A BLACK HORSE WAS CROSSING THE STREET, BUT PERHAPS IT WAS A RED BICYCLE, INSTEAD

Submitted into Contest #167 in response to: Write a story about a character who can’t tell what’s real and what’s not.... view prompt

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Suspense Sad Mystery

A BLACK HORSE WAS CROSSING THE STREET…BUT PERHAPS IT WAS A RED BICYCLE, INSTEAD

“ Julian, you said you met Paula Z. some days ago(yesterday). Where did you meet her? Maybe at the Seven Stars Bar, which she frequented, when she lived here?”

“ No, No…I met her that she was flying  here in the city…ah, now I don’t remember exactly where …ah, here, she was flying over the White square” “ You mean she was walking across the square, don’t you?” Martha glanced at her son Julian with a look  between the perplexed and  the amused. He, her son, for some time seemed to enjoy surprising her with extravagant questions, and even more extravagant answers, with his incredible speeches. Julian had always been a great playful, even with a bit of a joker ( he had a bit of a joker too), she knew it well, but , for some time, he was going overboard with his strange speeches. “ No, no, she wasn’t walking at all, Paula was flying over the square, ah, I’m sure about this” Julian said, piqued. 

“ Do you mean that Paula was flying over the square with a hang glider?”  Martha asked, almost stunned ( puzzled) . “ No, you don’t need a hang glider to fly over the White square” Julian said sure, imperturbably.

“ Come on, stop it Julian, enough of your ( these) games! “ Martha sighed. “ I asked about where you met Paula Z. just for curiosity, since she hadn’t been seen here in our city for years “

“ But I said you where I met her : she was flying over the largest square in the city”. Julian said, almost resentful. Soon after he began to scratch his head, thoughtfully. Martha now was looking at her son with wide eyes, she was beginning to worry. “ What is happening, Julian? Are you feeling well?” she asked. “ But sure, I’m fine….just ( only), you know… “ Julian said, as he kept scratching his head “ I’m thinking …maybe I was wrong. But sure! It ( she) wasn’t Paula Z. I met…no, it was instead her cousin…ah, what is her name? I don’t remember it. But …you know, her cousin who is lame “    “ But which lame cousin are you talking about? I never knew that Paula Z. has a lame cousin”  Martha said, more and more worried. “ Oh, but are you sure Paula Z. doesn’t have a lame cousin? Since the one I saw as she was flying over the White square is , without doubt, a cousin of hers, yes, I’m sure. And she’s lame! Oh, I could see clearly how much lame she is ( was)!” Julian said confidently, nodding at his words. Martha just looked at him, shaking her head, almost desolate. She thought ( was thinking) that it would be useless to point out to his son the absurdity of what he was saying ( said). How could he have noticed that one, who for him was Paula Z.’s cousin, was lame, while she was flying over the square? Oh, my God, was she going to rave about it too? As if she didn’t know that Julian couldn’t really have met that woman, whoever she was, as she flew over the square.

It wasn’t only his mother who often happened to be stunned by what Julian said. For months now also his brothers, his friends, and his schoolmates had started looking at him with a certain fear, even with suspicion. Julien was always the diligent, good student who didn’t miss a task or an interrogation, who played football and tennis discretely, who was always very tidy, and ready to help his mother with housework. Yet then happened that he came out to say that he was able to find a needle in a haystack! Yes, because he had found nothing less than a sock of his, which he thought was lost forever, under the mattress! Or it happened that suddenly he claimed that he had to hurry to the train station to fetch Lucy’s cat __Lucy was his sister__ that, otherwise, the poor little beast would not be able to go back home. And Lucy would be angry with him, who had assured her that he would be at the station as soon as the cat Casimiro, which was coming back from Vienna, where he had been on vacation for two weeks, got off the train. Ah, since the cat would certainly arrive tired, after several hours of travel, they would take a taxi home.

One day Martha received a phone call in which someone, with a female voice, who did not say her name, informed her that Julian had been the victim of a car accident. He had been hospitalized in a serious condition. She, who didn’t know Julian was out, she thought he was in his room, doing his homework, rushed to the hospital in anguish, her heart in her throat. Arrived at the hospital, she went to the front door to ask where her son was, and if she could see him. Before she could ask for the information, Martha  saw him, Julian, among the people in line at the reception. Her son, at least physically, seemed in good condition, he was not injured. For a few moments, she stood looking at him in disbelief, her mouth open, unable to say a word, since she couldn’t believe her eyes. “ Hey, Julian, what jokes are these, eh? “ she, approached him, and shouted. “ It was you that made that phone call, wasn’t it ? Oh, I died of fear! I thought you had been hit by some vehicle, that you were in serious, indeed desperate conditions! Enough of these jokes, please, Julian! You’ll end up driving me crazy!” Martha, although it was a great relief for her to see that Julian hadn’t been the victim of any accident, couldn’t help but be very angry with him too. “ Oh, Mom, but it wasn’t a joke at all” Julian began quietly to say.

