3. The LeprosyMan
Max suddenly noticed a strange creature in one of the workers' barracks of the deserted pumpjack. The creature was looking at him. His face was swollen, his eyes are red. The mucosa of the lower eyelid was seen, as it turned out from behind the eyelid. Some soupy liquid was dripping from his nose that he tried to keep back by sniffling, because he didn't have anything to wipe it with. His skin was healthy only in spots, it was covered with big, peelilng spots, on many places it there were wounds. He was the LeprosyMan.
Once he was born to be a man, but after his skin was getting dryer after the birth, it became inflammed, dry and cracked. He was diagnosed as incurable. He was given some cremes and released to wander into life. Being ugly, nobody took him serious anymore. "The one, who is ugly, shall die. He is only an useless parasite anyway."-thought the Disgust People. At school he was teased, later he found only short-term partners. Finally, at the peak of his life he realised, that his look is due to food allergies. Allergy leads to inflammation, inflammation leads to his symptoms. From this time on, he started to eat such foods, which were digestible to his body and he got all kind of histamine reductor pills from the pharmacy. He also got gels and drops for his eyes.
Max got to know all this from him himself. After overcoming his temporary disgust and fear, he started talking to him. There were many strange creatures in the Wasteland of the Immortals whom Max had learned a lot, why would he be other this time than those?
-"How come that you are here, not in the Community?"
"-The Disgust People in the cities don't want to live together with me, because I won't raise their status with my friendship and my sexual attraction power. Thus I can't live in the Loosenades. A Community would be an option, however, if I want to live there, I have to go my way. No matter if I get cured or not at the end.
They have tried to help me and are still trying. However, I'll never be that high-value kid, that was raised by them. The one who flies out of the nest and proudly flies beneath the deep blue sky. They are on the ground, because they cannot fly. But they can point upwards with their finger and tell the people: "Behold, watch. We raised him to be an eagle, and now he flies high proudly and free" - not, that's the bird I'm never going to be.
I'm a wounded bird in the nest, whose wings were shot by life. I would be happy to have my wings healthy, because a bird can only be happy when flying beneath the endless blue sky. As long as I'm in the nest, I need two things: food and cure for my wings. Because the cure is not enough: until my wings are healed I have to eat something. Without help I'm going to die of hunger.
So I'm crying for help. I get foot. But every time they give me food, they glue my wings and cut off my feathers. "Why would you wanna fly?" And they don't tell but think: proud thing is, when an eagle flies. When our eagle flies. If a sparrow does the same, it's a shame. And we only have a sparrow. No matter if I try to tell them what I want, they don't hear me, because it would mean, that a sparrow tells bigger rank animals what to do.
They are good people. They give me food selflessly till the end of my life. But no flying. So I left the nest and go on foot. Trying to dig out some worms to survive. And go my way.
"Go your way? You mean, wandering in the Wasteland?"
"Yes. As long as I hadn't set foot on the hot sand of the Wasteland, I thought, the Oasis must be outside somewhere: love of other people, respect, a good-looking woman's love, money, glance, power. However, if there is an oasis outside, the desert has no other place to be but inside. In this desert there is a constant fear of not doing the right thing and losing everthing that belongs to the Oasis. You try to water the desert inside from the Oasis outside. Then you die, because it won't work. You lose everything what people commonly believe in."
"So, what happens then with you?"
"Something dies within you, yet you are still alive. Out of pure routine. You realize that you are immortal. You set off your journey as a Hermit, as long as you learn to water the desert the other way: from the oase inside to the desert outside. Then you are ready."
"Not anymore. In the desert you may find others who go the same way. With them you may start a Community."
"Why didn't you choose a partner?"
"Maybe, this is my fault too. Maybe my expectations were two high. Those who I found suitable partners had probably to high Love Threshold in comparison to my Flesh Market Value. They were either look too good, or too clever or both. Or at least they only thought they were. They rejected me. Those, who wanted me, didn't get enough score with their looks or brains to hit my Love Threshold. "
"-What did you learn from this sickness?"
"You lose the Mortals around you. However, if you manage to become Immortal, you will never be alone anymore."
"-What have you reached in life?"
"-Not much in financial terms. I spent loads of money for experiencing, and because of feeling myself unwell, I drank and ate a lot, to compensate it, to feel myself somehow good. However, learning was thing that I always liked. As soon as I learned something, I was ready to teach it to others. It may sound interesting or strange, but those the more thirsty for knowledge the less Disgust Man among those. They respected me. I made some friends with some of them."
At this point Max felt better not to ask more. His car was fully charged anyway. He thought he may meet the LeprosyMan again some time and he hoped that they would talk again. One sentence, however, was coming into his mind repeatedly: "If you manage to become Immortal, you will never be alone anymore." Could it be, that you may feel alone, but you are never alone?
B.G. Max lives in Hungary, Europe. He welcomes your comments at gazdapiac (at) gmail.com
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