Vincent

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

Story loosely based on the Don McLean song, Vincent.

It had been ten years since I'd known him. I was only eighteen by the time I came across meeting him, too young to understand everything. He was in his sixties when I worked for him. His children hired me to take good care of him, which I hopefully did. He was gray-haired, thin, and frail. He was tall and his eyes were angry and sad. He coughs from time to time and never took his medicine. All he did was to write and write, but nobody ever tried to read his writings.

He was hated by everybody for he never believed in the Supreme Being. He was a liberal and open to contradictions of conventional ideas. He had been living all by himself since his wife died. His children left him when they finished schooling and when they married. All he received from them were cards and money. Never did he receive appreciation and love from anybody.

It was a starry, starry night when I came to his house. It was made of red and brown bricks. It was a home of two floors and it had two white wooden windows. Its roof was black and made of bricks as well. It made me wonder how his roof endured the rain. He had no neighbors, and the nearest house was a kilometer away.

I knocked on his mahogany door. He grunted loudly and opened the door. He was in his bathrobe when I first saw him.

"I don't have money to give you, boy. Get lost," he said as he lit his cigarette and blew the smoke right on my face, and closed the door in an instant.

"But, ahem, Mr. Simmons, I was sent to you by your children," I replied, knocking again.

He then opened the door and spoke, "I do not care, boy. I am not living any longer anyway. Now leave."

He slammed his door shut. I gazed at my suitcase and opened it to get a piece of bread. It was my last stock of food. I sat in his porch and started to eat, and waited all morning for him. I had to tolerate his manner of treating me.

I woke up being poked on my back. The sun had already risen, and the birds flew freely on the sky.

"Hey, young man, did I not ask you to leave?" he asked as he stood.

"Yes, sir, but your children sent me to take care of you," I replied, looking at him.

"Bah, I am not sick," he answered, rolling his eyes at me.

My stomach suddenly grumbled. Both of us looked at my abdomen.

"You hungry, little man?" he asked again as he raised a brow at me.

"Er, yes, sir."

"Well, come in, and join me," he said, coming in his house.

I took my things and followed him. In the brown walls I saw paintings of snowy picturesque. His ceilings were high, and the pathway led to his living room. There were couches of peach, and a huge chandelier hung on the ceiling. It brightened the whole room. A portrait of himself standing beside his wife who sat was in my right. He had such a beatiful wife. She had black hair and green eyes. She was of white complexion and of slender built. She was wearing a plain black dress in the painting.

We arrived in his kitchen. It had a little round wooden table with two wooden chairs. He took a jar of strawberry jam and a jar of brewed coffee and sugar from his cupboard. He put the jars in the table and asked me to take a seat. He opened the only little cabinet and took loaves of wheat bread. He handed me a cup of hot water and teaspoon. He made his coffee while I made mine. He never put sugar on his coffee as I recall.

"What is your name, boy?" he inquired as he put jam on his bread.

"Alasdair, sir," I answered, looking at him.

"Hmm, Alasdair? Do you ever study, boy?"

"No, sir. I never went to school but I know how to count, read, and write."

"Oh, then, why did my children send me a vagabond to take care of me?"

I was badly hurt by his question and I did not try to say a word. He gazed at me in a sorry, sincere way, and then spoke again, "I'm sorry if I offended you, boy."

"It is alright, sir. I have a poor family and my parents could not afford to send me to school. I am the eldest in my family, you see, that is why I took this job, sir," I replied, my eyes cast down.

"Oh, I see. I am deeply sorry, boy," he answered, "I do not really want to take you, boy, because I am not dying for you to take care of me. How about I take you as a housekeeper, young man?" he asked, "I am too old to clean my house, you see, and I cannot stretch my joints, you know, old people things," he added.

"Certainly, sir," I said in a delighted tone.

"Good. You will start today, boy, but there are some things I would like to remind you," he said.

"What are those, sir?"

"You are not to touch any of my things and books. You will talk to me only when you need to, and you are not to push me to do anything which has to do with my health."

And so I started to clean his house. I ran errands for Mr. Simmons. He would take me with him everytime he comes to the city. Everyone looked at him their brows raised. Others gazed at me in a sorry way. He did not pay them any attention. We continued pacing along the streets.

When the night came, I was sitting in his porch and was looking at the stars. I thought he was asleep not until he suddenly spoke.

"Why are you not sleeping, boy?"

I turned and was surprised to see him standing behind me, "Oh, I could not sleep, sir."

"Oh, I see."

"Why are people treating you that way, sir? Did you do anything to make them despise you?"

He looked at me angrily and asked me back, "Gah, who are you to ask me questions? You are just my housekeeper."

Before I talked, he went back in his house. I stood to close his door and went into my quarters. As I passed by, I saw that his library was open. I came in and roamed around. It was full of bookshelves. It also had a rectangular glass table and chairs. I noticed a tiny bookshelf and read each title of the books. All of them were black and were authored by Gabriel Simmons. I realized that they were written by Mr. Simmons. I checked every book in his library and all of his books were written by him.

I took a book, entitled Vincent, and read it all night. Vincent's story reflected Mr. Simmon's life. I felt sympathy for the character and for its creator. Both of them were not loved and appreciated. Both tried hard to be noticed, but then nobody cared for them except their wives. Their children rarely showed themselves and sent cards during holidays. Vincent died being alone, and all of his writings were read by only one person -- his wife.

