Hi guys! I decided to try publishing some fiction around here. This webnovel is called “Under the Cover” the idea for the novel’s name came from the idea of “the things you see and the things you don’t” from Frédéric Bastiat. The story happens in a fictional world similar to the US of the 20th century, it’s a story about growth, love and responsibility. I hope you guys enjoy it!
That day I arrived at school after a morning of hard work. I just need to attend the night classes but there’s no better place to spend my afternoons than the school library.
At the entrance of the library, granny Jane is indifferent as always.
“Good afternoon granny Jane!”
I always greet granny Jane enthusiastically, and always receive the same cold “hmph” as an answer. But don’t mistake granny Jane by an unpleasant person, I really love this kind of people, they have clear rules. With granny Jane as long as you don’t mess up in the library, you will be fine.
As always I go to the deepest part of the library, that’s the place where the least popular and best books are placed. And that’s also the place where you can find a certain existence:
“Hey old Spencer, don’t you have any better place to go?”
Old Spencer is a mysterious guy, he appears to be middle-aged but is always here in the deepest part of the school library. I hope this guy isn’t some kind of pervert who likes to prey on handsome and intelligent boys like me.
“Little Markus please stop calling me ‘old’, I’m not much older than your own mother.”
“My mother is an old hag you know?”
My afternoons have been this way for a long time. I have studied here in the Elysium Institute of Education for as long as I can remember, and for as long as I can remember every afternoon I greet granny Jane, come deep in the library and spend many hours reading an uncountable amount of books and playing with this morally suspicious old man. Even through this old man is lazy, penniless and a bit shameless, he is quite trustworthy.
“Hey kid, what’s this sick smile on your face? Were you thinking about something nasty?”
Shit! Sometimes I wonder if this fucker can read minds…
“No, no, I was just remembering something that happened today.”
“Oh! Something good happened?”
Something good? This fucker really know how to piss off somebody. I just woke up at 4:30 AM went straight to work at the pier close to Cynthia’s apartment, spent great part of the morning carrying heaven defying heavy boxes and… Oh! That’s Right! That Happened!
“In fact old man, something good really happened. Listen, those fuckers at the pier are always hungry and penniless, even through we work all morning, we barely earn enough to eat for the day. So I had an idea! I left the pier an hour earlier and set up a stall just outside the pier selling pretzels! Those fuckers from the pier always says they are penniless, but as soon as they smell something good they spit every penny out of their pockets! Ha Ha Ha Ha!”
“Kid you are evil…”
“Shut up old man! I was doing them a favor, if they had to go back home to eat, they would spend on the bus and take at least two hours to come back to the pier. If you just look at the money, I helped them to cut the expenses in half.”
“Whatever is not my money anyway…”
“Old man you are evil…”
We both laughed at this exchange, but amidst our smiles we heard a sound: “GROOOOWL”
“Sorry old man I didn’t have time eat. I will eat some of the leftovers from the stall, look out for grandma Jane.”
“ 50% !”
“Fuck old man! I only have three pretzels left, be a good old man, do your job and I will give you one.”
As I said... Penniless and Shameless.
“Kid it’s good to be hardworking, but you have to remember to eat.”
“It’s not my fault, on the way back I was about to board the bus, but I couldn’t. That old lump of scrap iron was too crowded and so I had to give my place to a pregnant woman, I came to the school on foot. Fuck! I’m not the father, so why should I be punished if that fucker can’t keep her legs closed?”
“Kid we are men, we sacrifice whenever we find something worth it. Besides… Are you sure you are not the father? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!”
“Fuck old man! Stop joking with my virgin’s heart. Besides, that’s what I don’t understand, why would an unborn brat be worth of any sacrifice from me? It would already be a blessing if the kid don’t rob me down the street when it grows up.”
“Kid, the day you find a single thing worth sacrifice, you will see the world in a new light.”
“Is there really anything worth sacrifice in this world old man?”
To those words the old man only kept silent, as if he had been wondering the same question for much longer than me. But he couldn’t find an answer, so old Spencer had no other option but to change the subject:
“Kid you’ve been in school for a long time, isn’t time to graduate?”
“As if I could. That old hag back home told me that if I graduated I don’t need to ever come back.”
“It’s all because that damn government program, every mother receives a bit of cash if all their kids still in school.”
“But you’re not exactly a ‘kid’ anymore.”
“Well… The officials don’t think so, even though I’m already 19 years old, they say I can’t be considered an adult if I don’t finish the formal education or drop out completely.”
Governments are strange beings, with the motto of fighting poverty they create those troublesome programs, thanks to that I have to waste my nights in useless classes. Fighting poverty my ass!
“Your mother is not a good person.”
Those were unusual words for the old man, he almost never criticized my mother. But nevertheless it was true, I knew that fact better than anyone, In fact, the old man statement sparked something inside me and suddenly I remembered an old story.
“Hey old man do you remember when you met me?”
“Of course I do, you were just a little brat roaming through the street.”
“Yeah, but have I ever told you why I was there?”
“I never asked because everybody has their own problems.”
“It’s ok, I will tell you. That day Cynthia brought another boyfriend home, I just didn’t want to pass through that again, so I went out for a stroll. Life was never kind to me, but that week was specially harsh. I walked between the alleys, I went so far I didn’t knew where I was. Then I arrived at a place with a lot of beautiful houses, there I stared through one the houses’ window. Inside there was a man teaching his kid to play chess while drinking tea. They were smiling and having fun, while I was tired, dirty yet fascinated… Then came the worst part, the man looked in my direction. He didn’t do anything, but I ran, when he looked at me I realized that this was not my place. Now I had to go back home, that was the worst part. I had to go back home and remember everyday with my own flesh that the life I saw through the window wasn’t my life. I didn’t want to go back yet so I went on aimlessly and ended up here.”
“Makes senses, all I remember is that little brat in front of the library. I brought you in and told you to come here every time you had nowhere else to go.”
That was really the case, the following years were good times, the old man taught me how to read, and always chatted with me when I needed. I calmly picked up a book from the shelf and sat down there pretending to read while reminiscing old memories. When the time came to go to the night classes, I got up and told the old man the words I’ve been keeping all those years:
“Thank you, old man.”
Listening to those words the old man wasn’t humble or sentimental, he just stared back at me, breathed deeply and said:
“Kid, you asked me if there was something in this world worth sacrificing for. Now I have an answer. I think the life you saw through the window is definitely something worth it, don’t you think?”
I didn’t answer the old man directly, I didn’t need to. Before the night classes I looked one last time at the old man. Perhaps even if I never saw anything through the window that day, there was still a thing worth the sacrifice.