The Combatant – #2

The heated air inside his daughter’s room greets him as a mother’s embrace, instantly soothing his spirit, softening the hardness he had tried to attain in the cold shower. This is the reason for not entering the room: it weakens him in the here and now. And the immediate is always more forceful in the soul of man.


(Read The Combatant – #1)

She is not old enough to value her room, but he has to admit that everything suits her. He recalls complaining when his wife wanted to hang wallpaper soon after he had painted the room. What is it for? Money was short at that time — as usual — and his daughter would not even notice. The wall was a color that could not be described with only one or two words: it was kind-of gray, kind-of green, kind-of beige. It was the color of an “ass when he flees,” as we say in Brazil, but it was fashionable and that was what mattered. The wallpaper was of another tone of the same color, only with small white flowers scattered across columns that were unaligned to each other, avoiding some of the monotony in the design.

He has always been a practical man. He analyzed what “made sense” and what did not, and acted accordingly. He always boasted of his logical reasoning, and applied it to everything, as if a syllogism or an equation always brought the solution. Not only had she chosen the more expensive type of wallpaper, but just one roll would not do; it would be a few centimeters short, and there was no other way but to buy a whole second roll. He suggested leaving one wall just with the paint, the paint she had said they must buy and which would now be made invisible, but, of course, she would not. It would lose harmony, she had said. Now, admiring his daughter sleep, he smiles with the sense of peace and harmony he feels. What is the equation that solves this?

His daughter sleeps on her side, hugging a twisted blanket, with part of her back exposed and part of her face covered. It’s as if the blanket was a stuffed pink crocodile that had tried one of those “death rolls“ with her in a play fight all over the crib, and suddenly, exhausted, they both had fallen asleep, embraced and curled up in that position, like great old friends. The innocence of the scene — amplified by the warmth of the room and the reddish little light that makes the white cradle flush and match his daughter’s skin — tries to take tears off his eyes, but he controls himself. She is the reason for everything. It is for her that he does what he does. Use it to strengthen yourself and cement your decision, not to soften it. She is his amulet to bring him to life, not to keep him from death, as an excuse for his fear. Save this image for when you need it. Forget it for now, and do your job. He tries to convince himself that it’s all for her, but he can not believe it.

He has another profession, one with a much better chance of good pay than the police, one where he does not have to risk his life or the well-being of his family. Why, then, did he let it go? Why, after all these years, he was now just a cop? Is this really what his daughter needs: that he devotes himself to being a good gladiator, a slave whose blood amuses the masses? Why not use his logical reasoning and find a more rational alternative? Is it really because of his sense of duty, because of his morality of someone who doesn’t run away, because of the “purity of combat” that he continues? Or is it because he does not know how to do anything else in life, because he allowed himself to be diminished by the hardships of everyday toil, and because he has resigned to a life of work shifts connected by an eternal recurrence of four-day cycles, one day living in death and three others dying in life?

He hates those moments. A beautiful scene like the one in front of him and he gets caught in circular thoughts that get him nowhere. It’s like he has to solve his entire life now or he will not be able to move anymore. Time stops. The new air-conditioning gets even quieter. The little moans of his daughter get even softer. Soon his ear adjusts and the silence becomes absolute. He no longer feels her baby smell, nor does he perceive the diffuse beam of light spreading through the furniture; silence monopolizes all his senses. Everything merges into a blur of sensations; similarities and differences lose meaning, bearings and directions lose context. He is confined inside his mind looking for answers, but not of his own accord. His mind simply ran away from reality, in such a manner as to get rid of the senses — he is pure thinking now. Pure idiotic thinking.

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