Once upon a time, a boy was born whom his parents named Jonathan. He was a beautiful baby boy and his parents were extremely happy when he came to this world. When they drove home from the hospital, his father had said: “This is the happiest day of my life.” Little did he know that it would also be his last. For when he turned to the passenger’s seat, on which his wife sat satisfied with their child in her arms, to take a good look at his son, he did not see that an SUV was only a mere second away from collision.
Jonathan’s parents died almost instantly in the crash. But, miraculously, Jonathan survived. The driver of the SUV found the baby, weeping and still wrapped in his mother’s dead and broken arms. When he took the gorgeous baby from the car and looked at his beautiful, extraordinary eyes, he melted.
When Jonathan’s family learned about the tragic accident, everyone hurried to the hospital. Everyone had looked and smiled at the baby’s beautiful face. And when the question “Who should take care of him” arose, everyone had volunteered. But one of them was more persistent than the rest, someone most unlikely: Uncle William.
Uncle William was the oldest of Jonathan’s uncles. He had inherited most of his parent’s money when they died, but he had never spent it. He had never been married and thus had no children of his own. He did not care much for having a family, but when he saw little Jonathan lying in that cot, the parent within him, that had never before had the chance to awake, insisted he should take care of the baby.
Uncle William lived in a fairly isolated cottage in the countryside and he was rather self-sufficient. He grew his own vegetables and, with a watermill, he produced the required electricity for the few electric appliances that he owned. He had little need for the outside world except for the occasional visit to the market in the nearest town where he stocked up on meat and everything else that he could not produce himself.
Jonathan grew up handsomely and that did not come as a shock to Uncle William. Uncle William taught him all about talking, reading, writing, cooking, gardening, and most other necessary basic skills. And at the age of 10, Jonathan had already written a lot of stories. Uncle William had read and loved each and every one of them. Jonathan was indeed very talented in writing. For a long time, writing was almost all he did. He wrote of simple things like the smell of vegetable soup, but also of complex things, like how much he loved Uncle William, but also about the fact that he did, in fact, feel empty.
Jonathan and Uncle William rarely received visitors. Few took the effort to come and see the two since they lived so far from civilisation. Their family had all but forsaken them and the only one to ever visit was the Larsson family. Mr and Mrs Larsson were old friends of Uncle William’s. They had a daughter, Rose, who occasionally came along.
When Rose was there, Jonathan would show Rose his latest stories and they would both enjoy each other’s company. Rose would complement Jonathan about his stories and she would suggest that Jonathan would become the greatest writer ever. Jonathan would, in turn, immediately dismiss the idea, while secretly hoping that it would actually happen. For he desired nothing more than becoming the best writer that ever lived.
It was this appearance of occasional outside contact that kept Jonathan going, because besides this little taste of the outside world and his writing, he had little to live for.
And so, several years passed. Jonathan would write, Uncle William would teach, and Rose would read and love. But this harmony was broken when Uncle William died, unexpectedly, from a heart attack four months after the Larssons had moved away. This left young Jonathan all alone. Jonathan was convinced his uncle had died of loneliness and he knew that, if he would continue to live in solitude like his uncle did, he would not make it either.
He would have to go and set out into the world all by himself. Even though Jonathan inherited a great deal of money, this would prove a daunting task. Rose had told Jonathan about the great film-makers in Hollywood and that Jonathan would surely make it there one day. Jonathan decided that, because his old life had obviously gone, he would set out and go there, to Hollywood. So, he took all the money his uncle had left him and put it in a large bag.
Jonathan had never really been to a big city and thus he was extremely excited to go. He went to the airfield and after getting his plane ticket, he went through customs. While there, he greeted the two officers and asked what this was all about. The officers looked at each other and told Jonathan to shut up and put his bags on the line. When Jonathan retrieved his bags, he thanked the officers, but still would like to know what their function was. The officers called Jonathan a “trouble maker” and a “wise guy”. They took Jonathan with them and, after having his bags searched, they told Jonathan it seemed alright and that he could go on, but they fined him for causing a scene. So, the officers kept several thousands of dollars with them and let the kid continue. As he walked away, Jonathan heard one of the officers say: “Can you believe this?”
On the plane, Jonathan travelled business class and he had the greatest lunch he had had in a long time.
The onion soup he had for starters had a mouth-watering smell and that smell certainly did not create a false sense of what was to come, for the taste was also extremely gratifying. Next, he had an exquisite steak and the very sight of it already made Jonathan’s taste buds go haywire. And as a desert, he got an extremely well prepared chocolate soufflé.
The stewardess had very kindly asked for a tip, which Jonathan was only too happy to provide. A hefty one-hundred-dollar bill disappeared into the stewardess’ pocket.
After the plane had touched down and Jonathan had left the airport, he saw the great city of Los Angeles before him and thought to himself, “This place will definitely have what I need.”
Jonathan was surprised by the amount of people walking up and down the streets and the masses of cars driving around. Being used to being the only one in the land, he thought to himself: “This cannot be healthy, so many people in so little space.” And the buildings! There were so many houses cramped together in so little space. “Where would they grow their vegetables, their herbs?”