“ Do you mean it wasn’t you who made that phone call?” she asked hopefully, breathing with relief.

“ The phone call announcing my accident? No, it wasn’t me who made it! Oh, and how I could? It was this girl who called you” He said, pointing to a red-haired girl , who smiled blissfully at Martha. “ Sure, milady, I made that phone call. But I called you because ( since) did Julian ask me to call you, isn’t it Julian?” Martha, furious, grabbed her son by the shoulders and shook him strongly. “What ? So it was you who made me receive that phone call, you, rogue! So that I believed that you have been the victim of an accident and you were in danger of your life! But how is it possible, huh? Can I know what is wrong with you? ( what is in your mind, eh?) Martha yelled at Julian in a shrill voice of anger, since she was really at the height of exasperation. Meanwhile the red-haired girl, perfectly calm, all smiling , stood to look at Julian and Martha, who seemed to be about to kick her son at any moment. “ Mom, please, listen to me, I can explain anything…If you let me explain, you too will be able to understand perfectly, you will see…oh, please, listen to me…” Julian continued imploring. “ Oh, I really can’t understand what there is to explain, wretch ! Piece of shit!” Martha yelled at Julian, yanking him so hard that he fell to the ground. “ Oh Mom, then you want to get me the disgrace!” Julian said, getting up. “ Please ( I pray you), let me explain…Why don’t we go out and sit on a bench, so I’ll explain anything ?”

“ Julian, remember: THE STREET where you saw it, where it happened. “ The red-haired girl said, softly, but, at the same time, as if she were reminding him of something very important. “ Yeah, that is the right place  to tell what happened, but sure, here’s ( there’s) where we have to go to explain everything” Julian immediately called a taxi where all three got in, he, his mother , and the red-haired girl. “ Via Ariosto 17” was the indication ( the address ) that he gave to the taxi driver. “ But where are you taking me, now, damned boy? Ah, I know that you want to continue with your games, with your jokes, ah ! I warn you that if you don’t stop,  I am determined to take drastic measures, Julian, do you understand what I mean?” Martha continued to swear, to rail , now shouting, now mumbling at the wretched   Julian through  the journey, which was quite long, since via Ariosto was almost out of the city, near the railway. At number 17 via Ariosto there was a bar, The cornflower. Several people were sitting at the tables outside in front of the bar. On the pedestrian crossings, an old, hunchbacked woman, a pink hat on her head, leaning on a cane, was crossing the street in front of the bar.” Here, do you see that old woman who is crossing the street?” Julian asked. Meanwhile, the three had sat at an outdoor table in front of the bar. “ Well, everything happened just there, on the pedestrian crossings. I had just come out of this bar, when I saw that black horse jumping on the street, right on the pedestrian crossings where now you see that funny old woman.  The black horse, probably escaped from some stable or cattle truck, was running towards me “ “ No, Julian , it didn’t go like that ( it didn’t go that way)” The red-haired girl said, looking intently at him and holding up her index finger. Julian began to scratch the back of his neck, thoughtfully. “ Yes, it’s true, now I remember…it wasn’t a black horse running towards me but a red bicycle,  yes, now I remember .“ Julian said as he kept scratching the back of his neck.  “ What the hell are you telling me, eh? What do the black horse and the red bicycle have to do with your accident that didn’t happen, but that you decided to make me believe it did happen instead?” Martha shouted, very angry, standing up and beating her fists on the table.

“ But how? Still don’t understand? I thought that the black horse would have run over me and, instead, it was not the black horse…” Julian kept speaking, quietly, imperturbably.

“ Enough! I don’t want to listen to you anymore ! I’m leaving! I’m leaving soon! Now!” So screaming, Martha ran into the street. A big truck was coming that overwhelmed her. Julian remained calm, as if nothing happened, as if her mother had not been run over, as if she was not lying  smashed on the asphalt.

Her 

October 15, 2022 03:37

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1 comment

John K Adams
00:10 Oct 27, 2022

I haven't read a Dadaist story in quite a while. This will do. I prefer dialogue to be assigned its own paragraph rather than jammed into dense paragraphs with other speakers'. But considering the elliptical style of the story, that seems to work. Some of the syntax of sentences is odd but see above. I always hope for some emotional connection or pay-off and this was so disconnected. The mother became emotional, but the ending read as if this was an elaborate practical joke on her for being so attached to objective reality.

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