As Samuel was walking down the street on that windy November dawn, he could feel the cold wind penetrating the holes in his jacket and his gloves, and shaking him to his bones. He had wrapped his old purple scarf around his neck and up to his nose, and with difficulty, he was trying to look ahead through the fog as he was walking against the direction of the wind. The streets were empty and silent, and every now and then the sound of stray dogs howling painfully could be heard from the hidden corners of the closed stores and run down buildings. Along with the fog, the wind was carrying dust and old yellow pages of books and newspapers and all these made Samuel feel lonelier than he often did.
“This street used to be more alive” he thought to himself.
then he thought about the word “alive”. He put aside his thoughts and distracted himself and kept walking till he reached Adger’s house. He reached the door and knocked loudly. He waited a few minutes, rubbing his hands together to keep them warm. He stepped back and looked up at the window on the second floor. He could see the yellow light casting on the window from the inside.
“Adger…” he shouted, but it was of no use. The sound of the wind was too loud. He tried knocking again, hitting the door with his fists.
“Adger…open the ****** door.”
He knew Adger couldn’t hear him. He had lost his hearing on his right ear long ago in the war. He looked around and found a little pebble in the gutter. He aimed at the window and threw it. He was surprised he could still aim at his age like he did in his youth. In a few seconds the door opened and Abraham saw Adger dressed neatly in his best clothes with a smile on his face which showed a combination of fear and excitement. Samuel stood dumbfounded. The last time he had seen such a childish smile on anyone’s face was a long time ago. Adger took him by his arm and took him inside and closed the door.
“What’s going on?” Asked Samuel.
Adger laughed heartily and hugged him, almost squeezing his bony body.
Then he looked at him in the eyes and said quietly,
Samuel couldn’t believe what he just heard, and all of a sudden he laughed hysterically.
“You’re leaving?” Seeing that Adger’s face wouldn’t change, he became serious again. His laughter disappeared instantly and he looked at Adger with a bit of resentment.
“So… you’re determined this time. I see.”
Then he turned back to the door and as he was leaving Adger took him be his arm again. “Through all these years, you haven’t worked on your temper” said Adger,
“come, dear friend, this is not the way to say goodbye. Let’s go upstairs.”
They went up in silence, Samuel was looking down the whole time as if to suppress his anger and rage. Adger opened the door to his room. The room was almost empty, and there were two big brown luggage on the ground with clothes and some medals hanging out from them. He must have packing when Samuel got to the door outside. Samuel sat on the bed, lost in thought. Adger sat on a chair in front of him, still smiling. Samuel looked up at him inquiringly and after a long silence whispered
Samuel and looked down again.
“Where?” Asked Samuel.
Adger stood up and went to the window, and looked out without saying a word.
“Why?” Asked Samuel. “Why do you want to leave?”
“Why should I stay?” Replied Adger, still looking blankly outside.
“For us. For the village. For all the memories.”
Samuel could see that Samuel’s smile was gone and tears began to fill his eyes. But suddenly he turned to samuel frowning.
“What village, huh?.. Have you looked around you lately? Everything is falling apart. Everything. There are no people here anymore. There’s no life. Come and look now, come! There’s not a soul out there.”
“It’s early morning. Of course there are no people on the street.” Samuel interrupted angrily.
The word “life” got on his nerves again. What did he mean by that? He thought to himself. But he stood up and began to walk to the door.
“You are not leaving.” He said when he reached the door, with his back turned to Adger.
“You don’t even know where you are going.”
“Anywhere behind those mountains.” Adger replied after a few seconds of silence.
Samuel grunted and went downstairs with rage in his heart.
He walked aimlessly with fast and long paces for hours with his head down. He realized his old friend’s departure was upsetting him more than he expected. The sun had come up but it was still cold and foggy, as if the sun had no effect at all behind the clouds. As if the sun had gotten old like the village, like the buildings, like Adger, like Samuel.
