Antelopes and Tuesdays

Contrary to popular opinion, Alfredo’s story demonstrates that Tuesday, not Monday, is the worst day of the week.

For ordinary people, getting out of bed after a pleasing weekend seems appalling. Having to take the bus crowded with long faces, having slept very little, and having to face five new working days. The average person centralizes all tension on Monday, and once that hostile day passes by, comes Tuesday, comforted by the knowledge that Friday is getting closer.

That Tuesday, Alfredo arrived early at the office, and drunk a coffee while reading the paper. At the appointed hour, he started working, with his usual efficiency, up until the moment Daniel Porta picked him up for lunch.

When arriving at the restaurant, Alfredo started feeling a tingling in his chest. He didn’t really know if it was in the chest or above, near the shoulders. That feeling, at first confusing, suddenly became clear, and had only one name: anger. A moment of anger rising up in his core without apparent cause, overlapped by the waiter’s intervention.

They sat at their usual table; they ordered pasta and started talking. As usual, the conversation led to foreign policy issues, in the ups and downs of a seemingly civilized world. They spoke for a long time, and suddenly Alfredo could not stand it anymore and said:

“Have you ever felt the need to do something, I don’t know… violent?”

“What do you mean by violent?” Daniel sensed the devastating turn of the conversation. “Something like a squash game?”

“No, no. I mean something really violent.”

“I don’t really know what to say, have you?”

“Yes” it was that kind of «yes» that rumbled away.

“All right, tell me about it.”

“I can’t, it is total madness. Just, forget about it.”

Daniel insisted.

“All right” Alfredo lowered his voice. “I have this destructive need, something perverse, it’s complicated…”

“Don’t assume that I’m not annoyed by our worthless politicians.”

“It’s not that. Do you know what I want to do?”

“…”

“I want to tear an antelope’s horn off.”

“What?” Daniel opened his eyes up to the limits of their orbits.

“That’s right, as you’ve heard. Pull and pull from them until tearing the horns up. I swear that’s the only thing I want to do.”

“Well that is great, congratulations… What about ecology? Besides, in case you haven’t noticed, we are in the middle of the city, a village where millions of dudes live. You can find dogs, cats, pigeons, I don’t know… But, where the hell will you find an antelope?”

Alfredo remained silent, staring out the window at Corrientes Avenue.

Daniel remained serious. They ordered coffee and, once the waiter went away, Alfredo picked up the conversation:

“I have no idea where to find an antelope.”

“Sure, it’s complicated” Daniel added “you also have to bear in mind that they are not gentle creatures. Do you think that they are going to let you tear the horns off, just like that?”

Alfredo remained silent again. The craving of ripping the horns out of the first antelope crossing his way seemed to be in contradiction with the rationality of his daily life.

“I don’t know Daniel, but be sure that somehow I will manage. After doing that, I know I will not be the same person I used to be. Not the one I used to be, I will be a brand-new man, another person. Remember that.”

Daniel nodded, and thought it would be convenient to look for a new lunch partner. Alfredo must be suffering from a personality conflict, or some psychiatric disease. At least he managed not to laugh at his face.

 

Alfredo did not talk about the subject for a period of fifteen days. He knew Daniel would not talk about that in the office, in that sense, he considered himself safe. However, deep inside his soul, the anger was thickening instead of alleviating. He made up excuses to answer to his wife’s questions about his mood swings, his poor appetite, and his frenetic awakenings in the middle of dawn.

Afflicted and feeling guilty in part because of the illness that has tormented him, he decided to seek help from a psychologist. He revised the medical card of his prepaid medicine service and he chose randomly. Luck never fails, he thought. They gave him an appointment for the following Thursday afternoon.

He prepared in advance. He hated to resort to the so-called «professional help» but he had no choice. What if his condition was serious? Or maybe he would be diagnosed with stress and could have the benefit of a week off or something.

He went to the psychologist office in a timely fashion. The secretary asked for his information to complete the medical record. He paid in advance and sat near the TV. After five minutes he heard:

“Who is Alfredo? Oh, you, come in please.” The psychologist shook hands with him and, as he closed the door, asked him unaffectedly: “How are you?”

“Well, if I told you I’m OK, I wouldn’t be here. I can’t either tell you I’m not OK. Let’s just say I’m not so good.”

“I understand, have a seat.”

Like in every first session, the psychologist asked him details of his personal life, «to get to know him», as he said. Deep down inside, Alfredo thought that people actually never get to disclose their real selves under those circumstances.

The session went by quickly and Alfredo went home wanting to stay ten hours more. He didn’t have enough time to say what was happening to him, and he would have to wait seven days for another session.

Sessions went by with that frequency. Almost two months passed by and he did not say a word about the problem he had to anyone, including the psychologist. But the anger, intact, was concentrated within him.

“Alfredo, you know this is our last session. To be honest, I don’t know what you were looking for with this treatment, but over these sessions I haven’t noticed any pathology that would require for us to continue with this. Except for that revulsion to frogs, but that’s normal…”

Alfredo remained silent, showing signs of unease.

“Are you all right?”

“Yes, well… there’s something I haven’t told you.”

“I thought so. If you haven’t felt comfortable with me I would request you to leave these therapy, you can look for another professional to help you…”

“No, it’s not that, the situation is not easy to explain.”

“Time’s up, can we talk about it next time?”

“But… all right. See you next Thursday.”

