By Monica Paul
It was a very dark night, it was about to rain, the thunder could be listened in the distance, and the wind smelled like wet dirt.
“Let’s cut through the ally sweet heart.” Said Elissa to Alberto, her husband.
They were walking back home from the movies, they didn’t know the fatal destiny waiting for them in that ally.
“Are you sure?” asked Alberto taking her hand. “It’s very dark in there.”
Elissa squeezed Alberto’s hand. “Yes! If we walk fast I will be ok; let’s go, before the rain starts!”
The couple turned right to take the shortcut through the ally, but before getting to the other side, a man stopped them. He was very tall and held a razor in his hand; another man came out of the darkness and stood behind Elissa taking her by the neck and arms.
“Your wallet! Fast! I’ll kill her!” Exclaimed the thief.
Alberto took out his wallet, he was shaking. “Here you have. Don’t hurt her please!”
“Your watch and cell phone also… Now! We don’t have your damn time.”
The man standing at Elissa’s back took her handbag.
The police patrol’s tower illuminated the ally.
“Shut up! Shouted the thief to Elissa. “Shut up or you’re death.”
The rain was falling hard on them. Two policemen came out of the patrol.
“Stop! Police!” Exclaimed one of them.
The thief pushed Elissa against the wall and ran away; the other one had Alberto by his neck.
“Let’s go!” Shouted the thief while running away.
The thief opened Alberto’s neck from side to side and ran away. I loud noise like a thunder sounded, and the thief fell down.
Both men bodies laid down on the floor, they were in a blood pool that looked bigger due to the water on the floor and the hard rain.
Elissa ran to Alberto, his opened neck was bleeding and she could not stop it, he died in her arms. The other man was not moving at all, he had a bullet in his head, but he was still alive.
An ambulance arrived, Alberto was already dead, and nothing could be done. Damian, that was the thief’s name, was taken to the hospital and straight to the surgery room. They took the bullet out of his brain and waited.
“You are wasting your time… this man won’t wake up.” Said doctor Bessa standing by Damian’s room.
“I’m just doing my work doctor.” Replied the policeman guarding the door.
“I understand, but this man is a vegetable, his mind is dead. And… by the way, I need to have talk with your boss about this.”
“Ok, doctor, I’m just doing work and keeping my job. Lieutenant Carter is coming this afternoon doctor.”
Doctor Bessa nodded to the cop, he walked inside the room and closed the door.
Damian was there laying in the bed, with his head bandaged, Doctor Bessa checked on him, everything was apparently okay, just that he wouldn’t wake up.
“They guard you as if you were going to escape Damian.” Said Doctor Bessa with a plain tone while he was checking Damian’s pulse and history on the breathing machine. “Mhh… You are breathing by yourself, is this a recovering sign, Damian?”
“I know Doctor Bessa, I didn’t want to kill that man, I was scared, do you hear me doctor? Damn! Don’t ignore me! I am here, I am talking to you, don’t you hear me?” Damian shouted and cursed but he was not heard.
Damian realized that something strange was going on, since he woke up no one had entered the room, he could hear himself but now doctor Bessa was not hearing him, and his body was not moving, “What fucking thing is happening to me?” exclaimed Damian.
Time went by and Damian apparently didn’t wake up. He was healthy; he was physically ready to leave the hospital. But he couldn’t be judged, his jail was his own body, there were no relatives or anyone taking him home; this became a problem since the authorities didn’t know what to do with him.
“Doctor Bessa! May I have a Word with you?” asked Lieutenant Carter.
“Yes, tell me lieutenant, I also need to have a talk with you? It’s regarding Damian.
“Yes doctor, may we talk privately?”
“Sure, let’s go to Damian’s room.” Replied doctor Bessa showing him the way.
Once inside Damian’s room, doctor Bessa closed the door.
“Are you sure, he does not hear us?” Asked Carter.
