A Treatise on Shelling Beans

A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski Read Free Book Online
Authors: Wiesław Myśliwski
relaxation, it’s actually better when there aren’t that many mushrooms. Him, he said, when he needed to relax he’d head off into the woods even if there weren’t any mushrooms. Take his basket and his penknife and go looking.
    It would be a source of great pleasure to him if we could do that together. I took a liking to you, he wrote. On that very first evening I had a feeling we could become friends. I value people who I can tell in advance are hard to make out,impossible even. I’d really like you to come. The cabin has all the amenities. Fridge, radio, TV. There’s a bathroom with a shower, a water heater, you just need to turn it on and in a short while you have hot running water. Upstairs there are two bedrooms, we won’t get in each other’s way. If you wanted to bring someone along I can sleep downstairs on the couch. Or I’ll take my vacation at a different time and just visit on Saturdays and Sundays. I have a boat, we could go out on the lake. And if you like kayaking, you can borrow the neighbor’s kayak. You could even go with his wife. She’s good-looking and she likes to go kayaking. He’s some director or other, he’s had two heart attacks and spends all his time indoors because the sun bothers him. No wonder she gets bored. And the bored ones are always the most willing. You really must come. Write and let me know when.
    I wrote back to say thank you for the invitation, but for the moment I wasn’t able to take him up on it. As he knew, I played in a band, I wasn’t a free agent. And in those kinds of clubs the musicians rarely have much time off. Only when the club is being renovated or redecorated. I thought that would discourage him.
    But a short time later he wrote another letter. And it was the same thing all over again. He was inviting me, when would I come. I replied with a postcard saying thank you, I send my best wishes, but let’s wait till I have more free time. But he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He wrote one letter after another, and in every one he kept repeating his invitation.
    In one of the letters he gave me his phone number and asked for mine, saying he often wished he could call me up. I could hardly refuse, but I made a point of saying it was hard to catch me at home. Rehearsals in the morning, gigs in the evening, and life in general kept you busy, as he well knew. He rang on what turned out to be the same day he’d gotten my letter:
    “I’ve been calling and calling since morning. You’re right, it’s hard to get a hold of you. But there’s nothing like the sound of an actual voice. Letters are fine, but they don’t speak. There’s no comparison with a live voice. Hearingyou, it feels like we’re meeting again. Have you decided yet when you’re going to come visit?”
    This went on for years. I would always put off replying to his cards and letters as long as I could. Then I’d apologize, saying it was for this or that reason, I hoped he understood. He understood completely. In the next letter he’d send me an even more enthusiastic invitation. One time he wrote to say he’d gotten a color TV to replace the old black-and-white one in the cabin, he told me what kind, how big of a screen it had. Another time he said something else was new there. And with each letter he painted an ever more vivid picture to convince me to come. While I for my part felt an increasing distrust toward him. To be honest, I even started to be afraid of him, suspecting him of something, though I couldn’t have said exactly what. He was trying to drag me into something, that much I was sure of. Or maybe it just seemed that way to me, because distrust toward other people was the defensive wall I’d built around myself.
    With every letter he grew more heartfelt, almost poetic, and so open toward the world that it terrified me. In one letter he said, you can’t imagine how the smell of sap from the woods fills this place, especially in the early morning. It’s a pleasure just

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