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 After two weeks of walking Jack had gotten as far as somewhere in the desert in east Arizona. He was backpacking on foot along route 66. By now he wished he had decided on leaving in winter rather then in spring, the heat at midday here in the desert was already unbearable. Jack reached for his water flask, unscrewed it and put his lips on the mouth of the flask. And as he flung his head back with the flask on his mouth he quickly noticed a lack of the satisfying sensation of water running in his mouth. Like most people would do, he tried to look inside the flask to reaffirm that he had actually run out of water here in this desolate part of this Arizona desert with the blazing sun on his head. He looked around to see if he could find out where to go for water. Jack couldn’t believe his luck when after a a minute or so of scanning the horizon with his eyes, he actually found a building in the far distance. Without giving it a second thought he picked up his backpack and headed for that building, which he figured would be his best shot for finding drinkable water in the vicinity. After half an hour he reached the building which turned out to be an old diner. Jack thought his luck to be getting better and better.


He opened the glass door and was met with a shabby nineteen sixties interior design. Behind the counter the waitress had her back turned towards him and was talking to the cook; an older man with a beat up face that told him he had seen his fair share of misery in his life. In the far corner away from the entrance there was another man seated at the window. He just stared outside with an empty plate and half a glass of water in front of him. The guy looked incredibly disheveled. Most people Jack met here on route 66 had a weathered look like they had seen the worst from the alien attack 5 years ago. But this guy looked worse than that. This guy looked like he had seen a few circles of hell which few other people might have seen. By a far contrast the guy had the most beautiful vibrant eyes with a bright golden color that made them seem like they had their own internal light. Jack fell in love with those eyes in that second and together with that feeling came the realization, far too late to react cool to the whole thing, that the guy was looking straight at him and he was caught staring, big time. The mysterious guy didn’t move a muscle. He just kept staring back at Jack, which made the whole situation awkward to say the least. Jack finally pulled away his stare and focused his eyes on the waitress.

“Good day, miss” he said and started walking towards the mysterious eyes. He found himself trying to put as much swagger in his step as he possibly could. In that moment the waitress turned around and looked at him walking by and started laughing loudly at him. Jack instantly knew why she laughed and that destroyed every bit of confidence he had anywhere in his body. As a result his swag turned into a stumble, mostly over his own two feet and a chair which he pretended to be in his way. Jack finished his failing swagger walk with a bumpy landing on the bench at the nearest window booth he could find. He looked up to see if the mysterious guy was looking and he found him still looking straight at him. His weathered face, which displayed an abundance of sadness, suddenly started smiling and that made it light up like heaven itself had opened a door. Jack felt his face turn red and quickly pulled his eyes away from the man. What followed was a rush of emotions like he hadn’t felt since puberty. He was falling head over heels for this guy and there was no way back. That smile had sealed the deal for him and this guy would be in his heart until his heart would be destroyed. The last thing he expected to find on this trip was love. Because the last love of his life was killed in the alien attack.

Suddenly the mysterious guy stood up and started walking towards the door and just when it seemed he would pass by Jack he stopped and looked at Jack again with those mesmerizing and beautiful eyes. He bent over and put his hand flat on the table right in front of Jack while his other hand touched Jack’s face on his right jaw and part of his neck. A quiver traveling through Jack’s body made him weak in the joints and Jack felt lucky that he was already sitting down. Then the guy moved in some more and his lips touched Jack’s lips. Jack didn’t know that a kiss could be like this. So soft and so connected to each other. Everything they needed to know about each other flowed like water back and forth through this kiss. Then the guy pulled away and looked in Jack’s eyes again. The guy seemed to wait patiently for Jack to realize the kiss had ended. Like he knew what Jack was feeling.

“My name is Nephraim. Meet me tonight..”And just like that he stood up straight again and walked on towards the door like the kiss had never happened.

He watched the door close after Nephraim and then let his head hang. That’s when he noticed the map that seemed like it was burned in the table. Jack pulled out his minipad and took a photo of the map.

“Why are you taking pics of our table?” The waitress’s question startled Jack heavily and he almost dropped his minipad. When he looked down again the map had disappeared. No trace left of his entire encounter with the mysterious guy called Nephraim.

Jack felt he had to ask the waitress “Have you ever been kissed like that?.. By a total stranger, I mean.”

The waitress looked at him like she was seeing water burn “What kiss?!”

“Never mind..I’d like a big bottle of water please. And one extra for the road.”


Inappropriate strangers; mourning in a small town.

It is hard for me to decribe just how angry I get when strangers approach me about my father’s death. And by strangers I mean people that know of me, but they have yet to have a proper conversation with me. The kind of people that you meet at the grocery store and at work all the time and you feel a need to smile and nod at them just for that reason, but really, you have no clue as to who those people really are. And then my dad dies in this freak accident while he was horsebackriding out in the countryside. Four months later I find myself in line at the register of the local supermarket when one of these strangers feels the need to turn around and actually start talking, or I should say monologing, about my dad’s death to me. So now, all people around me know that my dad died recently and they get these looks on their faces like they don’t really know how to behave anymore. They certainly do not want to get involved in this entirely awkward moment, so they opt to try and avoid any eye-contact with me or the monologuer. This woman just goes on and on about how she, sort of really but not really, grew up with my dad, which was entirely impossible as she was at least a decade younger then him. I just could not stop fake smiling. And all I really wanted to do was bash her head against something just to make the talking stop. It was ruining my one day of the week off by being reminded of this horrible loss in my life, yet again. Meanwhile she kept going, trying to make me believe that there was a connection between us that validated this annoyance from her towards me.

And then the cassier suddenly greets this talking woman, prompting her to shift her entire focus, mid-sentence, back on doing groceries. The talking woman pays and takes off, not even saying goodbye. And just like that, you’re back to being strangers, and I’m left with this miserable memory of my dad’s passing lingering in my head again.

All I wanted of this day was a little bit of peace and quiet, nothing more, nothing less.Instead, I have had to endure another day of being tormented by the memory of my father’s death which in turn remind me of my mom’s death and all related misery that came with both of them.

So I urge all those people who don’t really know me to just keep on smiling and saying absolutely nothing to me. I really do prefer that over the fake condoleances because I am fully aware of the fact that we really don’t have a connection that necessitates, or validates for that matter, any condoleances from you to me and vice versa.

Have a good day and just move the fuck on.

My beloved father Jan Vermeulen † 20th april 2011

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