A Short Story
By: Rizki Aditya
A wizard once told me a story about a guy who had lunch with a lizard and ended up becoming a writer. The guy was an ordinary man who just recently graduated from college. He wasn’t in a hurry looking for a job; he took way too long studying and attending lectures and many other things. He thought he needed vacation far from where he lived now. He needed something new. He ended up taking a vacation on a country near the equator, halfway around the world.
He was happy there, the locals were kind and the goods and foods and all were cheap. He even once had a crush on a lady who worked on a coffee shop not too far from where he stayed. She had long brown hair, and always wore her red bright hair band. Since then, the guy always came to the coffee shop just for a cappuccino and the lady’s sweet smile. He wanted to live there, permanently. He wanted to live there, marry that lady, have a family, build their own coffee shop, and live happily ever after.
But little did he know, that one day, the lady died because of a car accident. She and the rest of the passengers were unable to be saved. A single accident on an empty street caused by speeding. The only thing he knew was that the lady was no longer worked in that coffee shop, and she was replaced by another girl, who was not as attractive as she was. The guy kept wondering where the girl was and sometimes he blamed himself for not asking her number or asking her for a date earlier. He regretted it. And all he could do now was living his life like usual, enjoy his vacation and back to his old town and looking for a job. “Life is a funny thing,” he said to himself.
One day, he woke up earlier than ever. Even the sky was still dark and birds still sleep. He rose from his bed, washed his face, boiled some water and made coffee. He still sleepy, but he couldn’t sleep. Something was keeping him awake. Not the coffee. He even hadn’t touched the mug yet. Then, there was a phone call. The number was unknown, but looking by the number, it registered from his country. It might be something important, he thought. He answered it, and on the other side of the phone, there was a male raspy voice speaking.
“Hello, am I speaking to Mr. R?” said the man from the distance. His voice was almost like Morgan Freeman, but R knew he wasn’t him. “Yes, I’m R. Who’s this and where did you get my number?” “Ah, at last I reached you, Mr. R! Did you know I’ve tried to call all five other numbers of yours? Finally I got you on the sixth time!” The guy on the phone was sound so excited. “Anyway Mr. R,” he continued, “can we meet on today’s lunch?” “Wait a minute,” R replied, “Who are you and how did you get my numbers?” There was no replied from another side of the phone. The raspy voice was paused.
The raspy voice guy didn’t answer R’s question, but he did tell his name. People call him Lizard. He said it was because when he was a kid, he had this ability to climb trees, bare foot and hands. “It was kind of painful sometimes, Mr. R, to recall those kind of things. Sad memories, bad memories. Once in a while you feel that too, right Mr. R?” He was right. R did felt a bit of ache on his chest. To be precise, his feeling. The girl on the coffee shop and sometimes his anxiety and worries about unable to get a decent job. “Of course my call surprised you. I know it and I meant to make you feel that way. All you need now are a pack of surprises. How do I know that, you might ask yourself. Mr. R, there were a lot of people who didn’t know any other person, physically and mentally. But not me, believe me. I know everything about everyone. Some might even called me an ‘ear on the wall’. Therefore, I know a lot about you too.
“Before I scare you and make you unwilling to accept my invitation, I’ll stop talking now, Mr. R. I’ll give you an opportunity to ask me one question. One question only and it must be an important question for you.”
R thought hard. He didn’t know who this Lizard guy was, and it was pretty strange that this guy knew everyone very deeply. Was he a psychic? R kept thinking and asked himself “He knows you and your worries, lets keep it that way, R. Why did he ask you to lunch? What are his motives? Did you ever do something bad to someone recently?”
“Mr. Lizard,” R said after a several minutes, “our meeting, will it change my course of life?” He thought it well, and that was the question he want to ask. He wanted his life to changed after all, no matter how or when or by who. The phone was hanged up when Lizard answer his question with promising tunes “Mr. R, it will change your entire life.”
