A boy puffed his cheeks to the bursting point.
What do you mean? asked the old man. He sank his face in the hair
of the guy in front until everything was crammed around him.
Years later he would think of the red radiator in the corner
usually stone cold
and when he painted it one Wednesday afternoon
he managed to get where he wanted
his head was heavy, he felt lost
as if he had touched something that wasn’t there
while something else tormented him, nothing had changed
and he remembered his childhood
when he would hold onto a glass for fear of falling off his chair
the disquieting presence of everyday things
had started to emerge.
And then in adolescence
when the queue got out of the building
an animal tail
he saw the boy in the photograph
and thought that he would meet him someday.
For years he was sure that he had betrayed him
nailed him in a distant place
in all-white Tokyo
yet he was still blue, bad tempered
amid the dozens of objects he found in the garbage
next to the moldy drainpipe
if they dried out they would die.
He erased them, stained them, but the boy was resilient.
The boy is resilient, he would mumble and then quiet down.
Want a cigarette? a man on a moped asked him one day.
He didn’t answer and time went on.
There was often a threat over the telephone
a threat from pictures that were parts of bigger pictures
and he feared he had forgotten how to see.
I can’t see, he used to say.
He walked and gathered wood
and placed it around him like an armor
although one punch would surely break it
and then wrapped it in a thick paste.
How many times did I betray them all? he wondered.
He let his body walk on and the old man
asked him again: What do you mean?
Why are you doing it?
Questions that will never get an answer
they have been made this way, like mechanisms
that seek no answers, they loathe answers.
When he reached the city he saw the crows
flying from tree to tree
the branches all bare
he sipped his soup in a restaurant
and when he stepped out
a boy bumped into him and asked: Do you have a cigarette?
I don’t smoke, he answered.
They had met at last
and still the boy had not conformed.
Andreas Ragnar Kassapis was born in Athens in 1981.