“I absolutely hate him!” she says emphatically, as he threatens to whisk away her fragile collection of mid-century vases and houseware on our balcony. He seems to be everywhere, all at once, his body unrestricted by the laws of nature that govern us. And this body, a force of nature by any reckoning, will not, under any circumstance, allow himself to be confined by these material objects, standing in his way on our balcony. He will destroy everything in his path, not because he’s evil, but because it’s in his nature.
Now he’s got the porcelain in his sights. She can’t bear to watch, but his shrieking laughter — more of a visceral howl, terrifyingly inhuman — is inescapable. He’s not going anywhere, anytime soon and he won’t leave until he’s trashed the whole place, like an ’80s rock star fueled on cocaine in a pristine hotel room. Even when she closes her eyes and covers her ears, she can feel him breathing down her neck. This is the stuff of nightmares.
She’s trembling a bit now, pacing back and forth, waiting to see what he’ll claim next. I muster up the courage and sit down. I’ll try to reason with him, I think to myself. I’m a reasonable guy. But he proceeds to slap the joint out of my mouth and send it floating along the little stream left by the torrential rain. Then he spits in my face and sends a chill that seems to massage the very marrow of my bone.
What a douche.
* * *
I’ve known him my whole life, and, as far as I can tell, he’s always been a douchebag. When I was a kid playing tennis in tournaments at the Haifa Tennis Center, he’d come by JUST to interfere with my match. He’d soar onto the court uninvited and change my ball’s trajectory mid-shot. He’d ruin entire matches for me just for the sake of his own malicious pleasure. When I cried and complained to my coaches that it was unfair and that he was making it impossible to play, my coach would lean in and smile:
“He’s malicious to both you and your opponent, but you let him get in your head and lost.”
* * *
She’s looking up at the flimsy roof of our balcony and questions, aloud, whether it can survive this rampage. He’s already made quite a mess; the clothes that were hanging to dry are now scattered across the balcony, vintage patio chairs overturned, tables on their side, framed artwork attacked by drops of rain and canisters of sugar, tea and coffee are now overturned. It’s mayhem.
He laughs maniacally. What a douchebag.
* * *
When I was in college studying film he’d never miss an opportunity to come and ruin a production. Whether it’s maliciously kicking a flimsy tripod, uprooting an entire light stand or just plain old shrieking so loudly during a take that the audio is unusable. He’s such a menace on the set that I’ve often canceled a shoot because I feared he might show up.
* * *
“He’s raging at 100 kilometers an hour!” She says frantically, but I can barely hear her over his harpish shrieks. He’s pulling at my hair, sending it flying in strands over my eyes and into my mouth. She has this nightmarish scenario in her head that he’ll somehow — somehow — tear down that flimsy roof with his might and leave our assorted treasures exposed to the elements. I reassure her that the roof will hold, but she can sense my hesitation. We were both there when the roof was installed. The contractor was so unfit for that task (or, any task to be honest) that it’s a bloody miracle the roof hadn’t caved in before. Yet, despite the current tensions, I still preferred this flimsy tin roof to the cancerous asbestos one that had been there before.
“Yeah, asbestos or not, it never budged!” she screams at me, as though I’m the one tearing through her warehouse.
* * *
He won’t let me light the second joint that I had painstakingly rolled after he tossed my first one across the patio. I cup my hands around the lighter to shield it from him, and he blows on it. Nothing. My finger gets sore from trying.
What a douchebag.
* * *
He’s not all bad, I suppose. There was that time we were sitting on the grass on a warm summer evening and he breezed right in to cool us off. It was just after our youngest was born and I could tell he was being gentle on the baby’s account. The sun was setting, leaving in its wake a beautiful crimson sky. It was such a tender moment, and one that would have been impossible without him.
* * *
The roof rampage crescendos as he topples boxes, rattles some windows and finally sends a potted plant to its untimely demise on the tile floor. The soil, mixed with the flowing streams of rain water, spread out like murky blood at a crime scene. And with that fatal blow to the plant, he leaves almost as quickly as he had arrived.
* * *
He’s also there in another of my happiest moments. My eldest must have been 6 or 7, and we were at a birthday party for a friend. The party was in the park and, as a party gift, all the kids were given a kite. I can still see — in my mind’s eye — the sheer joy as he lifted the kite up and sent it soaring through the crisp Or Yehuda air, as father and son laughed.
* * *
I finally lit the joint and sat in the aftermath, surrounded by debris, some of which had been swept to my patio from neighboring buildings and houses. The wisps of smoke are unmoved, as if to emphasize his absence. They stand frozen in mid-air until I blow them away.
* * *
“He’s only as good, or as bad, I suppose, as we choose to perceive him.” I whisper to her gently as she sleeps. She turns her head.
Is it the smell of my breath?
“I hate the winter and I hate the wind!” she says, and turns her head.
Like a contrite puppy, he whimpers and the wind chimes dance ever so slightly and sing a harmonious little tune.
* * *
Winter Commute is a pretentious piece of video art inspired by the wind.
Music by Esther Abrami.