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10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 25 10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 25
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-04-30 08:18:00
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25. A commercial writer

This is usually the part I wish Marc would call, even Mandy could call and give me an excuse to get out of there, wherever this 'there' might be and at the moment this there was here and I was becoming more and more desperate, especially every time Juha added more cognac to their coffee. Before we finished with the usual starters that included holiday memories from a Greek island and their fondness for Greek food Johnny had joined the company.

I was still on the same cup of coffee, I suppose that I drink my coffee very slowly has something to do with the fact that I smoke. It has always been a joke between my friends that I can have a cup of coffee in front of me for hours until it gets totally disgusting! A habit I cannot change doesn’t matter where I am and occasionally has caused me troubles but this another story. At the moment I’ve better explain who Johnny is; well it is a strange guy who doesn’t do anything else than constantly walk and give a headache! I’m joking of course, the cognac had obviously finished and whisky started to be poured into the cups making me wonder if there was any coffee left.

However, Johnny is a bad companion, especially early in the morning, and I have to admit that the situations made me feel pretty uncomfortable, you see Leena was a nurse and according to what she had said the other day there was an evening shift waiting for her and I would definitely not like to be under her responsibility with all this whisky she was drinking even though Juha seemed to have the generous portions. Soon the conversation stopped surrounding tourist issues and centred on Juha. Of course Leena was watching every single word he was saying and you could see that she was totally bewitched by him.

“I have written many books!” Really? I’m really sorry I cannot read in Finnish but is really nice that you manage to publish in this country, must be quite difficult! And while I was saying these last words the man gave me a real evil look. His eyes had gone red from the alcohol and somehow I was sure he hadn’t started with the coffee we had all together. “There is all these, you know!” he said looking at me straight in my eyes, “this group that hates all of us who have talent…” I didn’t say anything; I was just looking at him knowing somehow what was going to follow. “All these bastards who hate the real talents and in the name of commercial they stop art, real art!” Oh yes, I had heard the same story so many times!

The man was obviously drunk and the way he was leaning over the small coffee table I could smell his full of alcohol breath and I started feeling sick. “It is all these bastards who don’t want me to reach the people but I will show them!” his voice had gone a bit higher as well. “You said that they have publish your books?” I nodded, not in Finland, and that was long time ago! “So you are commercial?” well, I write children books and mainly I illustrate them, that’s how it started. Both of them looked at me.

Well to make the story short, somebody very dear to me from my past helped me once upon a time to write the first story and then I did the illustrations and that was it! “That was it?” there was nothing good in Juha’s voice when he said that. Apparently that’s it! The book was published in early seventies and soon it became some kind of best seller among three and four year-olds, I had a second, third even sixth publication I think and of course then it was easy to sell the next one and then the next one!.

Juha looked furious for a reason I could not really understand, he was holding the refilled cup so strongly that I could see his finger joints turning white and for a minute I was afraid that the cup was going to break. The cup didn’t break but he suddenly stood up and stormed outside the room! “He’s gone for a cigarette,” Leena said apologetically and that moment I really wanted a cigarette but somehow I didn’t like the idea of joining him outside. “He is very sensitive you know,” she said looking at the floor. “He’s sure that no publishing company is going to publish his book, because it is so …modern!” I didn’t know what to say!

Juha had stepped inside and now his face had a bright red colour, probably the same colour with his red blood ring; he sat next to Leena and like he had never been away he started, “of course they are not going to publish it, it is not commercial enough, it is not a children’s book!” I didn’t have to defend my work and actually I’m very proud of the books and the short stories I wrote, actually I wrote them mainly for me and I didn’t care if they will ever find the shelves of a bookshop as long I could see them printed but then again writing and illustrating a children’s book despite to what the many believe is not an easy job with too many rules to abbey if you want kids to read it.

But before I collect my thoughts and give an answer Juha had started again, “why anybody would pay to publish a book that says the truth?” without meaning to provoke him since I had enough of his attitude I asked what was his book about. “It’s a novel that combines history and my philosophy!” oh god, I thought, this was definitely the first time I heard anything like that! Why people think that they have the philosophy or the idea nobody else has thought about and they think that the rest of the world is obliged to read them?

All characters and events depicted are fictional, and any resemblance to persons living, dead, or fictional or situations past, present, or fictional is purely and completely coincidental. 

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