When the hurricane calmed down, the old man went on his journey. The road was long and
twisty, and he felt like stopping many times. Why should he keep on, was going to die
anyway. Today or tomorrow. Who cared? But the wind kept calling him, enthralling him, the
wind felt good in his beard, soft and lively, like a song he used to know, though he
couldnt remember what song, still he followed its rhythm and kept walking. Maybe he
would find that old pot of gold he heard clinking at night when the wind blew. Maybe he
would find the secret, the door hidden in the lost tree far away in the mountains.
He had to go on because thats what he had been doing all his life,
walking, listening to the wind. Though he would hate to admit it, the wind was his
friend, especially a good strong wind he could identify with; one that would twist
his soul and break it if he were not strong enough.
On his way, the man met a donkey, standing all alone in its patch of mud since
the grass had been eaten long ago. He could see the bones protruding on the donkeys
flanks; it was not a nice sight. There were patches of hair missing; it was a
little wobbly on its feet, but it still had beautiful ears, pink and shiny.
"Hey brother! Want some company?"
The old man felt lonely, had been walking on this road for hours without seeing
anybody, just the cars driving by, accelerating when they passed him for fear that he
would ask for a ride. The donkey looked at him, didnt say anything what did
you expect? This is not a fairy tale but it looked up, and the old man sat down on
a rock beside it. When he opened his backpack, the donkey nuzzled his neck, curious,
hungry, both maybe. They shared a piece of bread. The old man kept the meat for himself,
wouldnt feed a donkey a piece of horsemeat, would he?
When the old man got ready to leave, the donkey stared at him with its sad eyes,
didnt have to talk, just looked at him, and the old man couldnt move.
"What do you want? I cant give you anything, dont have anything more
On this, the old man tried to leave, avoiding the donkeys eyes, but again he
couldnt move. He started getting angry, tried not to look at the beast that
seemed so pitiful he knew he might be tempted to help it.
"Whats the matter with you. Let me go now! Enough!"
Still he could not move. He checked his legs, his shoes. Nothing. Everything seemed to
be working. He wasnt superstitious and wasnt going to start to be now.
Without looking at the donkey, he put one foot down, then the other, then one foot after
the other, started walking. At last! He kept walking, at first as fast as he could, then
he slowed down. Was getting tired; could see the sun falling behind the hill. The sky
He saw a cottage that seemed abandoned; the windows in the top floor were broken. It
was empty, moldy, stank a little, but not too much. He found a place on the porch were he
could be comfortable and before he knew it the old man fell asleep. He dreamt that
night, tossed and dreamed so much that when he woke up the next day his bones ached. He
stirred slowly, looked around him, surprised at first, then he saw a familiar face staring
into his eyes, as if waiting for him to awaken.
The donkey. He couldnt believe it. It was the donkey, still looking at him with
its sad eyes, and the old man read something in those eyes that he did not want to
Please, take me with you!
He got angry suddenly, so angry that he lashed out at the ass:
"I dont want anything to do with you, old fart! You can barely walk, just
going to die on me. Dyou think I need that, do you?"
The donkey looked.
"I can barely take care of myself, what can I do for you? Dont even have a
good enough knife to eat your meat once youre dead. Did you look at your scratchy
hide? Couldnt even use it to pee in. Leave me alone!"
The donkey kept looking straight at him.
"If you dont stop that Im going to hit you, thats what you want?
Im going to kick your ass so hard, Ill send you directly into the other
The donkey kept looking, its ears pink and shiny in the sunrise. The old man was so
angry that he hurled his backpack at the donkeys head. The donkey fell on its knees,
but kept looking at him. Its eyes were now sad, so sad. The old man lost his anger,
"I cant do it, dont you understand. Cant! Did it, done it,
cant do it anymore. CAAAnnnt".
The donkey kept staring until the old man gave up, sat down on the ground beside it,
took its head in his lap and started petting it, carefully, at first barely touching it,
then his fingers freed themselves and moved all along the donkeys body, feeling it,
feeling the life as it slowly left it. When the old man got to the donkeys head, he
looked into its eyes for the first time. He saw the most beautiful piece of water he had
ever seen, water lilies dancing in the sky, moving into the breeze.
He kept stroking the donkeys head. The sun was shining brightly into the
donkeys eyes where he saw the back of a wave deep down in the water; he kept
stroking. For the first time in his life, the old man felt happy.