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The Road that Ended in the Sea
 
 
Tokyo Man

Once upon a time, there was a divorced man called Manolo, who decided to ride the entire continent in his 4x4 Jeep.


He took with him Belinda, his beautiful 9-year-old daughter, and having taken books and provisions for several months, drove his Jeep onto the nearest highway.

Manolo and Belinda had decided to drive the entire day through the country, while studying mathematics, Geography and Literature, the three subjects that Belinda liked the most.

After several months on the road, they stopped on a gas station, where a teacher called Ilma recriminated Manolo for his enterprise.

“Don’t you know that Belinda should be at School?,” she said.

“I'm her teacher,” answered Manolo unwilling to start a discussion about his private life, “I’m sure that my daughter gets a better education from me than any of your pupils.”

That was an impertinence that Ilma, who also happened to be a witch, could never forgive.

She decided then, to send Manolo to the road that ends in the sea, a bewitched track from where no one had ever returned.

“You should go westwards,” Ilma said smiling, “we have beautiful cliffs near Rosewood, about twenty miles from here. There is nothing as amazing as seeing the waves bursting against those rocks.”

“Will we go, Dad?” asked Belinda with sparkles in her eyes.

“Perhaps...,” muttered Manolo.

“You must go!” the teacher insisted, “but before allow me to offer you a cup of tea.”

Manolo accepted with a shy gesture. Alas! He was unaware that Ilma had a dangerous potion in her purse able to recall demons to her aid - this, said in less spiritual terms, meant that she was ready to give to Manolo a powerful and expensive drug able to sharpen his most stubborn genes. Belinda, on the other hand, was going to be put to sleep with a cheaper narcotic.

 “It tastes funny,” said Belinda as she finished her tea.

“Now you should have a nap,” said the teacher.

“No, thanks,” replied Belinda.

“Would you give us some directions on how to get to the coastline?” asked Manolo.

“With pleasure,” said the witch displaying a worn-out map.


II

Minutes later Manolo was driving through an unpaved road.

Belinda was feeling her eyelids loaded with iron.

“I don’t see other cars!” said Belinda in an effort to keep her eyes open.

“We must arrive before three!” Manolo exclaimed.


Belinda started to cry as she realized that the road was becoming narrower and steeper.

“I feel dizzy,” she muttered.

“We are almost there!” said Manolo, “Look at the sea! It’s just before us!”

Belinda saw a deep blue savannah flicking off and on from the distance.

“The road is too dangerous...” she said before falling sleep.

Overtaken by the witches’ tonic, Manolo was unable to grasp how dangerous their situation was. The edges of the road track were now fading off over a rocky ground. He could see an abysm before him, and further down the rocks where so many men and children had died under the malign influence of Ilma.

“We are almost there”! he repeated unable to stop, but then, suddenly remembering the patience of the Lord in the cross, Manolo was able to understand how absurd his demeanour was.

“Oh, God!” he screamed as he pressed his breaks, “this road ends in the sea!”

And then he realised that it was too late.

He felt his 4x4 Jeep sliding down the cliff into a void.

But then the Lord, who knew his noble heart, and who had decided that his time in paradise had not come yet, ordered the Jeep to jump upwards and to his right, where it kindly fit into a small cave that his angels had carved from the second day of the creation of the world.

When Manolo and Belinda were rescued by a navy helicopter, they told the journalists that they were transported onto the air by the miraculous intervention of the Lord.

“Of course!” a journalist exclaimed with irony, unwilling to admit the intervention of Jesus Christ in the life of the upright, “but not everyone gets such miracles, you know."

Manolo asked why.

"There was a woman, a school teacher I think, who happened to be overlooking the landscape just as you had your accident. She suffered a stroke and didn't survive to tell the tale.  Perhaps she was too impressed to see you falling  down from the cliff. Now , tell me Mr. Believer, why wasn't she saved?”

Manolo went silent, for only the Lord could tell the why.



Beneath a bridge in Tokyo
Lives a dispossessed clerk
He mourns his sallow shape
On the waters of a deranged marsh
He owns a cracked pot
A fugitive of his own derision
He contemplates his old bureau
A gleam from a far-flung skyscraper

Lurking for death he wills
Prosperity to his beloved ones
His wife may remarry a clerk
Fit to bring up his lost spawn

A documentary-maker
Who sleeps in a 5-star hotel
Comes from England to this haven
He wears blue shirt, red tie, white pants

A scrawny girl escorts him
A 100-pound-an-hour translator
Serene as his tender wife
Vibrant as his forsaken daughter

«Why are you here?», she asks
He stutters. «We'll pay you», she adds
Two cameramen pierce his back
And inhumanly he cries

I heard him on TV, and I saw him
Stumbling on the waters
To hide, as an ostrich
His face beneath the ground

Merciless to his bereavement
The journalist highlights his duty
«Recession hits so hard Japan
That this fellow can not even talk»

Thus the onslaught goes on
As a carcass discover on a road
As a ship swallowed by the sea
A pariah may amuse the world




A letter
I was able to write two words
When Dad walked away from home
Our garden went so empty
That even the nettle saddened and dried up

Mum carried on for us
Her smile was a pale layer on a wound
I shared her low-tone cries
From my bed, in silence
Years of sleepless nights

Standing on the porch
Where Mum last kissed my Dad
She used to iron our shirts
With a lifelong tender sight
Leaned on our window
She wandered aimlessly on the road
Long shadows on her cheeks
Were heralds of the night

My melancholy brought back
All my offences, minor errors
«Perhaps I had upset my Dad
And Mum, my dear Mum,
Would she leave me one day as well?»
I embrace her barren lap
But my hands were tiny hands

Trembling over my first letter
«I miss you», I  wrote
«Mum misses you, we miss you»
The ink dried up and I went out
To the nearest postal box
I took care nobody saw me
Pushing a piece of silky paper 
In a slit over the sidewalk

And my folded love went there
I was so afraid they would reject me
With no envelope, no stamps
Without knowing his address


A Pet
Our home was a ponderous castle
Ringed by a blue sky
I remember our joy on days of rain
The fore road was not paved yet
Spotting our Christmas clothes
We dallied endlessly
In a bog of clay

A yellow-stripped cat
Loitered wildly on the roof next door
And a grey rat on our patio
Do you remember sister?
Our little hands used to feed her
With soups Mum cooked
So laboriously for us

One day Dad discovered us
All we three together
He brought us to our bed
To be cradled by Mum
As we sleep we heard his hasty steps
On the patio, over the grass
Our pet never returned
Where did she go?









Hugo Santander Ferreira © First Film Productions 2011