“His mind is dead, lieutenant, this man is a vegetable only his involuntary functions work, and I really don’t know why, they shouldn’t; but many things about the human brain is still a mystery to us.”
“As you know, doctor, we have a serious trouble with Damian, he is murder convicted, but we can’t take him to trial. We have the witnesses confirming that he is guilty but we don’t have a jail for him. I was told in the front desk that you are discharging him tomorrow, and that we are responsible for him; I was told there aren’t any relatives. Tell me doctor. What do you want us to do with him? We don’t have a place for him; we can’t give him the care he needs, this is a challenge to the system.”
Doctor Bessa stood up, “look at him, he is perfectly healthy, he is just disconnected; his conscious mind does not connect. But we can’t have him here; we need the space for sick people. Damian’s condition is psychiatric; not a physical one. You registered him as a convicted murderer, so he is your responsibility. I deliver him to you and you decide what to do with him.”
“I understand that doctor and actually I want to ask your advice. Is there any place you suggest we can take him, a place where he can have the needed attention, and at the same time still be responsible for him?” Said Lieutenant Carter, looking at Damian with a tone of cold compassion.
Doctor Bessa hold Damian’s weak arm. “Look at this Lieutenant, this man doesn’t need a trial; his jail is his own body, he is a vegetable, his possibilities to wake up are one in a million. Take him to an asylum where he can get a decent attention, believe me, he won’t escape. I can recommend you one, if you want.”
Damian was listening to the conversation, he wanted to say something, he wanted to yell that he was there. He wanted to be heard, he shouted, but not a single sound came out of his mouth. Only an old lady sitting on a chair besides his bed could hear him. But it seemed that the men couldn’t see her.
That afternoon, a paramedic, a nurse, and Lieutenant Carter took Damian to the ambulance and then to an asylum where he was taken to a nice room, even though it was still a hospital, and the equipment was there, this was a friendly place, he could see the trees through the window; and the nurses treated him with care. “I am a vegetable! That is what I deserve for being such a bad person; if I could go back to the past, I would be a better person, I would have gone to school, I’d have worked, I’d have married and have kids. If I could get out of this prison…”
Then he saw her again, the old lady from the hospital. “You here?” he asked her.
“Yes son my body is like yours, but I have learned to go out of it, I am free and you can also be free, I am here to teach you, do you want to learn?”
“Of course I want to learn!” Exclaimed Damian, his voice tone changed, there was hope in it. “What do I have to do?”
“First step, forgive yourself, I heard you asking for an opportunity to be different, is that what you want?” Asked the old lady.
“Yes, that’s what I want; I think I can make it…” Damian didn’t finish the phrase, he was feeling something that he had never felt before, emotion in his heart; it was long ago since he last felt tears in his eyes.
Damian and the old lady chatted for hours, she was walking along the room, sometime she sat down, as if her body functions were perfect. She told him several stories… And suddenly Damian realized that he was sat down, and then he was walking with the old lady along the asylum’s garden.
“Do you see son? It is not so difficult… Now go where you have to go to fix your life.” The old lady kissed his forehead and left.
Damian remembered that day, the last one when he felt tears in his eyes. He closed his eyes and saw himself going out of the apartment where he lived when he was a little boy, he was just eight when he ran to the building’s door, there was a man standing there.
He opened his eyes and saw the eight years old kid pushing him to go outside.
“Move on!” yelled the kid.
Damian stopped the kid. “Say: Excuse me please?”
“Mo-ve- ON!” Yelled the boy.
Damian took the kid by the jacket and raised him until he saw him face to face.
“Excuse me, please?” Said the kid, he was getting scared of that tall man holding him that way.
“My pleasure, go ahead.” Said Damian putting him on the floor and moving aside to allow him to go out.
The kid went down the stairs and stopped in the street, he turned one side and the other; he obviously didn’t have a place to go.
Damian went down and sat on the stairs near to the kid who turn his head and stared at him untruthful.
“Hey, do you know where I can get an apartment?” Asked Damian. “I asked here, but there is none available, I have just arrived to the city.”