Jonathan saw some neighbours arguing about the height of their fence, they were both quite angry and Jonathan was confused. He did not understand how two people could get so mad about something so small.
As he looked to his left, he saw a man throw a can to the ground. As Jonathan tried to figure out why the man did not walk the extra yard to a garbage bin, a girl spit her chewing gum right onto the street and another man dropped the remainder of his half-smoked cigarette to the floor. It hurt Jonathan deeply to observe the odd townsmen’s behaviour.
Jonathan walked and walked and it was getting late. He had come across a diner, where he had a truly mediocre meal. The waitress was extremely repulsive. Her hair was thinning and did not appear to have been cleaned recently. Her face was covered in make-up, but even such a thick layer could not mask the hideousness of her face. She had a small wound on her cheek that was infected. The mere sight of her was off-putting. When she finally came to Jonathan’s table, she was chewing gum and she did not ask for his order. Rather, she remained silent and gazed, with her foul eyes, at Jonathan until she got annoyed and screamed: “So are you gonna order some’in or what”? Staring into the rain outside, Jonathan realised that Los Angeles was not what he thought it would be. He sighed and thought of Rose, of how she made him happy, of how he loved her. He thought he might have been better off to try and find Rose instead. She would have made him happy and it would all be okay. She would, again, read and love his prose and that was really the only thing Jonathan ever wanted.
After Jonathan had finished his meal, he tipped the waitress a hundred dollars, he had seen other customers leave some extra money for her and remembered how the stewardess had loved his tip. He asked the waitress if she knew a place where he could sleep. She, suddenly being friendlier, told him about a place. A ‘bed and breakfast’, she called it.
“And could you please tell me how I could get there?”
“Ah, I dunno... like, eh... right when ya leave the diner and left somewhere farther down the street. Somewhere that way, I guess.”
Jonathan left the diner and went right and walked on far down the street. Since he did not know at which intersection he was to go left, he walked on and on. Then, when he was sure the waitress had meant for him to turn left somewhere already, he turned left.
It was getting late, few cars were still on the road and it was dark; Jonathan was getting tired. He also felt as though the houses were getting smaller and less well maintained the farther he walked. The gardens seemed to be getting smaller too and so did everything else. In the rain, he felt uncomfortable and discouraged. With no idea where he was or how to get to the bed and breakfast, he wandered the streets, alone.
But then, he saw a man walking on the street, Jonathan walked up to him. The man did not seem so bad, for some reason.
Jonathan said: “Excuse me, sir. I am Jonathan, could you help me? I need to get to a bed and breakfast; do you know where I should go? I am a writer and I have no idea where I am. Could you help me?”
After the man did not respond, Jonathan said: “I can pay you for the directions; I have a lot of money on me, if that is what interests you.”
But the man walked on, unbothered by Jonathan’s voice. Jonathan took the man’s arm as to force him to notice him. The man turned around and Jonathan did not know what was going on. But the man just looked into the distance, his eyes were off and he was holding a white cane. A faint white circle resembled something of an iris.
“Sir, could you help me? I need to get to a bed and breakfast.”
The man did not respond and continued to look at a distant void. Jonathan tried one last time: “Sir, I need a bed and breakfast, could you please tell me where I can find one?”
His eyes blank, the man put his hand on Jonathan’s shoulder and spoke firmly and piercingly: “Leave.”
Beaten, Jonathan let the man walk on. He looked around him. He knew not where he was, where he was going or what he would do to fix it. But, to be honest, he no longer cared.
Just as Jonathan had decided to try and find his way back to the airport, another man came from an alley and slowly approached Jonathan. The man walked with a slight limp and he looked like he could fall over at any time. He wore torn, dirty clothes and the rain had put his greasy hair in front of his staring eyes. The man spoke.
“Hey, kid, I heard ya say ya’re a writer.”
The man had lost a few of his teeth and his breath smelled like the compost heap from Uncle William’s farm.
“Hello, that’s right, sir, I am.”
“Well, this is ya lucky day after all, kid. I know someone who works in the filming industry. I could introduce ya to him, if ya want.”
Jonathan became all exited at hearing this unexpected, pleasant news.
“Really? That would be great! What exactly is his job?”
“He, erm, he is a producer.”
“Wow, could you tell me what films he has made?”
“Well, eh, why don’t ya come with and ask him ya’self?”
“What’s his name?”
“They call him Big Johnson. Ya’re very pretty, you know. I think he is gonna put ya in a starring role. Yes, very pretty.”
Another man, who looked equally afflicted as the other, came forth from the alley and approached. All of a sudden, that dark feeling Jonathan had when the man first walked out of the alley returned. He looked at the two men, who obviously knew each other.
“Hey Bob, think the boss’ll like this one? He’s pretty.”
“Yeah, I think so. What you think’s in the bag?”
“Think he said there’s dough in there.”
“Oh, now isn’t that nice.”
“Why don’cha come with us, kid?”
© Copyright 2017, Julien P. Estourgie. All rights reserved.