: “Buy roach killer. Buy toothbrush”.

Appreciate it!

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