He was thinking about this, and he got mad at himself for not being able to think of something else. He tried to look around and distract himself. He looked at the windows of closed stores, at signs, at anything he could lay his eyes on. He could find nothing new. The stores were deserted and the signs were covered with dust. Suddenly he felt that he stepped on something. It was a fragment of a newspaper. He couldn’t find a date on it but he could guess it was from a long time ago. It was written on it where it was not torn: “…Dietrich sings at the theater on Christm…”. Under it was a part of Marlene Dietrich’s picture. He suddenly felt nostalgia of the old days filling his heart. He remembered that night. It was a few months after the war, from which he and his friends had survived. He remembered the coldness of that Christmas, and the warmth that he had within him that night. He remembered thousand light bulbs lighting up the main street. He remembered the sound of people laughing and dancing under the snow to the sound of accordion. He remembered Marlene Dietrich’s voice that night, mesmerizing the whole audience as they watched her on the stage with admiration in their eyes. He remembered his friends, young Adger. He remembered Maria, whom he met for the first time that night, standing alone in the audience, and with whom he fell in love instantly. He felt overwhelmed by so many memories that a worthless piece of paper brought him. He crumpled it and threw it away angrily. He kept walking.
It was almost noon. He got tired of walking and went into the bar. It was dim inside. the fat bartender was cleaning the glass with a towel and he had dark rings under his eyes. Samuel looked around and the only people he could see were the two old men who had been playing chess for the past twenty years on that same table. He realized their game was even slower than before, as if they had been playing an endless match for years. He sat down, exhausted from walking. He ordered fried eggs and bacon. The bartender nodded. Samuel looked at the door, as if expecting someone to come. No one did. He finished his lunch and went home.
He went upstairs to his flat, and slowly walked to the bed. He lay down, staring at the ceiling. His feet were still tired from his aimless stroll. He thought of Maria again. He realized he hadn’t thought of her for a while. He began going through their memories together, from their marriage to her death. Out of the fear of forgetting his recollections, he used to relive them every now and then in his mind. He would think of the road he took to get to Maria’s house, he would try to imagine the staircase, himself walking up to the third floor, where Maria lived, turning right, the second door. He would reconstruct her excited to see him, their conversations, their deep intimacy. He would even add some new words, which now he wished he had told her.
As he was lost in his sweet illusion the wind pushed the window open and it hit the wall loudly. He jumped from the bed with his heart pounding. He grunted and shut the the window. He looked outside. The wind had driven the fog away, and was blowing so fiercely, that the old black trees seemed to be nearly carried away out of the ground. The stray dogs had taken shelter in the holes of the old buildings and were howling. Everything looked so bleak to him. He felt his heart was heavy in his chest, and he didn’t seem to be able to breathe. He fell into a chair that was by the window and was sweating. He took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his forehead.
Adger’s voice was echoing in his head and he had no control over it.
“There’s no life, come and look.”
Was repeating in his ears and he felt sick in his stomach. He stood up with difficulty and leaning on the wall, he walked to the kitchen. He drank two glasses of water and washed his face. He was dizzy, and at moments like this the fear of death would grip his heart. He lay down on the bed again. He tried not to think of anything. He saw a picture of Maria on the table beside him.
Next morning he woke up early, and as always took a walk outside. The wind during the night before had bent the trees and even the lampposts looked a bit moved out of their places. He went straight to the diner to have breakfast. He decided to sit outside on one of the few tables they had. He was just about to order that he heard the noise of a crowd from distant. It seemed strange to him since no one ever came out until noon. He started following the sound till he could see about ten people standing together and looking in a direction. He got near them, they were talking to each other and pointing at the mountains at east, where the sun was coming up. Samuel tapped on one of them and asked what was going on.
“He is leaving.” He said, and pointed at the mountain.
“Look, there, trying to climb with those big bags.” He laughed scornfully, “he won’t make it, he’ll come back.”
Samuel realized it was Adger. He felt weak in his knees for some reason and started walking back slowly. He couldn’t make sense of the rage that had filled him all of a sudden. Why is it, he thought to himself, that this made him so bitter and resentful. He found a nearest bench and sat down. He took off his coat, opened the top button of his shirt and tried to breathe. He was feeling that sickness in his stomach again.
“It must be the egg I ate yesterday.” He said to himself almost aloud, and decided not to ever eat there again.
