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The boys

It hadn't been his fault, that...thing with Patrick, during the party after the finals. He had been so handsome, so young and innocent. Mr. Mertens was enchanted by his clear eyes behind the intellectual spectacles. He would have done anything for him. In the dark corridor Patrick had challenged him. He heard the music in the auditorium. He pulled the submissive body against his own. Their mouths found each other. Then the lights were switched on. A shocked vice-principal was looking at them, behind him stood a couple of sixth-graders.

'Mr. Mertens, you don't stick to our agreement. You don't take your pills, you put yourself and others in danger. You should be more careful.' The doctor looked at him angrily. Mr. Mertens thought of Patrick. The boy hadn't given a sign of life. He had been looking for him, every day again. After his release he had had time enough to search, to follow boys and speak to them. He went from bar to bar, from coffeshop to student's club. 'Mr. Mertens', the doctor continued, 'You disappoint me very much and I have to mention that in my report. If you go on like this you will be operated, and that will not be fun. You understand that?' Mr. Mertens nodded. He knew the law.

The liquor burned in his body, Mr. Mertens felt cramps from his stomach to his head. He stumbled to the toilet, stuck his indexfinger deep in his throat until the last residues had left his stomach. Carefully he went up the stairs. In the bathroom he took off his dirty clothes and took a long shower. With the water his misery flushed away. He stretched himself naked on the bed.

'Mr. Mertens, can you hear me?' He blinked. Where was he? He was in the garden, laying on the ground, half between the bushes. His back ached. He heard voices. White figures came out of the dark. The formed a circle around him. A choir of angels, Mr. Mertens thought, I am in heaven. He recognized the faces, the shapes. The angels introduced themselves in obeisance: Sieto, Martin, Laurens, Nico, Chris, Joost, Robbie, Helmar... He saw all the boys from grade 6. No, not all of them, really. Where was Patrick? The angels clapped their hands, loud, louder en faster, then softer. Silence fell.

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With graceful movements the angels slowly undressed. The bodies were gorgeous, more beautiful than he could remember. He himself was naked too, he realised now. No need to be ashamed, he still made a good appearance for his age. Mr. Mertens felt cheerful and happy. The boys hopped, shuffled, trampled on the muddy soil. They made little jumps, turned cartwheels and did all kinds of weird gymnastic excercises. Then they formed, hand in hand, a circle around their teacher. They performed an old-fashioned dance and sang: hon, or, on, oh, hon or on, you, oi.

Me, you, Mr. Mertens wanted to say, how, what,... The boys came closer to their teacher. The circle closed him in. Hands moved over his body, touched his arms and legs. Slowly fingers moved over his head, tickled his ears, tenderly touched his neck. Mr. Mertens was all on fire. The boys mumbled, hummed, sang. The, the, the deo, detheo, tetok, tok, tok. Suddenly he saw Patrick's face in front of him. The boy kissed him on his mouth and cheeks. Then roaring with laughter he pressed a black chicken against Mr. Mertens' forehead. The animal pecked viciously between his eyes. Pain shot into his brain like a thunderbolt. He felt warm blood running along his nose.

'Wake up, Mr. Mertens.' Squinting with headache he saw two people towering over him. A woman clad in white laughed at him. 'The bandages may come off now, Mr. Mertens!' A fat man assisted her. Slowly the sweaty tape was removed from his forehead, small eyebrowhairs came along. 'Mr. Mertens,' the man said, 'Can you hear me? We have removed the tumor, There were almoast two peas in the saddle. Your hypophyses functions excellent, normally, but to make sure, we will again carry out an extended blood- and urinetest. We'll scrutinize the whole flow of hormones, trophically, etcetera. We'll keep you under observation for a while. All this weeks' test have been good.'

While he was speaking, the surgeon moved his head closer to Mr. Mertens. The fat man almost was on top of him. 'The wound is clean', the man said, 'there won't be a large scar.' With increasing clarity Mr. Mertens saw his pale face reflected in the convex lenses, and then he saw, horribly scary, his bloody third eye. It was white, blue and red. The eye winked at him. Mr. Mertens screamed. In a split second he realised the truth. I am deformed, he thought, that gue is lying. People will despise me, laugh about me, sneer at me. He cried, wept, sobbed because of himself and all the boys in the world. If only he were dead.

Olaf Korder

all translations: Huub de Bel



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