Trees beyond a fence

Hans Finds a Friend

Hans wasn’t about to make another mistake. He poured milk into a bowl of toasted oat cereal. Then, instead of sea salt, he sprinkled sugar over it. I want a woman who’s sweet and innocent, he thought. Outside, it was wet and cold.

Hans quickly ate his buttered toast. Man was not made for bread alone, he thought.

What to do? Hans was listening to a radio talk show. It fills a vacuum, he thought. He went into the bathroom. Bull, he said. Then he tried to take a shower. What did I do with the soap?

Hans left his house. It wasn’t a big house, but it was his. There was a red wagon on the sidewalk. It wasn’t raining, but it was full of water. A fresh breeze scooted leaves on the wet cement. What about the leaves? Hans was tired of leaves.

Hans got where he was going by hitchhiking. A man stopped in his pick-up, old and ugly. A friend in need?

The bar was full of beer drinkers, and each drinker was full of beer. “Where are you going from here?” The waitress smiled for her tip, and Hans was tipsy. “Somewhere else.”

Hans knew where he wanted to get to, but he didn’t know where it was. Walking beside the road, he was stopped by the highway patrol. “Can we be of any help?” “Not unless you were in my shoes,” said Hans. The road went on, and, presently, so did Hans.

Hans saw an old barn in a cow field. The cow field had no cows in it, and the barn was very small. Hans got through the fence. Inside the barn, there was cow shit on the floor. “Swing your partners, doe-cee-doe,” said Hans. He walked over to a window, bowlegged, and leaned with his elbows on the wooden frame. He rolled a Bull Durham in his left hand, squinting his eye into the sunset. When he walked out, it was broad daylight.

“If an apple falls, and it hits someone on the head, and a priest saw this too, and even if nobody saw it fall, and if there was no wind and the apple was green, then how did it fall?” “Sheesh.” Hans scratched his head. The little boy kept smiling. All of a sudden Hans noticed how noisy the birds were. The little boy kept smiling. Then he ran away yelling “it fell down” and laughing “it fell down.”

Hans hid and watched the boys. “Run and tell your mommy that she loves you,” said the bully. That’s not true. “Run and tell her before she gets mad, or she won’t love you anymore.” “Stop it.” “Go away.” The real truth is simply the understanding of what is claimed to be true by being observable, Hans said. Hans let go of his balloon. Everyone watched it go up except for Hans. One’s own death is thus the most false thing by which we judge all things false. “You go back to your mommy and tell her she loves you,” he continued. “You go back to your own mommy.” It’s like nothing else in itself, thought Hans—everything is.

Hans walked over from under the trees into the sunlight. He fell on the grass, and rolled over to look up at the sky through the branches. It’s good to know you’ve got a friend, he thought. Now Hans rolled over, so that his face was in the green grass. Jesus! I hope you didn’t think I have a friend.

Hans didn’t laugh. He heard the birds laughing, and they didn’t laugh either. Somehow, it wasn’t funny. It would be the same if there weren’t any trees, Hans thought. They were eucalyptus trees.