Shooting Roses

He slowly wakes up. Somewhere the sun is setting. The evening light drags itself through the blinds before dying. He walks to the bathroom zigzagging about. The cold water kills his laziness. Once showered, he dresses in a dark green apron and starts cooking. Exotic fruit salad. Vegetarian lasagna. Crêpes. Colors. Smells. He sets a lonely table. An aromatic candle. A bottle of exquisite red wine. He goes back to his bedroom. He dresses in a trendy dark suit, fancy and elegant. Back in the living room, he turns on his iPod speaker station. Nostalgic quiet jazz floods the room. Seduced by the music, he sits down and enjoys. A pleasure for the senses. Once finished he looks down. Sadness is back. A grimace precedes the invisible crying. His hope wrinkles. Fire. The drive is gone. Apathy. He walks towards the night table, opens the only drawer and strangled his future. In front of the huge living room window he draws a resigned smile before opening the blinds. Sprinkled darkness. The lake. Two moons. Staring at the fake one while rising his arm and opening his mouth and pulling the trigger and listening to the deafening racket and closing his eyes and collapsing. Red.

He suddenly wakes up. Agitated, he runs towards his walk-in closet and looks for a suit he had never bought. There it is. Anxious, he runs to the kitchen and opens the black refrigerator looking for the ingredients of a meal he had never planned. There they are. Scared, he runs back to his bed and stands still in front of the night table. The tears he cries. He opens the only drawer. It is not empty. Inside there is. There is a rose. From who?

Only then he realizes he is trying to remember something that has not yet happened.


Bird Pooh

When they went back to the car, it was covered in bird pooh.

"So, are you already enjoying your new environment?"

"Yes! Little by little," she looked down and then up again. "Definitely more than your car... I'm going back again this weekend."

"Again? You know what?" he started looking around, keeping intermittent eye contact with her. "When I moved to this country there were still many attachments back where I came from... I could say that, somehow, I wasn't here at all! I was looking forward to go back as soon as I could for as long as I could... But then one day, the feeling wasn't strong anymore. I still missed my friends and family, my secret corners..."

"I bet there are many of those..."

"There are some..." a mischievous smile. "They faded. But they didn't disappear! They faded into something different that would always be there... Only then I realized that it was the same with everyone, no matter the time I would spend with them... Even that stranger I meet in a plane. As long, of course, as they're able to make an impact on me. And not only people... Also places... I'm good at getting drunk of them, have a little hangover, and move on without regret, enriched. Some people are, some aren't... And, don't get me wrong, everyone is right..."

He draw three dots on the wet rear window of the car with the fingertip that made him different from everyone else, unique. One in the center. One one inch to the south. One one inch to the east.

"You grew up in here," he said pointing the southern one. "You learned how to look through people's eyes up north..."

She nodded.

"And you're learning now how to not miss them anymore..." He paused. "And this is just the beginning. The car is huge, so is the world. Bird pooh also, but full of unknown places and people for you to experience. Some of them you'll miss, some of them you won't. That, amiga mía, you decide. You decide how deep you dive... And be sure that every now and then you'll also find bird pooh!"

He kissed her on the cheek and embraced her. She, without hesitation, dived into his arms.

"Now, I have to go," while slowly turning back and getting in the car.

She closed the door, smiled, and quietly walked barefoot over the fresh grass towards the warmth of a home that she was starting to appreciate.

While he was driving away he was missing her already. He was missing who she had been, who he had been. Nevertheless, he was looking forward to miss their future as well. They were not going to be the same ever again. Sweeter or bitterer. Maybe blank. Who knows? Who cares? His impatience faded. It turned into a calm smile. It did not matter anymore if he had to go east, and she west. They, at least, had actually walked together for a day or two. He did not care about tomorrow anymore. At the same time, he silently wished he knew what color it was going to be...

But then again, who does?


Are you ready?

Puring with rain. The old engine stopped in a steep hill by his house. It was pitch dark.

- Are you ready to die?

