To Be Loved by Bo

Submitted into Contest #136 in response to: Write a story where hard work doesn’t pay off.... view prompt


Fiction Inspirational Contemporary

If you had to sit in front of a machine that cuts perfect pieces of iron, how long could you do it? Consider how many times you could raise and lower the arm attached to the machine, to see how it pulls out circles and more circles and more circles ... more than a hundred per hour. Each hour. 

Take a look at the machine over there. If you cannot see, try again. Eventually, you will see Bo. 

Take a look at Bo from behind. He's facing the other way. This isn't difficult. Think of someone you know well, and now add a big iron-cutting machine between him (or her) and the horizon. You are now seeing Bo.

Here's another thing you should know: He's been working at that iron cutting factory for seven years. In seven years that Bo stands at the machine and with one hand controls the arm and creates perfect iron circles, you can understand why his own arms are not symmetrical. Basically, Bo has one swollen, muscular, very awesome right arm and one shrunken, miserable, bony left arm.

You can now begin.

One morning Bo goes to work with a wide smile on his face. The smile of Bo. Bo waves to the guard standing at the factory entrance as he passes the iron gate. It’s all made of iron around there. The name of the guard is not important for any of this, but it’s Mr. Rustico, just in case it may bother someone, somewhere. You’d expact a typical guard at a factory entrance to be known by his first name only, but this guy is different.

Bo gets about ten or fifteen paces into the building, which is an iron rectangle with a blue and yellow color scheme, before the big man in the white hat and silly uniform stops him. Among the workers, the man with the white hat is known as "The angel of unemployment" but he’s also known as “Hiroshi the generous” because he also brings news of salary increases. He’s both. 

For the past seven years, Bo has walked from the gate to the building without fear, but today he sees Hiroshi walking straight towards him. So there is some fear and at the same time some hope. Isn't that natural?

The angel says nothing when he reaches Bo. His hat is not super white, anybody can see that. He hands Bo a letter, a sealed envelope containing a white note. That's white! Hello Bo, it says on the note, Hello Bo, seven years of early mornings, huh?, Hello Bo, Hello Bo, come say Hi on holidays, Saturdays, Sundays, Memorial Days, and other days, Adios, and we have attached a check as retirement compensation.

If you look at him, Bo will suddenly appear, in the front yard of the factory, facing the sun. He looks like a character in an old film whose protagonist is shattered but life goes on. A shining sun is proof that things are alright, so it’s only Bo. Just him. Except for his heart and mind, everything is fine, including the small metal flowers in Hiroshi’s office, which are growing eternally in a round pot.

Bo weeps because he is sad, not for any other reason. It's been seven years. Look at the way Vicente approaches Bo... Soon you'll see him in a red coat with a raised collar, his hair flapping in the wind. Only there’s no wind at the moment. Bo's life could be a movie, and Vicente could be the best supporting actor. 

Vicente stands behind Bo, the sun behind Vicente. Of all the workers that Bo has worked with for the last seven years, Vicente is the one who puts a hand on Bo's shoulder and says, in a quiet voice: “Bo.”

The sun behind is really a beautiful scene, though it's not a movie, just one day in Bo's life. It’s all yellow. A sunrise like no other. It is possible to see Bo's right arm, swollen and shining and his left arm, pale and white, against the sky.

Someone already took Bo's position inside the factory. It's going to be a typical workday for him. Bo, meanwhile, marches the hundred or so paces to the gate. He stops at the gate for a moment, or at least slows down. He has a few things to say to the guard before he leaves. “How are you, Mr. Rustico? Hiroshi, The angel of unemployment has taken a great distance from me for seven years. Now, do you know what happened today? He got me today."

Just before Bo leaves the factory gate for the last time, the guard offers him a cup of coffee. They sip their coffee from two glasses imprinted with the factory logo. Bo drinks his coffee without sugar and the guard with two spoons. Some people need their lives to be somewhat sweeter. Now, watch how Bo drops the glass on the floor and how it breaks. How did the glass fall? Bo dropped the cup purposefully out of anger, or perhaps he dropped it out of fear. Which Bo was it?

After helping Mr. Rustico sweep the broken glass away, the discharged employee mumbles something and says goodbye. Bo's face begs the question: where is the mercy? Does mercy even exist anymore?

In that face and with that slow walk, Bo leaves the factory. Up until that point, he had never left the factory in the morning. Mornings were for arrivals. Now he is leaving after only a few minutes of being there. 

As difficult as it is for him to be dismissed, his walk from the gate to his home in the morning is even more difficult. His thoughts about what happened in the factory can wait for a later time, such as when he is at Che's pub. But walking home, at this time of day...