The kid stared at him again, he had to leave before his mother could find him, he had to go, and this man could help him.
“No, but I can help you looking for one. Maybe in the buildings by the park.”
“Ok, good! Can you show me the way, please?” Said Damian extending his hand to the kid, he knew the kid had to go before his mother came out.
Damian and the kid walked together several blocks until they got to the park.
“What’s your name?” Asked Damian.
“I’m Damian, my friends calls me Damy, and yours is?
“Funny! I’m Damian also, just Damian.”
They continued walking to an old building in front of the park. There Damian rented a small apartment, but enough for both.
“Come in, please…” Said Damian.
“Than- Thank you…” Said Damy.
“Do you have a place to stay tonight? I saw you came out with a bag…”
“Well…Are you inviting me to stay?”
“Yes, sure! Please stay…”
“Thank you! May I help you?” Asked Damy smiling at Damian for the first time.
“Very good Damy, always educated and nice, everything can be done this way, you are welcome in this home where we treat each other with courtesy and respect, okay?”
“Okay…!” said Damy smiling. For the first time in his life he was getting courtesy and respect, it was feeling good.
Even though he was living a few blocks from his mother’s place, Damy’s mother never tried to look for him, he sometimes saw her in the park with her boyfriends at night, usually they were drunk, there were times when the policemen arrested them and then, he didn’t see her in the park for several days. Then she was back with another man. Damian used to stand besides him at the balcony when Damy was looking at his mother in the park, just there, silent, just with him. Damian knew that Damy suffered looking at her this way. Damy didn’t tell him but his company comforted him, he knew he was not alone anymore.
One night Damy was at the balcony, when the memories came to his mind, he remembered when his mother was drunk and stood alone at home for days, she used to come back with a different man and put him out of the apartment, he remembered all the nights he slept in the aisle. He remembered watching his mother drugged drinking and running naked along the apartment to get him and take him out. He saw her naked with guys who never came back. But he never knew a word about his father. Damian stood beside him, and hugged him as a father does with his son. That night Damy cried all these tears he had stored in his still short life, all the pain went out and a new life started for both of them.
Damian registered him at school, he took him every morning before going to work, and picked him up to go back home, together they used to clean the house, cook dinner, set the table and then washed the dishes. They used to go to play basketball to the park. During the weekends together they visited museums, they went to concerts and games. Damy never saw Damian taking alcohol.
One evening, they were playing basketball in the park when Damy’s mother almost ran over him, she was so drunk that she didn’t recognize him, she even insulted him.
Damy ran to Damian and hugged him. “Thank you for loving me, Dad.” He said.
Damian felt how the tears were running along his cheeks.
“May I call you Dad?”
“Sure you can son! I feel honored if you call me Dad. May I call you son?”
Damy hugged him tight, and Damian hugged him the same. “Thank you for this opportunity, now everything will be different for both, I’ve got the chance to become a father, I have a father to enjoy and remember with love.”
With time, Damian progressed in his work and they relocated to a better place, they moved to a very pretty apartment very far away from where they lived in the past. Damian bought a car; they used to go shopping, and they also spent nice vacations at the beach. They were father and son. Damy went to high school in a new school; all the bad times were left behind. With all this love around him Damy learned to forgive and forget; their lives changed for the good and he was becoming an attractive teenager.
“Hey Dad…! There’s a new girl at school… I like her you know? Her name is Mariel and she is very pretty.” Damy was excited about telling this to Damian.
“Oh yes?” Said Damian serving the dinner. “Tell me son…”
“Yeah Dad, well I see her and she sees me and smiles, but I don’t dare to get closer and talk to her… How do I do that?”
“Mhhh… Say hello to her, remember always with courtesy and respect, help her with her books, be her friend, be faithful and trustful to her, don’t push her; treat her with care and love. You will succeed, you are a great boy.” Explained Damian.