- What do you mean?

- Are you ready? I'm serious...

- What are you talking about? Are you gonna kill me? Is that it?

- I never thought I would turn thirty... And I'm now six months away from it...

- Never? Come on, kids always think they'll never die...

- Kids, not me...

- What about you? Are you ready to die?

- I was thinking about that the other day. It would be a pity, but I'm ready... I'm doing what I really want... And I'm happy... I never thought I would get old...

- You're freaking me out... I have to go...

- Me too... Talk to you tomorrow!

He closed the door behind him and accidentally slipped while his friend was putting his foot on the accelerator. His head hit the wet floor. The right back tire smashed it against the fall leaves. After noticing the bump he put the handbrake on and step out of the car to check its origin. When at the back he ducked looking for something. The handbrake of the car failed and the trashy vehicle trapped him underneath. He slowly lost his breath, anxious. He never realized that on the other side of the car, the disfigured face of his friend drawn a smile while bleeding to death.


4. redemption (or i rode my bike across a seven miles bridge surrounded by blues)


He woke up early, took a quick shower and walked his bike to Super Walmart. He locked it outside and went in to exchange a tire he had bought the previous evening hoping it would fit. He already knew then it wouldn't, but still bought it. He had done it may times before. Do something he knew it was wrong. Something he knew he would have to undo. Was he so insecure?

He decided to ride west to West Palm Beach. He had only one tube he could count on in his backpack. Twenty miles until South Bay, and then thirty more miles surrounded by nothingness until the outskirts of West Palm Beach. Once there, he would be safe. Once there, he would be able to look for a so desired local bike shop. By the beach many people ride bicycles. In Clewiston, some people live in shabby houses but, of course, have a ginormous pickup truck parked in the careless yard.

Nothingness means nothingness. His brain, though, would keep him busy. Sometimes it would go blank. Emptiness. Only then he would feel the ephemeral taste of freedom.

The road became more and more dangerous. Truck drivers are all on the phone. It was red. It passed as close to him as it could without touching him. A red truck. He was thrown out of the road and let himself fall into the mud. Sitting there he smiled at the next truck driver. Also on the phone. The one that would have taken his life away if he would have been thrown in rather than out. A sign caught his attention: Lake Okeechobee Trail.

"Of course, for mountain bikes," he thought, still smiling, before laughing.

He carried his bicycle up a little hill. Paradise. The trail was paved and the lake, the lake was gorgeous. He felt then his luck was changing. He, for the first time in a long time, flew rather than ride. He cried again. But those were tears of joy. An eagle flew over his head, and for an instant he wished it would have never ended, it preceded his saunter. The eagle. The lake. The hill. Pause. Where is the remote?

After that, monotonous. He had a flat tire ten miles away from his goal. A second one, two miles later, after being invited to a hot dog without a dog by a solitary street vendor. Eight miles to walk. And then, and then Walter.

"Dios te ha puesto en mi camino. Y con eso me ha brindado la posibilidad de tomar una decisión. Ayudarte o no ayudarte."

He stopped his trailer in the middle of the road. All the cars behind started honking. He, and his bike, jumped in. The truck driver gave him a ride to the trailer parking first, where they jumped into his pickup truck, and to a bike shop later. Unfortunately, in the first bike shop they went to they did not have the tire he needed. A matter of size. Nevertheless, they referred them to a second one.

"No tienes que invitarme a cenar," he said. "Si quieres devolverme el favor, lo único que tienes que hacer es ayudar a esa persona que Dios pondrá en tu camino para brindarte, como a mí, la posibilidad de tomar una decisión."

Walter was from Cuba. He had won a Green Card while he was in prison for making money under the communist regime. Once free, he had moved to Florida leaving behind a wife and two daughters that would soon be with him after seven years apart. And then, the same way he arrived, he left.

