Name: Marcelle Fayt
Title: One Last Walk
Sitting on the threshold stone of his tiny garden facing the street, the old man is watching the passers-by and their dogs. In the shade of his favorite lemon tree, Victor looks like a king reigning over his weedy seven square meter piece of land. He looks at his house across the Triq Is-Swatar street.
If only my sweet Rosa could see me today. I’ve been able to walk the twenty meters between my home and my colorful paradise on earth. And it’s already so hot. You see, Rosa, I’m following your advice. Walking each and every day has become my motto ever since you died las year.
The man greets a couple of foreigners and their Jack Russell. The puppy approaches the elder, begging for a cuddle, so they stop just in front of him.
Today is a big day for me, says the old man, grasping a can of beer from behind the hedge and taking a sip in it.
What are you doing today? says the lady, eager to be good company.
I’m going on a BIG adventure.
Good for you, says the man, while taking his wife by the arm to encourage her to resume their walk. Enjoy your trip!
The old man waves goodbye. Slowly, he crushes his beer can, puts it into the plastic bag hidden behind the hedge, grasps his cane and stands up. Using the tree as a stabilizer, he then starts walking up the hill, his hat protecting him from the sun.
One step after the other, the old man makes sure not to fall. Five minutes later, he stops in the shade of a magnificent bougainvillea. The red flowers create like a crown above his head.
Two young students pass by, speaking French.
Bongu, says the man, lifting his hand.
Oh, bonjour, answer the boys, astonished.
These young men, mumbles the little old man while starting to walk again, they don’t even know what I’ve been living here as a boy. I remember when I was their age during the war, that German plane... a Messerschmitt, yes... it was firing at us with its machine gun. Me and my friends went hiding in the bushes. Then we saw a spitfire come at him and the German plane went down and exploded. We ran towards the flames and started throwing rocks when we saw a German soldier take out his gun. Of course, we ran like hell! I was so full of energy at that age.
Victor stops and watches around. At last! Here I am.
The old man smiles, and sits down on the bench facing the beautiful view on Valletta harbor. Taking his head in his hands, he breathes heavily, and closes his eyes. This is my victory. I am so happy. I made it this time.
Eyes wide open now, he admires the view. Valletta, city of my heart. Too bad, I cannot go and visit it as often as in my early years. You remember, Rosa?
Two men in uniform approach the elderly.
What are you doing out of your home, Sir? How old are you? You’re more than sixty-five, isn’t it? You know you’re on lockdown. Do we need to give you a fine?
The old man rises up, supporting his scrawny body with his cane.
Give me a fine if you want. You know you are colleagues of mine? Yes, I have been a police officer too. Now, I am ninety-one years old. And I’d rather die out here because of the virus than remain secluded inside, not able to do my daily walk, stretch my legs and even more important, take a little sip of adventure in order to see such a magnificent view of my hometown and the sea.
The two policemen look at each other, smiling understandingly.
So..., says the old man, turning his back to the officers while starting his descent down the hill, do as you please. Fine me. Climbing this hill might be my last big adventure anyway. I might as well be dead tomorrow.
The ninety-one year old man lifts his cane up in the air, with a resounding : Auf wiedersehen!