A fictional story inspired from Rodney Bailey’s images.
There were once three little boys, Diego, Wally and Che (who’s last name started with a Z. which spurred his friends onto calling him Chez) who lived in the remotest land of The Republic of Cuba, an ever so tiny town resting peacefully on the coast overlooking the Cayman Trench approximately fifty miles west of Pico Turquino. These were the closest of friends any one had ever known. They did everything together from eating ropa vieja to riding their bicicletas and even walking along the river and flopping right down on the old river bank to read the poetry of their favorite poet, Dulce Maria Loynaz.
On a sunny and bustling Saturday Diego, Wally and Chez were strolling through town to a corner store called, “Todo,” when they crossed paths with an elderly gentleman puffing a cigar bigger than their cabezas. They were frightened slightly by this fellow even though they had seen him sitting around the streets nearly ever day. The children had a name for him. The name they called him was “canalon hombre,” which means, “gutter man.” Not a soul knew what to think of this ancient kook as he’d just sit around all the day and smoke his cigars and the most mysterious thing was that no one had ever heard him utter a palabra ( word). But something strange and tingling was in the air on this particular Saturday and the old kooky man finally spoke up when the three boys passed.
“Where you boys headed?”
Diego, Wally and Chez stopped dead in their tracks. They were frozen, yet tried to speak.
“Uh, um, well, we are…” Chez, noticeably stunned.
“Todo.” Wally blurted.
“Todo, huh? You know in the alley immediately before Todo’s entrance there are two doors. They say one leads to life and the other leads to death. Obedient kids, I’m told, humbly trot through the first door, which is the door to life, while disobedient children sprint dangerously into the second door and are never heard from again. Not many folks around here like to talk about the doors or even mess around near them for too long. It’s a scary thing if you think about it.
“Well, that is just a big fancy mito (myth) anyhow. We’re not afraid of no doors old man.” Wally proclaimed defiantly as Diego and Chez stood by holding their tongues.
“You can’t say I didn’t warn you. You lads run along now and go to Todo or do whatever you gotta do but remember what I told you about those doors.”
“Yeah, yeah.” said Wally.
“Sure thing.” said Diego.
“Okay, bueno.” uttered Chez.
As the boys proceeded to Todo they commenced chatter regarding the perplexing mind and story they had just encountered.
“You think he’s serious?” questioned Chez.
“Can’t be. That’s the most foolish talk I’ve heard from a bumming dolt in ages.” remarked Wally.
“I don’t know, Wally,” added Diego, “he seemed quite surely to believe it.”
“Ah, you two shape up. It was an absurd and fantastical show. We all know his dad told him that story, and his dad’s dad told it to his dad before that, all to keep us runts out of the alley and in the streets where the adults can keep watch on us and keep us from the real excitement.”
“Real or not real, I say we don’t go anyhow. Let’s not mess around today.” suggested Diego.
“Bueno. I’m all aboard your train Diego. My obedient bags are packed.” spoke Chez, affirming.
“I don’t know you guys. I mean, it is a Saturday, and we’re not doing anything else. I say we just go and give it a peek and maybe, just maybe stick our young heads in the doors and see what lies behind the knob.” said Wally, attempting to entice.
Chez and Diego pondered Wally’s flaming ambition and uncontrollable curiosity for a moment and hesitantly and slowly they decided to follow Wally down the alley and check for themselves if life or death truly were hiding their faces directly behind the doors.
About halfway down the alley was the first door. There was nothing apparently remarkable about the door. But the boys recalled what the old cigar smoking man had said, “Obedient kids trot humbly through the first door, which is the door to life.”
Diego and Chez both stared at the first door and after a minute or two talked to Wally and told him they were going to go through it.
“What about the second door? Don’t you want to know what’s behind the second door?” Wally asked.
“Wally, you know what the man said, “Disobedient children sprint dangerously into the second door and are never heard from again.” Chez warned.
“You’re really still believing that hocus pocus rotten apple type talk? I’m going over here to this second door. You two go wherever you feel like.” Wally said.
And so they did. Chez and Diego opened up the first door and walked through. To their complete amazement and disbelief, they were walking through some magical garden filled with all the fresh fruit and vegetables you could ask for or ever want. And there were bicycles all around for any little kid to ride wherever he pleased within the garden. And, off in the distance, they saw something that caused them to be completely speechless. It was the old man that everyone called, “canalon hombre.” He was lying on an old rug on the side of a hill due north of the garden, smiling. He was there with his wife, who also on the rug. As they caught the eyes of Diego and Chez, their hands flew into the air, waving the two young boys over.
“Hello, Mr. How are you? What is this place?”
“I think I told you lads once before but I will surely find no issue in saying it again. This is life. You chose the first door, the obedient door, and found life.”
“Wow!” exclaimed the boys. “But wait a second. That means your story wasn’t just a story after all and you were telling the truth. Which means you were telling the truth about the second door as well, right?”
“I’m afraid to say you are right.” the old man said softly.
Chez and Diego dropped their heads for a moment and when they lifted their eyes they asked if they could step out for a brief second and see if Wally had stayed true to his decision to glance and venture inside the second door. The old man granted them permission and the boys opened the door of life and looked out into the alley. They didn’t see Wally. They never heard from Wally again.
Story by T. Karl D.