A Book Wrapped In Plastic

There was a table of three young men behind me at the YPF. First they were eating and then they were doing something on a laptop. It was something secretive because they turned the screen away so that I would not accidentally turn and see it.

Later the blond-haired one got up and bought a snack and as he came back he put his hand on my shoulder and he greeted me, smiling. We spoke and I noticed he laughed a little too quickly and easily. He asked me the usual questions I am asked in Argentina, but he did not seem especially interested in my answers.

I went back to my writing and it was going well and I was in the middle of something that I thought might still be good tomorrow when the young blond-haired again put his hand on my shoulder. He was smiling and handed me a thin paperback book wrapped in plastic. There was some poorly rendered image on the cover and I could see it was a religious book and I did not read the title but saw the subtitle. It translated as a book to solve your life problems.

“I cannot accept this gift,” I said to him.

He smiled at me knowingly. “No. It is for you. It will be the answer to your questions.”

“And if I am without questions?”

He smiled more broadly. “All have questions. The book shall answer them. The book shall solve your problems.”

“And if I am without problems either?”

“That cannot be,” he said most certainly.

I pointed to my fully loaded bicycle leaned up outside against the glass.

“Do you see the bicycle?” I asked him.

He nodded and continued to smile knowingly.

“Each day I ride from a place to another place. I sleep the night in a tent. I have food and water. I have money. My map is good. The wind is not a problem and nor is the rain, nor the cold. My body is strong and without malady.”

I paused. I wanted these words to have an effect upon him.

He was looking at me. I could see the smile had weakened just a little.

“I am without problems,” I said. “I do not understand the problems of others.”

I tried to hand the book back to him but he was not ready to take it.

“Then you must be unhappy in a way?” He said hopefully.

“Not at all. To ride a bike each day makes me more happy than I have ever been.”

“Then there is nothing wrong?” He was disappointed. The smile had gone.

“Everything is good.”

“Then you believe in God?” He smiled weakly.

“I do not.”

I handed the book wrapped in plastic to him and he took it this time. He wasn’t angry but I could see that my happiness had troubled him. He walked back to his table and sat down with the other two. Later the other two left and the blond-haired was alone.

I was readying to leave and thought I might try to talk to him. I felt a little bad about refusing his gift. I wanted to tell him about the time I had been unhappy because of a girl. I was sure that would please him. But that had not lasted long and girls did not trouble me at all now, and if they left me before I wanted them to go I was only pleasantly surprised. I could not tell him that. He would want to hear about continuing troubles and continuing unhappiness. But I did not have any of that. I looked in his direction, at the back of his blond-haired head. There was nothing to say to him. As I left the YPF I realized I was smiling.


  1. Anonymous17.2.11

    It is amazing how when one is experience life as it is meant to be experienced, all worries do go away. There are struggles and challenges, but no problems.

  2. one must be careful not to say too much about this form of life. a short story or a poem is maybe the only way to come at it.

    perhaps the word "amazing" does apply here.

    "We no longer have a sufficiently high estimate of ourselves when we communicate. Our true experiences are not garrulous. They could not communicate themselves if they wanted to: they lack words. We have already grown beyond whatever we have words for. In all talking there lies a grain of contempt. Speech, it seems, was devised only for the average, medium, communicable. The speaker has already vulgarized himself by speaking."

    Nietzsche--Expeditions of an Untimely Man §26

  3. Anonymous19.2.11

    On the move, constantly. No room for weariness.


Copyright © Moraline Free