By Sebastian Muriel
A middle-aged man, Blanc, walked home from work on a cold evening. His messenger bag hung around his shoulder, containing his laptop, documents, and books. He wore a modest white collar shirt with a skinny black tie. Blanc worked as a journalist for a local newspaper. He was married to a woman, Blanca, and had a son, Blanquito, with her. Everyday, Blanc walked down the same street on his way home. There was nothing particularly extraordinary about Blanc, for he had a life that was as same as the horizon one gazes upon each day. The sad thing about Blanc was that he had no identity worthy of discussing—everything he identified as was contingent upon the perceptions of those around him: father, writer, husband, commuter—he was merely an indistinguishable image from the masses. Until he got a Facebook.
Blanc loved Facebook. He was able to build a self-image that finally allowed him some form of independence over his identity. It wasn’t enough, though. His conception of self was too externalized. His Facebook page was an escape mechanism, yes, but as soon as he stepped away from his screen he resigned to the gentle indifference of the world that surrounded him. He was once again indistinct, and he knew that this condition would plague him for the rest of his life.
Blanc always browsed Facebook on his phone during his walk home from work, but on that particular cold evening, his phone died. He walked with no form of distraction, quietly submitting to the entertainment his environment had to offer. As he was walking, he heard someone shouting. It sounded like a man. He turned around. It was a policeman. “Hey you! You!” the policeman shouted. Blanc immediately began to think upon what he could have possibly done to break the law or agitate this officer. He felt an immense wave of guilt come over him. The policeman got closer. Blanc felt an unfamiliar yearning within his gut to rebel. To run. To flee from the tyrannical force of law. He had never felt this way before, but he had no time to ruminate on its newness. He impulsively bolted in a sprint down the street, looking behind him to see where the policeman was. Blanc turned a corner and was able to escape. Pride swept over him. At first, he felt disgust towards himself, for he had no reason to be proud of what he had just done. But the pride was too delicious. Too lubricated with a sense of rightness. He could not resist. He was proud of his accomplishment. A sudden storm of hunger brewed within him. He wanted more.
An elderly nun walked passed Blanc as he was contemplating how he could break the law. The nun stopped in front of him, and said, “May God bless your heart.” Blanc felt something beautiful come over him—a drape of love, purpose, and grace. He felt holy. Nothing could amount to his holiness, for he was an ordained minister. He buttoned his white collar shirt to the very top button and walked with a religious righteousness, offering blessings for anyone who passed him. Blanc felt utterly right in his place—he was beyond convinced that this was his purpose.
A few blocks down the street, Blanc stopped in front of a gay strip club. He could not tolerate the sin that was taking place in that God-forsaken hell-hole. It was imponderable. He felt a deep grief for those who were lost in the darkness. He began to pray over the strip club when a gay stripper approached him and fondled his neck while sensually whispering into his ear. Blanc felt a sexual stirring within him, and he could not fathom what was taking place within him. The gay stripper suddenly looked appetizing—handsome, even. Blanc felt drawn to the stripper and was about to embrace him, but he was distracted by a distant laughter of children down the street at the park. With an air of conviction, Blanc started towards the source of the laughter, leaving the gay stripper on the sidewalk. A moribund desire to be father was resurrected within him by the presence of children. He felt compelled to go and partake in this childish joy. When Blanc stepped into the park, a small child tugged on his pants. “Excuse me, mister. Please play with me” the child asked, looking up with a charm so endearing Blanc could not resist but to kneel down to his height and look him in the eyes. Blanc offered himself to play, and the child squealed with joy. The child produced two skateboards and signaled Blanc to ride one with him, but Blanc wasn’t coordinated and didn’t want to mount the skateboard. The child was amused by Blanc’s inept skating ability, and began laughing at his cowardice because he was a grown man that was supposed to be unafraid of anything. “Hahaha! Chicken! You’re a chicken, mister!” Blanc’s arms suddenly assumed the position of a chicken’s wings, and he positioned his body as a chicken, making chicken noises and pecking at the air. The child roared in laughter, and a spectating crowd of children formed around Blanc.
After several blocks of walking like a chicken, he arrived home. His front door reminded him of his fundamental identity—a father and a husband. His understanding of the front door caused a disorienting tornado to brew within him. His knees gave out and he fell onto the front door, barely able to keep himself upright. He felt an incongruous mixture of identities within him. This confusing mixture began to leak into his psyche, then his body, and finally his overarching self-image. With a sudden awoken vitality, Blanc rose up from the ground. He broke the door in while shouting in a seductive tone, “May the wrath of God come down upon you!” Walking like an angry chicken, Blanc went into the kitchen and got a knife. He treaded upstairs and went into his bedroom. His wife, Blanca, was convulsing on their bed. She saw Blanc at the door and rose to her feet. She looked at him seductively and gracefully walked towards him, slowly unbuttoning her blouse. Face to face with him, she whispered in his ear, “Are you going to cat-call me? Tell me how nice my body is? How much better I would look without my clothes on? I’ll be the girl you want me to be.” Blanc felt repelled by her body. He was craving something else—something more masculine.
Blanc’s son, Blanquito, walks in, dragging his blanket. He looks at Blanc with a deep sorrow and says, “Daddy, I’m not a good boy. I’m worthless. I should go die in a hole, right?” Blanc gazes upon his son, and feels a distant, quiet yearning within him. He feels drawn towards Blanquito. Blanc’s chicken posture is suspended, and he kneels down to his son’s height and lovingly looks at him. Nothing could amount to this feeling. The feeling of being a father. He unbuttoned his top button, dropped his knife, and assumed a masculine tone of voice. He was a father once again. Blanca witnessed this demonstration of love, and she impulsively put her hair up, adjusted her clothes to be more modest, and kneeled down to Blanc and her son. She was a mother once again. Blanc and Blanca’s profound love for one another was revitalized when they caught each other’s eye. The two of them embraced Blanquito and the family united in a collective embrace, gently holding each other in a reassuring union of familial love.
In the distance, down the stairs in an unknown room, a noise is heard. Blanc and Blanquito did not notice it, but Blanca instinctively looks up. She hears the familiar cry of her phone. The tri-tone of a marimba. It’s a Facebook notification.