No Hope, No Fear
The sheet barely covered the body. It was lying face down and he stared at it for a while, trying to determine for how long it had been there considering the lividity of the head. Twenty minutes, maybe. Two hours at most. Then he realized that the man had no shirt and that he was also barefoot. Sometimes the wind lifted the sheet, letting him see the tattoo on his left forearm. Old, blurred and dim. A mermaid or some other sea monster shaped out of a woman.
There were no curious people on the street, no police, and no ambulance to take him away either. No one. He thought that the man was alone in death as perhaps he was in life, and that probably no one heard his last words, and that none of this mattered anymore. It was 13:07 of a June afternoon and on the sidewalk there was no one else but the dead man and him.
On the other side of the street the restaurant looked busy as on previous occasions. Through the window he saw the people eating there, feigning nonchalance while the waiters rushed in taking and serving the orders. The maître closely followed the movements of the employees, and with brief but firm nods he forced them to rush even more. That bustle was now alien to him. Preposterous. He was surprised to think so, but giving in to that feeling made him feel better and the pain from a few hours ago slowly faded away. He stayed outside, watching the trees and listening to the wind rubbing the leaves together.
He recalled the events of that morning. The clashes and the frustration of the previous months. He replayed the faces of every single one of his subordinates and discovered that he could not associate all of them with a name. And then he thought of his son.
He picked up the cell phone out of instinct when he felt the vibration on his pocket, but he stared at the screen for a few seconds before answering.
His secretary informed him that he was already twenty minutes late to the lunch meeting. She asked if any problems had arisen. She asked whether they should wait for him, if there was anything she could do. She asked him where he was.
— Mister Seagrave, are you all right?
He remained silent for a few seconds before saying that he thought so, that now he was fine indeed.
After hanging up and realizing that at some point he would get rid of the phone, he looked for the last time at the photographs that Penelope had sent him. Fifth anniversary. Two years had passed and now he could not relate the name of his son with a face. It was time to go home.