“Ok Dad… I will, then I’ll tell you the outcome.”
Mariel ended up falling deeply in love with Damy. She became his girlfriend; from high school he went to college, and one day, when Damian proudly went to Damy’s graduation he came to him hand in hand with Mariel and told him that she accepted to be his fiancé.
“Dad…” said Damy excited. “Come here Dad… I want to hug you. Thank you for loving me Dad! Damian hugged him tight, and Mariel joined the hug.
“Son! I’m so proud of you!”
Damian was getting old, and Damy constantly gave him reasons to be proud and happy. Damian used to thank every night and every morning for the new chance he got. People used to say they were very alike, and Damy used to say they were like twins. Everyone thought Damian was really Damy’s father. At the end, he was Damy’s father, and that was what matter.
One day Damy came in running after work. “Dad!”
Damian hugged him.
“Dad… look!” exclaimed Damy, he was so excited, he took a little box from his jacket’s pocket. It was a wedding ring. “It’s for Mariel Dad… Can we go to ask for her hand?”
Damian hugged him tight. “Of course my son! Of course!”
That weekend, both were looking very handsome to dine at Mariel’s home; six months later Damy and Mariel were getting married. That night after taking the new weds to the airport; Damian was feeling a happiness and fulfillment that was new to him. “I did it! Damian Hills is a good and productive man. Thank you!”
A few days later, he was getting ready to go to pick up the new weds to the airport. “I will give them a nice surprise picking them up.” He thought. But the old lady was sitting in his living room. “Hello Damian, you did it!” She said with a wide smile.
“My friend! You here?”
“You did it, Damian, you are now a good man, don’t get it twisted, he is you! Damy is you!” Explained the old lady. “You did a great work, and now you have a new chance to live your life again. Look at the calendar and remember; today you were going to the hospital with a bullet in your head; but instead it is time for you to enjoy your own life.”
Damian remembered, it was that day, but instead of killing a man, he was coming back from his honey moon with his wife, he had a good job, a nice home, and the most important, he was living a life full of love.
“Let’s go Damian, it’s about time.” Said the old lady taking Damian’s hand. Damian understood; he took her hand and closed his eyes, immediately he fell asleep.
When he woke up he was in an airplane.
“Hey honey, wake up! We are landing!”
He saw Mariel taking his hand; he understood and thank this new chance to live his own life. He held Mariel and kissed her forehead. “I love you!”
“Is your Dad coming to pick us up?” Asked Mariel when they were taking their luggage..
“No darling. We must let him rest, we can take a taxi.”
They took a taxi and went home. The next day Damy went home, he knew what he was about to find. He called the doctor.
“It was a heart attack. Your father didn’t suffered, he died in peace.” Explained the doctor.
The funeral was sad, many people went to give the last good bye.
“He is okay son.” Said Mariel’s mother hugging him.
“He is very well, I know that, he is with the angels like him.” Said Damy.
Mariel and her mother looked at him amazed. “What a beautiful answer, what a beautiful way to talk about his father, darling. Take care of your husband; he is a great man, exactly like his father.”
Years went by, Mariel and Damian had two beautiful children. One day the youngest boy, who was only eight years old, came in the house very angry and frustrated, Damian was standing at the door.
“Move on!” yelled the kid.
Damian stopped him. “Say: Excuse me please?”
“Mo-ve- ON!” Repeated the angry kid.
Damian took his son by the jacket and raised him until he saw him face to face.
“Excuse me, please?” Said the kid more calmed and somehow ashamed.
“My pleasure, go ahead, son.” Said Damian moving aside to allow him to walk in.
“You are welcome son!” exclaimed Damian taking the boy in his arms.
The kid laughed. “I’m sorry Dad!”
“It’s ok son! I love you!”
“I love you Dad!” Exclaimed the kid hugging Damian.
“You are a kid full of love, you will be a good man, and you will be happy.” Thought Damian smiling to the old lady who was observing them from the garden while disappearing in a ray of light.