As Bo walks home, everything seems to be going in the wrong direction. The sounds of the hammers coming from inside the factory are still audible, but they are getting weaker. The shouts of the other workers are also becoming less loud. It is as if the whole city is now reversed in front of his eyes: the people, the cars, the kids with the ball. Everything seems so strange.

A woman opens the door to Bo's house when he knocks. You have not yet met her. It's Carmen, Bo's wife. How nice to meet her. Bo smiles at his wife, and he seems a bit lost. It's the same smile, but at the same time it's something else. See, Bo has never changed his smile. Isn't that amazing? 

Carmen tells him only one thing: “You have been fired, right?”

Bo walks in. He feels good and bad at the same time. You already know why he feels bad, and he feels good because he came home just as he started feeling bad. He can rely on Carmen. The two of them sit together on the couch in the living room. She strokes his head, kisses his cheek, and hugs him.

It's obvious that Bo loves Carmen. He's used to loving her right when he walks into the house late in the afternoon all the way until the moment he leaves for work the next day. He can't get enough of her, during the evening and sometimes even at night and in the early morning just before dawn. Even so, he is not accustomed to loving her in the morning, like later in the day. Not because he is unable to love her during those hours, but because he has no idea what to do or even how to think of her.

Can he do anything about it? He can't explain that to her, at least not in words. Bo's words. Thus, he gets up from the couch, kisses her, and leaves the house just as he has been doing every day before confronting the angel of unemployment. Just as he did that very morning. 

Bo stands outside of the house. When Bo starts to walk on the stone path, from his door to the street, the white shutters on Bo's and Carmen’s house open, and she looks over at him and sees him walking again in the right direction.

As Bo walks down the street, he turns in the direction of the local pub. It's early for Che’s pub but he’s going anyway. Inside he meets Che. The two greet each other. Che has an overall suspicious appearance, but he's a nice guy; he even opens his pub in the morning when nobody comes to drink. Anyhow, Bo did not come to drink. He walks to the edge of the pub to find Che's three game machines. The machines that Che calls Mississippi, Ruby, and Happiness.

Bo stops near the machine named Mississippi. Out of the three machines this one is the biggest. He takes out coins from his pocket, of the kind that the Mississippi likes to eat, and he feeds one coin, then another, then another into Mississippi's mouth. As Bo grips the Mississippi handle and pulls it down, the wheels begin spinning. For a few seconds, they go like this and then stop. Three diamonds appear before his eyes. Suddenly, a flurry of coins can be heard falling down Mississippi's big, metal body.  

Taking three coins from the machine's lower heavy body, Bo puts them back into Mississippi's mouth. His huge, thick right arm lowers the lever, waiting for the three wheels to stop. Check out the three cherries! Look at them! Soon, you will hear the ringing of coins coming from Mississippi's belly. Che is there to assure Bo that this is just beginner's luck.

Bo puts coins in Mississippi's mouth. Sometimes Mississippi returns coins, and sometimes it keeps all the coins in its belly. With patience, he pulls the handle, releases it, and collects the coins as they come out and waits for them if they don't.

Look at Bo.

Look at him.

In the evening, Bo leaves Che’s pub. It's hard to see Bo in the dark, as he walks down the street. He walks back home. Watch Bo under the street lights as he hurries to arrive. Pay attention to his nimble steps. Bo usually returns home in the afternoon, but there are times when he enters his house after dark.

Bo's house door opens and Carmen stands at the entrance, waiting for him. Do you recognize her now? Bo hugs his wife and you can see how they both close the door and get inside. 

When Bo comes home after work, he knows perfectly how to love his wife, and he is careful not to abandon her feelings or his. Using one thick and one fragile hand, Bo kisses his wife. You should really Make an effort to see. Through the walls, through the iron pipes, through the pictures hanging on the walls, through all the obstructions.

The lights go out in the house. Bo's house is dark now. Nothing can be seen, but little can be heard. There's Bo laughing out loud, and now his wife Carmen is doing the same. At times, he laughs, at times she laughs, and sometimes, like now, they laugh together.

They fall silent. Look at Bo's house. Listen. A car passes by, making a noise as it passes but the same exact silence returns after it’s gone. It's a very strong silence. It sticks with you.

You can't see anything now, obviously. But you can imagine. While Bo breathes lightly on Carmen's hair, he kisses her on the neck and caresses her all over and reaches for her with a long arm.

It's our Bo.

It's Bo from the factory. 

From the pub. Lucky Bo.

It’s Bo that promised his wife never to give up, even if the world forces him to. The same one that worked so hard. Seven years. And they didn’t appreciate it much. It’s Bo with the smile. With the big muscles on his right arm. His pockets are full of coins. 

It’s that Bo. And only Carmen really knows what a great feeling it is to be loved by Bo.

March 07, 2022 00:06

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