Eric sat at the table, had a cup of tea in his hands. But the tea wasn’t warm anymore.
Eric stood up and shuffled to the window. No voice, no sound outside. ‘Late and dark’, he thought, ’like my life.’
He wondered where Jody stayed. They had been married for six years, had a little daughter. But Eric wasn’t satisfied with life anymore.
Wasn’t he young? What did he do when he was young? What did he really experience? Didn’t he know that he was free?
He wasn’t free anymore. He was young, but felt old. And his experiences? Nothing. He was only 17 when he fell in love, got married and got a little daughter.
There was no freedom anymore. Eric had to work hard in the office, had to spend time with his family, had to go shopping, had to help his wife with cleaning the house, had to solve problems at work which he didn’t feel equal to – but most of all he was dissatisfied and felt like in prison. Eric hated the monotony of daily life.
He tightened the net curtain and put his cup of tea on the table, feeling impenetrable by hope, but filled with determination. He went to bed.
Jody came home from work late that night. Eric awoke by the sound of the key in the door. He heard Jody in the bathroom before she crept in and went to bed.
“Eric? Are you still awake?” she whispered. “What’s on?” he asked quite tense.
“Eric, I’m sorry that it took so long today. We had some problems with our new employee and I had a long conversation with her. She had –“ “Shut your trap!” Eric interrupted. “I’ve got troubles of my own!” Jody was dismayed. “Eric?! What’s wrong with you?” He sat up in bed and saw Jody looking at him with big, worried eyes.
“I am fed up with problems! I am fed up with this boring, uneventful life called mine!” “But Eric!” Jody tried to put her hand on his arm, but he pushed it away. Eric stood up.
“What have you planned?” his wife whispered. “Planned? Nothing! The times with plans are as good as over!” He took his trousers and a pullover from his chair and started dressing. Jody tossed the blanket back and stood up. “Where are you going, Eric?” “Why do you ask? Do you fear I won’t come back?”
Eric put his jacket on, slipped into his shoes and left the flat. Inside he heard his little girl crying. But he had no time to stop.
Eric walked, he walked very fast – but more aimless than decisively. Suddenly he stopped. On the street right in front of his feet there lay a purse. He knelt down to pick it up.
He noticed that it was the same purse as the one which he had forgotten at home – just in another colour – and he looked inside. There was no address, just some money. Another unhappy guy must have lost this purse.
With no trace of hesitation Eric put the lost purse into his jacket pocket and walked through the night. The wind blew coolly across the town, so Eric went into a pub. He had money, so this night would be his oyster!
After a few drinks he felt much better. He liked the dancing girls and enjoyed their show. He didn’t notice at all when an old man stood up from his chair and went to Eric. Just when he blocked his few of the young jiving women he saw him. Eric smiled. “Sit down, friend!”
The old man nodded, but he didn’t seem very happy. Eric felt like talking to him.
“What’s on, friend?” He didn’t expect an answer and took a good gulp of his beer.
“You are Eric Faulkner, aren’t you?” the man asked. Eric was very surprised. “You know me?” “No, not really. I see you each morning with your little kid driving away in your blue car. Someone told me your name.”
“Where do you live?” “Now, I live almost opposite your flat in a small, hidden house. It’s nice to meet you here, guy. When I see you I always envy you your family.” Eric didn’t look at him. He ordered two whiskies – for himself and for his new acquaintance. “You really don’t have to”, he admitted. “Really not. My life is boring. Don’t you have a family?”
The man looked very sad. “No, I don’t. When I was young I always wanted to go my own way. I wanted to see the world, wanted to travel – each day an adventure… That was my imagination of life.”
Eric listened attentively. “And I must say I really had some good years. I could tell you about almost each country you ask me for! I got to know so many people… But today I must say my journey was too long. I had forgotten what a “normal” life was like! After 12 years I wanted to stay in Italy, but I didn’t feel good. I missed something. So I travelled 4 years again and wanted to settle down in France. But no. I felt fairly lonely. For five years I have lived here.” “You don’t like it here, do you?” Suddenly Eric became serious. The old man shrugged his shoulders. “It could be better. But I have missed to start a family.”
Eric thought he had misheard. He didn’t say anything, but the man looked deeply into his eyes. “I know about your problem”, he even asserted. Then he stood up and took Eric’s whisky glass to put it onto the bar.