That night, for the first time, he fell sleep knowing that he would make it to Key West. Knowing that getting to Key West was not important anymore. While listening to Corazón Loco by Bebo & Cigala, and the swinging of the waves.

to be continued



Doing nothing. Sitting in a bench watching the hours pass by. In a lonely park. Everlasting silence before...

- You!

- What?

- If you had to choose, what would you choose? Having sex with a man or with a dead woman?

- What!?

- A man or a dead woman?

- What kind of question is that one!?

- Come on, answer...

- I'm not gonna answer to that...

- You have to... Imagine that if you don't answer they'll kill you...

- No one is gonna kill me!

- They'll kill all the members of your family if you don't answer...

- What are you talking about!?

- Come on, you have to answer...

- I'm not answering...

- They're killing your family... I told you... They're dead now... You had a chance to save them...

- You're crazy...

- A man or a dead woman?

- I'm going home now...

- You're not fun... I'm going with you... By the way, do you think I have a chance with that girl we met yesterday at the club?

- Maybe... As long as she's dead...

- Asshole!

- I love you too...


3. redemption (or i rode my bike across a seven miles bridge surrounded by blues)


He woke up when it was still dark. Had some breakfast and got ready for the ride. He ate everyday the same. Chocolate milk, cereals, fruit, and peanuts for breakfast. Four Clif bars during the ride. Potato salad, fruit, and yogurt for dinner. That kept him always physically able to ride. There was always a store close enough. He finally had the chance to check if Gatorade is better than water. They claim it is. Some studies say it is not. He felt better after a gulp of Gatorade than after a gulp of water. It must be the taste. It must be the color. He felt yellow.

He left the Highlands county behind. Welcome to the Glades county. The scattered wealthy communities of mostly retired people turned into spread redneck communities. Long empty roads. Only then he felt lonely, wondering what he would do in case something happened to him. He felt in the middle of nowhere.

There are many kinds of pavements. There are pavements that fly. There are pavements that shine, and pavements that burn. There are pavements that bite, pavements that scratch, that caress, and that hurt.

Shoulders are full of litter, drive safely memorials, and dead animals. A mountain bike would have had fun in the Glades county.

He had a flat tire. He had a flat tire. He had a flat tire. Three in ten miles. His back tire was as thin as smoking paper. His right forearm was hurting. It is not trivial to achieve 100 psi with a mini pump. It is less trivial to achieve them three times within ten miles.

He arrived in Clewiston later than he would have desired, and decided to stay in a campground. Asked three different questions getting always the same answer: Super Walmart. Unfortunately, they did not have the tire he needed, the tube he needed, the food he needed. There are cities built around a river, a harbor, a lake. There are also cities built around a Super Walmart.

Without a new back tire he would not be able to ride. He had two options, and one of them became really tempting, quitting.

"Why am I doing this?" Still toying with the same question. "Why do I need to worry?"

The other option was going west to West Palm Beach instead of going South as he had planned. There are no bikes stores in the middle of nowhere. A one day delay.

As the sun went down he felt sad. He remembered why he was there. He cried and wondered why he was not able to feel the joy he felt on his bike while working. Why at work he was always feeling as if he was standing still, constantly pumping air, one tube after the other. It was not his forearm, but his heart which was damaged. Wounded motivation.

He fell sleep despite of the smell. Fields of manure. His legs were feeling good. It was his right forearm which was bothering him. He could not write. He wished he could fly, he wished Glósoli by Sigur Rós was able to teach him.

to be continued


2. redemption (or i rode my bike across a seven miles bridge surrounded by blues)


He had an early start. Thought about quitting already, but decided to keep riding south. He would be resting at the Highlands Hammock State Park eighty something miles later. The day was beautiful, so were the Highlands County roads. He enjoyed riding along a smooth flow of vehicles. Wide and clean shoulders. Scattered wealthy communities of mostly retired people. Fields splashed with orange trees. A place to hide and take a nap. The clouds were not clouds anymore in a blue canvas. They were sailing boats, they were fields of cotton, they were butterflies. Butterflies like the ones he felt in his stomach.