He grunted and started walking the street. He didn’t want to be alone, and was looking for people in that deserted village. The wind had started to blow coldly again, and he put on his coat again. He got back to the cafe, and he saw a bunch of people laughing at the “fool” as he was known in the village. In his young years, the fool used to be the only entertainer in the village, acting and doing his tricks at the circus as the “fool”, a name that replaced his real name which was forgotten and lost. He was particularly funny, because of his odd ugliness, and his strange little figure which looked like a child’s, as if he was born premature. After the circus was closed, he had led his lonely life on his own and that had made him lost his sanity, thus after a few years of solitude, one day he came out on the street, very thin and old by then, to do his tricks, which were by now by no means tricks, but his genuine behavior to the few people who were left in the village and who received him with open arms and laughter full of sarcasm and bitterness. On that particular morning, he had confused himself with a chicken again and was walking around flapping his little bony arms and jumping briskly around.
The people were laughing hysterically and throwing little pieces of bread on the ground and he would eat them little by little. Samuel sat in the corner and tried to distract his thoughts by looking at him. He felt pity for him, and he realized that deep down he had always had some kind of affection to him. He watched the people looking at each other and laughing at him and again he was filled with rage and resentment. He decided to go home and sleep but as he was leaving, the fool switched to another character, and stood erect, with his eyes wide open gazing at the sky. This sudden transformation sent a chill down Samuel’s spine, and others were shut up.
“What happened?” Someone whispered after a moment of silence, giggling nervously.
Samuel automatically sat on the chair, without making any noise.
The fool’s lips started to move, as if he was trying to mutter something. They all were uneasy and looked curiously at him.
“Do…do you…do you hear what the wind is saying?” He finally muttered.
Then he looked at the people in the eyes one by one, and repeated,
“do you hear what the wind is saying?”
Then he shot Samuel a look with his big and wide eyes. Samuel looked down on, uneasy and somehow frightened. There was silence, and the wind was blowing more intensely. Samuel was still looking down, wondering if he was still looking at him. Fearfully he tried to slowly look up. The fool had stretched his fragile hands up in the air, and stayed like that for a minute. Then suddenly he started dancing, moving round and round with his hands still above his head. Then he started laughing out loud,
“it’s coming, it’s coming…”.
Someone started laughing nervously, and gradually others joined him and the laughter grew louder and more hysterical. Samuel got up angrily and started walking home. All of a sudden the fool jumped at him and grabbed him by his arm. Samuel looked at him frightened. The crowd were much entertained and were applauding. Samuel tried to push him but he wouldn’t let go.
“Don’t look back.” Said the fool, with a strange fear and sadness in his eyes.
“Don’t look back, don’t look back. Go. Don’t look back.”
Samuel was getting more and more terrified and finally he kicked him in his chest and he was thrown back on the ground. The crowd cheered. Samuel started pacing, almost running to his home.
The next morning, Samuel woke up with the whistling sound of the wind and the crowd.
Hurriedly he went to the window, and saw terrified people running around, and hiding in their houses. He quickly went downstairs, questioning everyone what was going on. He saw a look in people’s eyes, that he had never seen before. Their eyes were wide open, hopeless and pitiable. No one gave an answer to him, and in the midst of that chaos, Samuel couldn’t help but let go of their hands and coats, so that they could go on running aimlessly. He tried to go forward, to the place that people were coming from. He could hardly see before him. The intense wind were carrying dust and it was hard to keep his eyes open.
As he was walking he ran into someone, and he realized there was a group of people, gathered around something. He pushed them away one by one, and in the middle he saw the fool, with his head cracked open. A part of his brain was outside and on the bloody cement. At the sight of that gruesome corpse he immediately looked away and threw up. Someone said he had tried to fly in the wind.
“He jumped from the roof. He thought the wind could carry him.” The other one said, silently giggling.
Samuel ran back to his house, and fetched his bag and put everything valuable he had inside it. He could hear the sound of the wind getting louder and louder. He quickly went to the door, and looking for the last time at his house, he closed the door. Outside people were getting crazier. He carried his heavy bag and was heading to the mountains. He saw no one up there, and realized people were only running around. Some of the trees had come out of the ground, and even the bricks of old houses were starting to move. Samuel walked as fast as he could. He was almost there when he realized he hadn’t taken his wife’s picture with him.
The tornado had come, and he could hear the buildings crumbling. He looked at the mountain top, and kept walking and he never looked back.