Paulino

It was around 2pm on a weekday. I remember because I was still in my classroom cleaning up. A shortened day, possibly one of the last of the semester since there were no students. It was the year after you had retired.

My phone rang and it was you. You were drunk. It was 2pm and you were at Musso and Frank’s and you were drunk. It was good to hear from you. I went through opening pleasantries but the alcohol in you quickly moved us to a closer and more familiar heart-felt banter.

We talked. We talked about all the things one talks about when drunk, which is to say about everything and nothing at all. We talked of things that made you laugh that wicked laugh you had, that witch’s laugh, that laugh that sounded like you guarded all the secrets of the universe and the meaning of life itself but weren’t allowed to share it, not outright anyway.

We talked and talked and talked for nearly an hour, then you got to it. You had a reason why you called.

“I gotta get outta here…but I called to tell you something, cabrón.”
“What is it?”
“I want to tell you something. I want to tell you that life is beautiful. I want to tell you that life is wonderful and that you should enjoy every fucking second of it. You hear me, cabrón?”
“I got it, Papa. I got you.”

I got you.

I was in my classroom and you were drunk at a bar and you called me, and at that moment you became a teacher again.

Thank you for the lessons, Viejo. A good journey to you.

s.e.l.a.