I put the book back in its place. Before I went to my room, I noticed a short letter in his table. It read:

 

My dear Gabriel,

 

I will always read your writings. They are all beautiful and heartwarming. They stir emotions to the readers' hearts.

I will remain your avid reader, my darling. Forever and a day.

 

 

Lovingly yours,

Carinna

 

As I finished reading the letter, Mr. Simmons turned on the light of the library and glared at me, "What are you doing here?" he yelled, "I should not have taken you in!"

"But, sir, I --"

"Get out!"

And so I went out of the room. He came after me and took all of my things. He threw them out of my room's window.

"Now I know why everyone does not like you, Mr. Simmons!" I raised my voice out of anger, "You never reached out to them. You never did, and you pushed every people you knew away, even your children. Now I know why you are living miserably, sir. And I will be glad to leave you alone!"

"You ungrateful man! Get out and never ever come back!" he replied furiously. He hardly breathed as he pointed at the door.

I went back to my hometown. I knew I should not have said those words to him. It must have hurt him too bad. I tried hard to forget what happened that night. It has been a year since I left, and I never heard anything about Mr. Simmons.

His children came to me and asked me to see their father. He is dying, they told me, and he wants to see me before he died. I reluctantly agreed to see him, because I wanted to see him, too. He had been my second father, though he rarely called me son, though we saw each other during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And though we rarely talked.

I came to his house for the second time. It had a lonely ambiance though nothing has changed since I went home. His eldest son asked me to come to his father's room. We could hear him talking alone, his words were addressed to his wife.

"Carinna, dear, I once had a housekeeper named Alasdair..."

We stood behind his door and we listened to him.

"He is a good young man, my darling, he ran errands for me, and kept our house clean. He is uneducated but he is an intelligent boy. He even read my novel, Vincent, in one night."

His son looked at me and whispered softly, "Did you?" and I nodded.

"I think he understands me, Carinna, but it was I who drove him away. Now I asked Casimiro to take Alasdair to me, because I could not go with you without apologizing and talking to him."

His son knocked on his door and came in. I went after him and smiled at the old man.

Mr. Simmons looked and his tears ran down his wrinkled face, "Is that you, Alasdair boy?"

"Yes, sir," I replied, coming to him. I sat on a chair placed beside him. His son left us alone.

"How have you been, young man?" he started to talk.

"I have been good, sir. How are you?" I answered.

"I am dying, son, and any day, my Carinna will take me with her. I'd like to introduce you to my wife," he said, "Carinna, darling," he uttered to an empty space, "This is Alasdair, and Alasdair, this is my wife, Carinna," he added, looking at me.

I played along, "It is nice to meet you, madame."

"I would like to apologize for what happened that night, boy," he retorted, "I am really sorry."

"I am sorry also, sir, for sneaking into your library. I should not have done it in the first place."

"It is alright, son. I could have let you read my works, boy. Nobody ever read my writings before except you and my wife."

"You are a wonderful writer, sir. I wonder why nobody appreciates your work."

"Maybe this world is not meant for me, son. That is why."

I gazed at him sadly. Mr. Simmons was staring into space, his eyes were watery and completely blank. I put a hand on his shoulder. He smiled wryly at me, the lines of old age stretched on his face. He embraced me and asked me to call his children.

I came into his room again with his aged offspring. They hugged and cried. I knew it was the only time he expressed his love for them. I watched them silently as they recalled every moment they have had. And then he asked us to leave except his eldest son Casimiro.

He was already tired when the evening came. We let him go to sleep. We watched him drift off to sleep for a moment, and then we left to talk in the living room.

"Our father has wishes for us to accomplish," Casimiro began to say as he gazed at us.

"What is it, brother?" his sister Camilla asked.

"He wants Alasdair to be given a good education."

I was surprised and I then stood, "But, sir, I --"

"No, son, we have to grant our father's wishes," Casimiro spoke again as he smiled, "We will not take any of our father's properties, Alasdair. These are yours.

"For we have everything now, we will support you in any career that you would like to pursue. Furthermore, we will help your family and your siblings will be sent to school as well."

I tried hard not to cry, "But I cannot just accept these, sir."

"This is what our father wants, boy. For you had been a son to him, for you had been good toward him. We cannot do anything to repay you for such goodness, son."

"I do not know how I would show my gratitude, sir."

"It is us who should be grateful, Alasdair. Let's go to sleep, shall we?"

Everyone went to sleep. When the morning came, Mr. Simmons never woke up. He was smiling in his sleep and I saw peace that I have never seen in his face. His daughters cried in his bed. He would never hear them; they knew it. And Casimiro did shed a single tear.

Mr. Simmons' funeral services took place that evening. His children and I were the only persons there. He wanted no prayers nor mourning, no blessings nor weeping. His face still casted that smile he had when we found him in his room. He laid in his coffin as if he was sleeping. He drifted off to sleep and it will take forever.

I was wrong about what I said that night. He tried to reach out to people but nobody took his hand. He wrote in order to be recognized but nobody appreciated him. His writings contained his thoughts, his sorrows, and his happiness. His works showed his paradise and his peace. In writing, he only found his sanctuary. Now I understand how he valued his writing and why he said that the world was never meant for him.

We buried him in a grassy field. We carefully laid his casket down and down the earth. It was a starry, starry night when I first met him, and it was a starry, starry night when I bade him goodbye.

 


Submitted: October 27, 2014

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