"Love is like cycling," hypnotized. "It's there as long as you keep pedaling... Once you stop, love will still be there, but will eventually fade... How long will it be there? That depends on the friction of the pavement and the slope of the hill... You better be going downhill if you wanna stop pedaling and keeping her by your side..."

But then again, someone used to tell him that the imagination of a child and the reasoning of a grown up are enough to connect life with bullfighting, or death with designing, or, as he was doing now, love with cycling.

While riding, thoughts. A waterfall of them. One after the other. Thoughts he would have never connected arose, one after the other. A headache. He had been in love four times and there was only one thing in common to all of his failures. That was him. A smile. Rafa had told him about two kinds of people, those who are meant to walk alongside with someone, and those who are meant to have an impact in the life of many people, but would always walk alone.

"What kind of person are you?" Sebring was close when he had the first flat tire of the ride, he laughed. "How do I relate this to love now?"

He slept in the middle of the forest, surrounded by trees and animals that kept visiting him all night.

His closest friends, only those who had been close enough to see through his wall of confetti, knew about his bittersweetness. The one he enjoyed then, in front of a beautiful sunset, while listening to Bittersweet Symphony by The Verbe. Jesús, his cousin, used to tease him with his supposed resemblance to Richard Ashcroft. His cousin, of course, uses glasses.

to be continued


1. redemption (or i rode my bike across a seven miles bridge surrounded by blues)


He did not mention his idea to many people. Definitely he did not mention it to his mother. It would have been too much for her. Four thousand six hundred and twenty nine miles would have been nothing for her. Six people he had mentioned it to. Plus he sent an email to Sun Mi right before leaving.

The alarm clock went off at six o'clock in the morning. Everything was ready but him. He sat on the edge of the bed for an hour thinking about getting back under the comfort of the sheets.

"Why am I doing this?" The question resounded in his mind, hurting for three thousand and six hundred seconds.

He took a deep breath before standing up and going to the bathroom. He look at himself in the mirror.

"As it is for now... I... don't... care..."

He grabbed his backpack and left. An sleeping bag, ten pairs of socks, ten briefs, a board short, a pair of pants, a pair of thick tights, a t-shirt, a long sleeve shirt, a raincoat, peanuts, seven Clif bars, two tubes, an air pump, two tire levers, an iPod, a cellphone, a pen, a notebook, and Focusing by Eugene Gendling, and that was all he could fit.

He was surrounded by water. The humidity was so high that the cyclocomputer stopped working.

"Now I have to go back," but he did not.

The sound of a loose cage annoyed him and made him stop at a solitary car repair where a man was standing looking at the floor.

"Good morning!"


"Do you think you have something to tighten this cage?"


He went into the office and came back after a minute or two. He looked me in the eyes before aiming at my right eye with a nail gun.

"Is that what you really need, cheater?" He fired. "Now you can't run, only cowards run, are you a coward, asshole?"

There was blood all over his body. He could not see a thing. He listened to his maniac laugh before falling down. He fainted and never woke up.

"You have finally found what you were looking for, haven't you?"

He went into the office and came back after a minute or two. Without saying a word he tighten the cage and went back to whatever he was doing before he interrupted his pleasant early morning start with a loose cage.

He rode about eighty miles to Clermont. The ride was nice for the first part but it got boring as the day went on and the weather improved. It did not take long for him to realize that what he was doing was somehow dangerous for the lack of respect some drivers have towards cyclists. It would take only one mistake for his mother to feel it four thousand six hundred and twenty nine miles away. Nevertheless, that was his last concern at the time.

"You met me at a very strange time of my life," Where is my mind by The Pixies and the feet on the ground.

to be continued


0. redemption (or i rode my bike across a seven miles bridge surrounded by blues)

Love. Hate.
Friends. Family. Friendships. Relationships.
Deadlines. Pressure. Stress.
Girlfriends. Ex-girlfriends. Non-girlfriends. Non-boyfriends.
Commitments. Responsibilities. Grown-ups.
Spirituality. Religion.
Money. Rent. Bills.
Past. Present. Future.