“Come with me, Eric”, he said and Eric did it. He followed the man outside. “You wanna be crazy? So be yourself!” he man shouted. Eric was taken by this man and together they went from pubs to night clubs and were even let into a disco where Eric danced and danced and danced….. Yes, he was young and free! He enjoyed the company of teenage girls who came to dance with him and he stood each of them drinks…
Eric himself was quite tipsy when his new friend, the old guy, came to say goodbye. He only laughed, wanted him to stay and ran onto the dancing floor again.
In the morning the disco was closed. Eric stumbled outside, had a heavy headache and felt quite dizzy. He had drunk too much. So… Where was he? He really couldn’t remember. He went to the next telephone-booth and took the receiver in his hand. But in the purse he had found was no single penny anymore and he didn’t know whom to phone to ask where he was.
But then Eric saw two boys standing smoking in front of the closed disco. They were about 14, Eric guessed. He approached them without thinking of what he was doing. Eric still was quite muzzy from the alcohol.
“Hey, guys”, he mumbled, “can you help me?” The two boys turned around and looked at Eric with a frown of disapproval. “What’s on, man?” the smaller boy asked while he blew the smoke in Eric’s direction. “I… I don’t know! Can you help me? I need money to phone.” “Is that all?” “Yes, yes!… Oh, no! I mean…” Eric didn’t know what he was saying. He had forgotten what he wanted to ask the boys for. He took a step sideways. “You mean you have to go now, don’t ya?” the other boy said with a superior smile. Eric was glad that he said this. “You are right.” The boy rummaged about in his jacket pocket and showed Eric a whole handful of coins. “Just take what you need”, he said. Eric began a little to wonder, but he took two coins. “Thank you! Thank you so much!!!” he said gratefully.
As he went to the telephone-booth again he looked back to the boys. “What helpful young people”, he muttered while he dialled a number which came into his mind, which he knew.
A young woman answered the phone. Before Eric could say anything she cried: “Eric??! Is it you, Eric?” “Yes.” “Eric, where have you been? Where are you?” “I don’t know, miss… In front of a disco I think. Is it called YELLOW? Yes, I think so…!” “Eric!” the woman cried. “I’ll pick you up! Just wait, okay? Please wait!”
15 minutes thereafter Jody came with their car. She jumped out of the carriage and wrapped her arms around Eric. “Honey! I was so worried! Come on, we’re gonna drive home!” – And she helped Eric to get into the car.
Jody wasn’t angry. She put Eric to bed and ran her fingers through his hair. “Sleep now”, she whispered.
But Eric couldn’t. Suddenly everything he had done came into his mind. Dismaying!… Incredible! Was that really the man he used to be?!?! He had an adventure trip this night…! Oh yes – he had!!!! Was is great? Or bad?
“Jody, please let me talk to you”, Eric begged. “Yes?” “Jody… I want to tell you what happened. I… I was so angry and dissatisfied… overtaxed with my life… You know, I wanted to experience something… I thought I had to live – and living is making experiences. I found a purse and thought the world would be my oyster this night. Yes!… I had too many drinks, went from bar to bar… Had a lot of fun…” He saw the tears in Jody’s eyes and held her tight. “Please understand…” “I do”, she whispered. “I do exactly know what you feel like!…” “It really was an adventure trip this night. I had so much fun… But now…? Nothing’s left. No money, no fun… I am so lucky that you fetched me, Jody!… I was where I wanted to be, who I wanted to be, doing what I always wanted to do, but now I feel I haven’t won at all. I lost more than I received… And it wasn’t even my own money… Being crazy isn’t my world. Please forgive me….” He kissed her. Both of them cried. “Do not worry about me, honey”, Jody said with a smile. “I understand you, Eric.”
Two days later, when Eric wanted to bring his child to the kindergarten, he noticed that a flat was cleared out. It looked like a removal. “Wait in the car, Angie, okay? I’m back in two minutes!” – And Eric ran over to the men carrying the furniture. “Good morning! May I ask what you are doing? Who moves out there?” The worker looked very serious. “Old Mr. Banks died two days ago. Drank too much alcohol, then lay down under a bridge and froze to death… We have to break up his flat.”
Eric swallowed. He was horrified. “He didn’t have anybody to care for him, did he?”
“I knew him quite well…” The man looked very sad at the card board he just had carried outside. “He never had a family. He always wanted to experience adventures. He told everyone fairy-tales about his journeys. He never made one journey. He was born here and worked hard, very hard, but had never enough money. He didn’t experience anything in life, because he had no money – even if he refrained from having a family – just to travel one day. Mr. Banks’ life was… was sad and uneventful.”
Eric looked at the sky. He knew he was rich.
© Copyright 2000
By Britta Kunz