|I asked him whether he hated birds. First he feeds them and later throws whelk shells and sand at them. He said he hates them more than he loves them and right after he feeds them he is being filled with the desire to chase them away, to throw things at them and curse them all with abominable swears in his mind. He said he didn’t use swears out loud in years. He did so, because birds must not get used to people and should keep away from them. People were jealous of the birds on the inside, and on a subliminal level. That’s because they are free and can fly wherever they want to. And people couldn’t. They could not even walk where they please, let alone fly. That’s the reason he loved them and hated them at the same time. He stood on the lifeguard post on the empty beach. It was the end of October. The sky was cloudy and grey, and strong wind was blowing from the sea. Sea’s autumn wind. Wet and bitter. Gloomy. The lifeguard post provided shelter. He was smoking a hand-rolled cigarette. It was firmly squeezed between his thumb and index finger. The smoke was winding around his fingers like a crawling white snake, intertwining into his white beard. Because of the smoke, it has become slightly yellow and huge at the same time, as if it was a fuzzy bush. His face was fissured with wrinkles. Not repulsive, but somehow pleasant. Right where they should be. And his eyes…His eyes were vivid. As if they were the eyes of a young man. But also very sad. Yet they glowed in the dark when he spoke. The wind was blowing and he was telling me about her. This is how I remember him. Excited. Trembling. It was years ago. I was young back then. I told him about my girl. He only smiled, tapped me on my back and said:
-Oh, my lad..., my lad….”I must admit I didn’t get it.
We never spoke since then. He didn’t say where he lived or what his name was. And now it’s September again, after so much time, already aware of the old man meant, I was on the same beach, looking at the lifeguard post but he was not there. Of course he would not be there. He was already old at the time. It was empty without him. The beached looked like an orphan. I went to a beach bar to get a coffee and asked for him. They told me last year he went into the sea with his boat, never to return again. I didn’t say anything. I hung around for a while and went to the lifeguard post. I sat down and started cleaning the sand between my fingers with a small stick. Then I stood up and shook off the sand that got in my thick beard. I’ve been growing it since the summer. I decided to sit on the top so I can look from above. I was just about to climb up when few seagulls showed up. They came close, as if they knew me. I reached to my pocket and took the sandwich I had for later. I tossed some crumbs at the birds. They came really close. They ate it all. Then I bent, took a handful of sand and some shells and started throwing it at them until they flew away. I brought out my bag of tobacco, rolled a cigarette and started smoking. The smoke wound around my fingers like a white snake and started crawling and intertwining in my still black beard. Then I heard a voice. I turned to see a young man, no further than a meter away. “
–Why are you throwing sand at the seagulls? You give them food and then you cast shells at them? You don’t like birds?”
I looked at him perplexed. I took a drag from my cigarette, threw it and ran away.