by Ştefan Serşeniuc
translation from Romanian by Dorina Burcea [MTTLC student]
click aici pentru versiunea română
He has been a good guy all his life. Good guy. He even seemed to have a predestinated name, Goody Goodfella, G.G, same initials as “good guy”, but everybody just called him Goody.
In school, he passed whether he knew the lesson or not. All teachers would give him an F and, if he said a little extra of the lesson, he would even get an E. Rarely. Goody spent his school years without once being a bad guy, without being lectured, without laughing during classes. He never skipped the Chemistry classes, like everybody else did, and at the other subjects he would get passing grades because he was, well, a good guy. Nobody noticed him and he didn’t try to be noticed. Guys did not consider him for the football team and girls did not give him a second glance. Oh, wait! There once was a girl he liked. He spent a couple of days thinking about her but then he found out she had somebody, so being the good guy that he was, he never told her a thing. At the end of high school, when they called out all the names for one last time, they missed his, and just so he wouldn’t upset anybody, he didn’t say a thing. Nobody noticed. The same thing happened with the yearbook. He had to pay 25 lei for the picture but in the end he wasn’t in it. Nobody knows why. Being such a good guy, he never asked.
He found work with a cast iron foundry. They did not really want him because he was kind of puny and they were looking for workers who were, well, better built. They told him he can try out for a week so they can see if he is strong enough, if he can use a sledgehammer because this was tough work. Don’t expect much of a pay, the master told him, and don’t ask for a raise ‘cuz you’re just trying out. Wait until they hire you for real. Two years passed and Goody, being the good guy that he was, never asked for an extra penny afraid he might bother someone, since the times were like they were – difficult.
He was still living with his mother; where else could he go? The poor woman did not have much of a salary either. She was working in a kindergarten, helping around the kitchen. Every night she would get dinner ready and wait for him. She ate before he got home and when he sat down at the table she sat down with him. She would sit on a little stool and watch him eat. He ate and she watched him. Goody didn’t know anything about his father. He once tried to ask his mother and she started to cry. Being the good guy that he was, he never asked since, afraid she might start crying again. Once, they sent him to help at another foundry, someplace far – he had to take the train to get there. They asked him, can you go? Being the good guy that he was, he went. It was hard because he did not have a car and he couldn’t get home at night because there was no evening train. So he rented a room and he slept there. He would return home on Saturday mornings. He had no money to buy food and he wasn’t good in the kitchen either so he would eat some bagels from a bakery on his way home. But it was fine, on Saturday mornings his mother was sitting on her little stool with plenty of food on the table and he would eat in two days enough for a whole week. He ate and she watched him.
There were two other rooms in the house where he had rented his. In one of the rooms lived a student and in the other a guy and a girl who would go at it day and night. Goody could hear everything but being the good guy that he was he never said a word. One evening when they were just about over with their day love making and before starting the night love making, they began to fight. They shouted at each other all through the night and until morning. When he came back from work with the string of bagels in his hand, Goody found the girl crying; being the good guy that he was, he gave her a bagel. Through tears and hiccups he understood that she was pregnant, had no money to pay the room and nowhere to go. Goody, being the good guy that he was took her in in his room nd gave her the remaining bagels while he slept on the floor with his head on the bag of dirty clothes.
In the morning, before going to work he went to the landlord and paid the rent, his and theirs – that of the girl and of the man who had left her. It was a Thursday. The next day it was Friday and the week was over. On Saturday morning he got on the train and together with the girl went home to his mother who was waiting for him sitting on the little stool. When she saw the girl, she got up, put another plate, spoon and fork on the table and brought another stool. Monday, back to work. On Monday evening it was the first time they slept together. The bag of dirty clothes for laundry was empty anyway and there would have been nothing for him to rest his head on.
After another three months he was called back to his home town. They both went back. They had a big bed so there was enough room for both of them. Now both women were waiting for him when he came back from work. His mother on one little stool and the girl on the other. He ate and they watched him. After a short while she gave birth to twins. A boy and a girl, both looking like little angels. Goody, being the good guy that he was couldn’t recall a happier time in all his life. And neither could his mother. Now, when he comes back from work all four of them are waiting for him. He eats and they watch him.