Leon is nice and calm. Nicer and calmer than Granada. It’s an interesting comparison if you the cousins of them in Spain. The people of Leon are so proud of their place, so you better not mention the Alhambra. I walk around town looking for the museum of Ruben Dario, and unfortunately I cannot find it. I nourish myself with icecream and coconut pastry until I suddenly see a French bakery offering real croissants.
“Vous êtes français?”
-“No, but he is.”
There is an older and balder man smiling. He has traveled a lot in his lifetime and starts telling about Africa and China. He never wrote anything though, he just sticks to bread. Bread that tastes pretty good or rather – with the aid of the unexpected surprise of finding it here – is absolutely delicious. It seems such an innocent cultural export product to me, the culture of bread. Having a little bakery in a small street of Leon, Nicaragua, proudly offering French bread to tourists like me and the locals, I find it less aggressive than when he was offering cars or electronic circuits. Here’s why. There is no imaginative sign “eat bread everyday” in the window of his shop. Such a sign might be saying “hey, what about a croissant every once in a while?” Nothing like the huge imaginative neon-lit billboard that is installed as soon as a carmaker or electronic-circuit-producer open in a new country, saying “drive H*nda every day”, “become dependent on your F*rd just like everybody else”, “drive to work with your T*y*ta to pay for it”. I might be wrong, as I often am, but please consider the theory of the alternative window sign. My French host asks me why I seem so absent.
“O, nothing, it’s good to be in a real French croissanterie again, it feels like home.”
Afternoon: I write in Cafe Latino, as heavy rain pours out of the sky and I stay here with my computer until it’s dry again. Have dinner in another friendly comedor that is still open and serves a delicious melonshake. I go to bed early. I plan to take the early bus to San Salvador tomorrow. It will be another tough ride crossing through the country of Honduras and I need my sleep. But I don’t leave you without a little dialogue.
Consider this: CONTACT.
“Shall we begin?” the antihero says eagerly.
-“Yes, tell me what you’ve got. I play the role of the listener-redeemer.”
“It is… how can I put it… there is no entrance.”
-“Try harder. No entrance is not what you pay me 70 bucks an hour for.”
“It is… maybe this… you cannot even begin to imagine the darkness of my soul… but I know, I know, I’m expressing myself suboptimally again.”
-“You enjoy to scare people don’t you?” The listener-redeemer yawns.
“That’s not it. I try to express the real me”, the antihero says.
-“And why is that so important?”
“It’s what we are supposed to do, I mean, as human beings.”
-“And you got that from some book or something?”
“No! No! Everybody knows that. It’s the cure for loneliness. We all have to express our inner self.”
-“You don’t need to express yourself to me pal, you need to get laid.” The listener-redeemer gives him a wink.
“Pardon me? I don’t pay 70 bucks for this type of advise.”
-“Well, I’m giving it to you anyway.” He looks at his watch.
“Okay, maybe I’ll do that, but please let me try to express myself to you first.”
-“I won’t hold you back.”
“Well then, it is… you are so far from understanding even the tiniest bit of the dark forest of my inner angst.”
-“You see. You can do it.”
-“We’re getting closer.”
“Rubbish! You’ll never get any closer to me. It’s not possible” the antihero mumbles cynically.
-“Okay, I know, but keep trying” the listener-redeemer laughs.
“Good. You know something about spelunking?”
-“Yes, it’s a hobby of mine. I like to bring cured clients to explore some natural depths after all those mental depths.”
“Good. You are in a cave looking for the real me, but you are in the wrong cave, at the wrong time, looking the wrong way, and you wear the wrong shoes. All wrong! Lightyears away from the obscure loneliness of my soul.”
“You are walking on slippery rocks, bats are everywhere but they don’t scare you with all your professional experience, they can scream you wouldn’t notice and and you feel so good with your flashlight like a real hero you light every stalagmite but I’m not there. Keep going! Keep going! you say with this disdainful smile on your moist red lips. You think you’ll find me but you are so far off, pal.”
-“Well done. I’m proud of you. You can do it. We’re almost there.”
“No, we’re nowhere! And especially YOU are nowhere. Don’t you see you’re absolutely lost in this cave. I just told you about it. I told you. I told you. Ha! Can’t you see how lost you are?”
-“Good job. I think I understand you now. You see? Your 70 bucks were well spent this hour. Speaking of which: time’s up” the listener-redeemer says.
“O horror! Must I pay for your totally wrong idea of me? Shame on you, I don’t want this. I don’t want you” the antihero yells.
-“You can pay next week, when you’ve calmed down” the listener-redeemer continues calmly.
“Yes I will pay you next week, and you know how? I’ll pay you with a bullet! That’s how. My dad has a gun, a very big gun to hunt game you know, and I’ll bring it and shoot you. You think I can’t do that don’t you? Like everybody else.”
-“I think you’re perfectly capable of it. I’ve signed some life insurance policies so I’m prepared. I’m not afraid of you. You are afraid of me.”
“You keep pestering me. I am serious. I will bring the gun.”
-“Does your dad approve?”
“Ah! So you think you can get me on that? You play your dad-tactics like you studied them with your stupid books? I see what you’re doing. But not with me you don’t – my dad would have approved of it.”
-“Well. See you next week then. Don’t forget the gun.”
“You’re playing a game with me! You don’t take me serious.”
-“I can take you serious. Just pay me another 70 bucks.”
“Okay okay, I’ll pay. Just take me serious, please?”
The antihero sits down in his chair and stares absent-mindedly as the listener-redeemer pours himself some whisky and makes himself comfortable on the couch.
“So you see… you cannot even begin to imagine the darkness of my soul, the immense loneliness and pains I’ve been through during my life. Nothing, nothing you and anyone like you can ever discover about what’s going on in the unfathomable depths of my mind.”