We drove for about three hours after that. I didn’t have any idea of where he was taking me, but I was sure things were going to end badly. Have I ever told you about Aliena? I don’t think I have. Aliena was the name of a girl I met when I was sixteen. She was young, sweet, beautiful, rebellious. Everything you wanted her to be, she was. She had one of those faces, she’d say. But mostly, she was bad news for me, and for anyone else around. Like most, I immediately fell for her. And for no reason at that – I mean, I barely knew her, she had said hi to me a couple of times here and there, but that was the end of it. It took me a long time but I eventually managed to know the places she liked to go to, where she liked to drink her green tea, those kinds of things. My plan was simple enough : get there, don’t make a fool of myself, and obviously willingly bump into her pretending it was an accident. It was around that however that I began to realize that my life had four rules that I can’t ignore. But I’ll come back to that in a moment.
I stepped inside the tearoom and in a move bumped into her. I hadn’t taken the hot into account, and it boiled over her stomach for a good three minutes before I could say something understanble. I apologized and turned red for the rest of that evening, but part of the mission was accomplished. I offered her a new tea, and offered to offer a new shirt. She politely refused, but said that I could make it up to her by buying her another cup of tea the next day. Everything felt like it was falling into place, and I for one thought that I had mastered the other sex. I was sixteen, what did I know? We met at the tearoom the next day, and several others after that. People weren’t talking about us, there were no rumours, which really pleased me. Quickly I began to think that I had Aliena all figured out, that she was a false loner, all in all a shy girl, with a shy smile. One night we went to the movies together, and I tried to pull my moves but it didn’t really take. I played it cool and walked her back after the movie had ended, and we stepped in front of a jeweller. She leaned forward and glanced at the diamond, I didn’t say anything.
“One day, I’ll have one of those.”
“I don’t see no reason why you wouldn’t.”
“You’ll get me one.”
“Oh I totally would.”
“I don’t know.”
“So you wouldn’t.”
“I didn’t say that.”
And just like that, I got tricked. Aliena was the first and the last to get the best of me so simply. I felt I had to, and I kind of really had to anyway. I had something to prove to her, something to prove to the world, to me. I dared her to say one more time that I wouldn’t, and told her that she’d be surprised at what I could do. One day, she said. One day.
Later that night, I drank a little bit of the old man’s bourbon. I had a really bad feeling about this, but I had read that hard liquor gave you courage, but I missed the part where it says it slows down your brains. I was sixteen, I didn’t have much of it to begin with. So I went back to the jewelry, grabbed the hammer that I had borrowed from the shed, and broke the window. Living in a small town, I thought, must make it easy for robbers. No cameras, not a lot of police officers, I should be in and out in no time. As it turns out, I quickly got it – or was taken in rather, and only got out several months later. Aliena, I thought, as I sat in the backseat with my hands cuffed, I should have known better.
That bad feeling I have experienced several times afterwards, and I’ve always called it Aliena. It really is a funny thing to see how people can affect you, even years after you’ve met them. Aliena was the only thing I could think about as the car made turns left and right and I was bounced and flung in my seat. By the window I could see nothing more than the landscape, hills and green deserts, what looked like some cows and sheeps running amuck out there, probably escaping their own life too. He breathed heavily, as if driving there required a tremendous physical effort – I thought I could surprise him, gain the upper hand quite easy, the only thing I had to do was to wait for my moment. Suddenly, he began to slow down, then stopped the car altogether. We had reached our destination, and yet nothing seemed to be around. I looked on all sides, and it seemed we had parked in a huge circle, were grass and flowers wouldn’t dare growing. A perfect circle of inanimate life, I thought.
“We’re here”, he said.
He made me get out of the car, and kicked me in the knees. I buckled and fell down hard, my head hitting the hot, rough ground. What is it with everyone and kicks? I thought. Why do they always have to kick me? Why? I heard a noise that I knew all too well, and prefered not to look up.
“I told you, I have no earthly idea of where she is. None.”
He hit me once with the gun and my left ear began buzzing. I think blood started to drip down from my forehead too, or perhaps this only came later.
“I know you know where she is. I’ve seen you together! Now you better tell the truth or…”
“Or what? ” I tried to interrupt, though knowing what would come afterwards.
“Or you’re not leaving this place.”
“You won’t do it” I said.
“Don’t tempt me.”
There are people in life you like, others you love. Some, at times, you do not care for. And a few, more often than you would like to admit, you hate. The reasons are varied, and many of them not quite justifiable, but it doesn’t change the facts. You hate them, and you know you’re right to. We both hated each other, and we knew we were god awfully right to. But for some reason, we understood each other, and I managed to know that I was not exactly telling the truth.
“I’ve seen her, yes. But I have no idea where she went; that’s the truth” I said.
“Don’t fuck with me” he said.
He was becoming restless again, I thought he probably missed a dose.
“Even before she … she left me, you and her. All the time. You and her. You think I don’t know. Oh I know, trust me, I know.”
“This doesn’t make any sense, we …”
“Shut up!” he yelled.
I did, and the vastness of the land echoed his cry. There was something amusing in echoes, it was as though you were travelling through time constantly for a bunch of time. And if I could have been travelling through time at that moment, Hitler would already be dead. But realistically, Hitler was dead already, though it came a bit too late, and I was in the position to join him. Nobody was around to save me, to care about me. I had no friends, no family, not even a reliable acquaintance. I liked my freedom, and I liked to be alone, and I paid for it.
“She never liked you anyway” I said.
He didn’t respond, nor did he move at the sound of that.
“She never gave herself to you fully, it was all pretense. You should know. And you should also know that I have no idea where she is right now.”
“You and her …? You? You”
“You what?” I said.
“Made love to her?!” he asked.
“Made love? Absolutely not.”
His facial expression showed the relief he was feeling quite openly, and I gathered that his obsession for her hadn’t changed over all these years. I went on and sent the last jab.
“No, we simply fucked”.
At that, he flipped out and threw himself at my lapels. He punched me right in the nose, and pushed me so hard that I fell onto the ground. He drew up the gun, pointed it at my foreheard.
“You better tell me where she is, and now. You help me, you get out alive.”
Aliena, I thought, Aliena.
“There are no strings on me.”