“See you next Thursday, Alfredo, in case you have an emergency you can call me. Mind you: since the sessions covered by your plan are over, you will have to pay me as a particular patient…”

He left the session feeling worse than when he entered. The elevator’s mirror returned a chubby figure, with a deteriorated aspect, with stubble, and an untidy shirt. “Going home, going home again with this anguish that is destroying me. These psychologists are motherfuckers, but next time, next time I will tell him and that’s it, let’s see the solution he has to offer”, he thought while catching a taxi.

Thursday finally arrived and, once laid down on the divan, the psychologist asked him:

“Where were we…? Oh yes, you said you had something important to tell, I hear you.”

“Where should I start? I have never been a violent person, ever. I always escaped fights and other things like that. But for a while, I haven’t been able to handle it anymore, I have this urge to…”

“Urge to?”

“Rising up, destroying.”

“I think I get it. That happens to many patients, it is pretty normal. Have you tried any relaxing activity? Yoga, for example, it’s very good.”

“I play tennis once a week and I run. Anyways, this feeling is weird.”

“Weird? Please explain yourself so I can understand better.”

“Ok, I will tell you this at once: I have this urge to rip the horns out of an antelope.”

Alfredo explained that he wanted to take the horns off, break them till holding them in his hands. He claimed that, he would not be at ease until that happens.

“What kind of antelope?” the psychologist asked.

“Excuse me?”

“Well, there are American, Asian and African antelopes.”

“I did not know that! I suppose any kind of antelope; yes, any kind would be fine, as long as it has horns.”

“Dead or alive?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

With determination, the psychologist wrote something in his notebook, he trimmed the paper and gave it to him.

“I will be waiting for you next Tuesday, seven o’clock afternoon, be there on time. Don’t ask questions, trust.”

“But…”

“Trust. It’s your decision” he said categorically.

Alfredo put away the card in his pocket without looking at it. Anxiety flowed through his veins, and he showed signs of unrest. He decided that it would be better to have a walk, after all he did not have anything else to think about.

He arrived home at approximately eight o’clock, more serene.

“Where have you been?” Elena asked, worried.

“I stayed talking with el gallego[1], he has his aunt hospitalized and I didn’t want to leave him alone. He is not the same since his wife left him.”

“Poor guy, you should have invited to come and have dinner with us.”

“I told him but he said no, he had to go to the hospital and then he had a meeting with someone. I didn’t want to ask him many questions really.”

While his wife was finishing with the preparation of dinner, Alfredo took a shower. Covered only by a towel, he took the notebook’s sheet out of the wrinkled pants and he read: Corner of Bartolomé Mitre and Boulevard 25 de Mayo. Close to home, he thought. Then he realized that there was something else written: San Martín, Provincia de Buenos Aires. He put away the card in his wallet and had dinner with a relaxed attitude.

 

The given day, Alfredo took the train in Retiro, he got off in the corresponding station and walked the five or six blocks that separated him from the appointment with the psychologist. It had been ten years since the last time he had been in San Martín, but things seemed not to have changed that much. The same bumps, the same musty humidity of sun-dried leaves, the dull boulevard and the rush of people walking bored across Belgrano Pedestrian Street.

One block away he spotted the psychologist standing on the corner. He waved from afar, not even understanding the situation. For the first time in his life, he thought he hit rock bottom.

“Good afternoon, Alfredo” the psychologist greeted, with the same dazzling hairstyle he used to flaunt in his office. “It would have been ideal to go for a coffee, but we don’t have enough time, so I’m going to explain the plan directly.”

“The plan?”

“Pay attention: you said you had an uncontrollable desire to rip the horns out of an antelope?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Great, you also said you really don’t care if it was dead or alive, am I right?”

“Yes” Alfredo replied, worn-out, one step beyond good and evil.

The psychologist explained that there was an armory right in front of them. The idea was to enter and, while he distracted the salesman, Alfredo would have enough time to satisfy his uncontrollable desire: rushing to get his hands over an antelope head and rip the horns out of it. According to the research carried out previously by the psychologist himself, there are two specimens in total. He didn’t hide the possible risks of the operation, but he considered that if everything went according to plan, Alfredo would be a bright new man.

He convinced him.

Determined, they crossed the street heading to the armory, they passed through the glass swinging door and they entered. At first sight, there was a large counter that covered almost the entire shop, there was an elephant leg stool and several stuffed animal specimens.

While the psychologist started with the charade, Alfredo pretended to have interest in a hunter’s vest.

Suddenly he saw it, and it felt like love at first sight: the set of horns over the plastic eyes staring at some point of the store. Dominated by the most primal of the instincts, he threw himself over the lifeless figure, he pulled it out from the wall, and throwing it to the floor, he materialized the task of ripping the horns out.

In a parallel world, the salesman went out of the counter in slow motion to ravish the «horn flaunter». The psychologist skillfully tackled him on the way. They retreated at full speed. The salesman went after them, but the physical condition of hunting and fishing enthusiast cannot even resist half a block of trot.

After running ten blocks, Alfredo, exhausted and holding the trophy in his hands, hugged the psychologist and told him:

“You were right, you have no idea how good it feels. If you ask me, I would do it again, it was worth it. Squeezing and pulling, swinging and stretching…”

“You are an idiot, Alfredo” the psychologist interrupted.

“Why do you say that?” he couldn’t believe it “Wasn’t all this fucked up armory thing your idea?”

“It was indeed my idea.”

“Then you are the idiot!” Alfredo replied, exhilarated.

The psychologist pointed out to the set of horns:

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but the animal you just attacked was not an antelope.”

 

[1] a native or inhabitant of Galicia in Spain

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