Cabin depressurization.

The idea came to him as many other ideas before, while talking to someone. Heidi listened to how he would like to ride his bike alone from Gainesville to Key West. He had been toying with the idea of someday, not in the near future, following the steps of one on his best friend's boyfriend and going around the world on his bicycle. Nevertheless, as soon as he listened to his words he felt as many other times before. Some people live through what they say, some people live through what they do. That is what he used to reel off. He could not stand the fact that he had become a dreamer without drive. But he had got used to it. He was always ready to plan the seed of his future impotence. Masochistic dreamer.

This time, though, it was different. Dangerous impulse.

"I need to take some time off. It's difficult for me to admit it, but I'm in the verge of a depression," the tone of his voice fading.

"I understand. What are you going to do?" Rafa, inquiring.

"I'm going to Key West," he looked like he was not sure about what he had just said, as surprised as the person in front of him. "I'm riding my bicycle to Key West."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm not, but I'm leaving on Tuesday," it was Sunday.

"Are you sure you're not running away?"

"I'm not sure, but I think I'm rather chasing..."

His iPod shift from something he did not recognize to Yo viviré by Celia Cruz, who did not only reinvented Gloria Gaynor's everlasting classic, but used it as her farewell song.

to be continued


Past in Present

Behind the telescope, under clouds and clears and a tender snowfall that would wait for them. She was looking through space and time.

- Daddy...

- Yes Esther?

- How old are those stars?

- Well, our Galaxy, the Milky Way is around thirteen billion years old...

- That's... What?

- That's a thirteen and nine zeros... And, actually, a few of those stars you see might not be there anymore...

- What do you mean?

- They are so far away that it takes a while for their light to reach us. Thus, the telescope, becomes a time machine, it shows the past...

The night was getting colder and they decided to go back in. While walking on the snow he thought once again about that idea. He felt unattached from the present. Not only it was unreachable when looking through the telescope, it was also when looking within. A lonely tear came down his cheek and died in a resigned smile.

- Will we look again tomorrow, daddy?

- Yes, we will, gorgeous... Yes, we will... We'll keep looking... We'll look for as long as it takes...

His voice faded as they got into the house...



Me llamó la atención un banco retorcido. Un banco donde acomodarse resultaba imposible. Imposible desde este lado del escaparate. Al otro lado una espaciosa tienda de muebles. Paredes blancas desnudas. Techo negro. Apenas unas cuantas piezas por las que nadie hubiera pagado los desorbitados precios que escondían sin disimulo. Una silla invertida, un armario tumbado, un sofá espiral. De repente, la urgencia me empujó hacia adentro. Sentado tras media mesa rosa un hombre vestido de negro respondió indicando con su índice el camino a seguir a mi mueca de apremio. Cabello níveo a pesar de su aspecto jovial. Piel tostada artificialmente. Barba deliberadamente asimétrica.

Evacué contra una cascada de sombras multicolor. Me miré en un espejo que me devolvió mi imagen mirándome en un espejo.

- No hay mucho trabajo estos días.

Esas fueron sus palabras mientras erguido se dirigía a un immaculado taller, visible desde donde me encontraba, al encuentro de alguien y se despedía con una reverencia de mí, intruso libre ya de urgencia. Abandoné la tienda, sin más.


- Eres tan enigmático, y único, como las piezas que aquí fabricamos. Inútil, también, quizás. Me gustas, aunque no te preocupes, ya no ejerzo.

Sus palabras no me incomodaron. No era la primera vez que un hombre se sentía atraído por mí.

- ¿Estás seguro de que quieres trabajar aquí?

- Sí, lo estoy.

- Aquí las cosas no tienen sentido.

Poco tenía que ver yo con Salvador, ese era su nombre. Poco también con Luis, su asociado. Una cosa nos unía, eso sí. La fe en Sawoei y las piruletas de colores.