There is wine and water on the table, next to an oil lamp that only somewhat light up the dim tavern. The food takes time. I’m in a small Roman town 2,000 years ago.
At times, the boundaries between here and there, between now and then, are diffuse. Like when one sits in one’s kitchen on a Friday night, with a glass of wine and the table messed up after a family taco-dinner. It’s soft and one feels fine, allowing oneselve to kind of disappear into…or just dissappear.
And then one sees oneself – as in some kind of holographic projection on the other side of the table, just above the rug – walking into that diner, built in whitewashed stone. Oneself, on the other hand is gray and dusty from travelling, tired and hungry. One gets the feeling that one is in Pompeii, perhaps mostly because that’s one of the few Roman cities one actually know by name. Or perhaps because that’s were one happens to be.
One is a serious figure, sitting there pouring water into the wine. One sits with ones back against the bar and the kitchen, facing the exit. One is some kind of inspector. Or controller. Passing through. To check what? The arena? No, but the spaces where the gladiators stays. Yepp, that must be it. Such facilities must maintain certain standards. There are rules. And oneself happens to be the one to make sure that the rules are complied to.
The job is not overly inspiring, really. Not sexy at all. But someone’s got to do it. And sometimes one have to settle with what one’s got, but one dreams about another life. One of those lives that one lives smiling, in which not every day is something to just get through with…
One is waiting for one’s food. I wonder what one eats in a place like this. By this age. Sheep brain. Sheep brain? Yepp, apparently/so it seems. And some kind of meat soup. And red wine with water. And one eats alone. Just as well.
There is no one else there. Exept for her over there in the corner. Was she there from the start? Maybe she came while one ate. Yes, probably. She seems familiar, one think sitting there eating ones sheep brain. One have seen herbefore. Here. And she seems familiar, one thinks sitting in a modern kitchen among tacos residues. Today, 2000 years later, we live together. Right now, she stands beside me doing the dishes.
She is a courtesan. A prostitute. (The one in the hologram, that is. Not the one doing the the dishes, not what I know of.) She sits on the other side of the room. Beautiful. Obvious. With long and dark and curly red hair, carefully set up to just to look carelessly fixed. She is not anyone. She is better sort. But without airs and graces or flashy jewelry. She doesn’t need that. She radiates the kind of confidence which one can’t really know if it is genuine or rehearsed. It is a bit of both, I realize later.
We know each other. Superficial. Strangely. To pay fore sex isn’t one’s cup of tea. Not usually, anyway.
Not usually. But this time, one ends up in bed with a fallen angel. But one doesn’t pay. Because she’s not on duty. Because it’s something else, of course. Something deeper. We belong together somehow, and afterwards, while she is getting dressed, one try to convince her to stay and we will escape together and one will rescue her to a better life than this and one’s never felt like this in one’s entire life…
But she continues to dress. She’s leaving. She won’t stay. Though she is drawn to me, she fears to stay. She fears another kind of life than the one she’s grown used to, that familiar, safe life she know how to handle. She is not happy but she knows what she’s got, and she puts a red, patterned cloth over her shoulder and leaves…
How was the conditions in the gladiator rooms? I don’t know. One travelled on, I guess. Controlling other places, writing new protocols, eating other sheep brains in other cities. And she? Who knows? Perhaps she stayed, and got burried by the ashes when the volcano erupted.
The hologram fades out, and I take one last sip of the wine and think that it’s odd how different lives braids with each other.