It was at noon, when R arrived on the place where he and Mr. Lizard arranged for their meeting. It was the coffee shop where the lady with red head band used to work. It was a place he used to come and sit and read books until the sun went down, and the moon started to shine. The place where he used to order a cup of cappuccino just to see the lady’s smile. Those memories were like a knife, piercing through skin, flesh, veins, straight to his heart, a pain he can’t even describe. Even though the place was already changed, both its exterior and interior, the memories lingered. Like there were supposed to be several seats on the outside, a table and two chairs on each of them, but now they changed it with some sort of standing island and several high stools. He also used to sit on the table near a plant with a cocoon on one of its leaf, but now it has been replaced by a trash bin. The plant was gone, also with the unhatched cocoon. R ordered the same good old cappuccino and took a seat outside. He took one of those high stools and sat on it. The smells of the cappuccino blended with a scent of incoming rain. The pain in his chest started to fade. He was getting used to it.
Thirty minutes later the sky started to grey. In just few minutes, the rain would pour down. Realizing it was soon going to rain, R hummed a tune from a song, and whispered a line of words, “and as the rain came down like missiles from the sky, sent on a collision course from the heaven to the ground.” He continued the song just by humming. From the distance, thunder started to bark and growl.
R sat there with a nearly emptied cup, as the sky turned darker grey, and the scent of rain got stronger. It was still one fifteen, Mr Lizard may still be able to make it. R imagined everything he could imagine about what life-changing thing that Mr Lizard would give him. A job? A business potential? Or maybe this Lizard guy was a billionaire and want to seek a perfect inheritance of his fortune? He loved to imagine those things, but he suddenly felt hungry. He took all of his belongings, went inside the coffee shop and ordered a fettuccine carbonara. He asked the barista, who was a young male, in his early twenty, with spiked hairs and over-cologne shirt, about a man named Lizard. The barista said there weren’t any other customer since R came and a group of teenagers on a floor above, doing their homework, who came earlier than him. R said thank you and the barista said his carbonara will brought to his table. It started to rain harder outside.
When his food was served in front of him, R was still waiting for the arrival of Mr Lizard. He kept thinking, what if he had been tricked? Or what if that phone call and that guy nicknamed Lizard were just his imagination? Is he going mental? He grunted and started to eat his fettuccine. The sauce was still runny and warm, and the pasta still separated one to another. He kept taking spoon by spoon of fettuccine while waiting Mr. Lizard.
At one point, when his fettuccine was half gone, the rain stopped and the sky of dark grey started to part and let the sun shine through, he decided to forget about this life-changing thing with Mr. Lizard.
He said to himself “You already had a well life. What else could you do except write? You are bad at math and interacting with people. You are bad at socializing. You know you would hate to become a corporate android. Just face it, writing was the thing you could do best. Better than anything you can do. You have it deep down there.”
As he was on half portion of his fettuccine, a small lizard fell from the ceiling and landed not too far from his plate. It landed safely on the table and its head looking straight to his eyes, as if it tried to tell him something telepathically. He was surprised but he didn’t do anything to it, he left it there. And all of a sudden, something turned on inside his head. Something started to flicker like a hanging lamp on a basement. It gets brighter and brighter and brighter.
“You know what to do.” said a voice inside his head. And R knew it wasn’t his inner voice, it was the Lizard. He knew what he should do. “I’ll write my own novel and I’ll become a writer,” he said to himself. The Lizard blinked, and as if it tried to say farewell, it nodded it head a bit and then run away. He finished his pasta, payed his bill, and went straight to his hotel. He took a note and a pen, and started to write. Somehow he had a lot of things to write on, and he knew he could make it into a story. Few days later, he took a flight back to his country, he continued his writing there and finished it two months later.
He wrote the story of the red hairband girl and the lizard who gave him enlightenment.
And I thought to myself, maybe I need to find that Lizard too.