The weatherman

Eric adjusted the camera lenses, rotated it anti-clockwise and then clockwise. He  looked up from the camera to the man sitting in the chair in front of him. A man in his early sixties with a dark, Mediterranean complexion. The wrinkles on his face, the cheekbones especially, seemed like sand dunes on a long lost desert. His salt-and-pepper of hair reached his shoulders from underneath his silk black turban and his extensively long beard, almost grey now, reached his collar bone. He sat there so still, almost as if he was unaware of the hullabaloo that took place around him. His chestnut brown mascaraed eyes gazed in deep thought at the nothingness surrounding them. His black kurta and pajamas looked almost anciently unwashed and Eric could swear on God he had never seen a man smell as much as he did.

“Just a second please”, he said as he went over to his laptop. He adjusted the screen resolution to the appropriate so that the camera could focus on the man’s whole body upto his knees.

The steel door behind him opened with a loud screech and another man, a man in his early 30s with skin so white it was almost milky, came in. “Are we done yet?”, he asked. He then ran his hand through his blond, curly hair and took sip from the can of soda in his other hand.

“Yeah we’re done”, said Eric. “Say how did you get soda around here?”

“Some kid sold it to me. Said he also had pornographic DVDs with him. Had to pass him on that one.” he grinned. He then picked up his bag from the table beside him. The words ‘Discovery Channel’ flashed on them. He zipped it open and took out a blue plastic file from it.

He then walked over to Eric. “Check the phones would ya?”

Eric went over to the man and tapped his collar mike. A rumble of Congos filled up the tiny green room. “Hullo, hullo”, he spoke in the mike. The old man still sat there devoured in his nothingness.”Yo Sammy, turn down the bass a bit. It feels like a rock concert in here.”

Sam clicked on the sound icon on the laptop and decreased the level of the bass.

“Hullo, hullo”, said Eric in the mike, “Yeah much better.”

Sam then put on his own collar mike, tested it and then went on to sit on the chair next to the camera . Eric went back to the laptop. He clicked a few keys “You ready Sam”

“Yup!”

“You ready sir?”, he asked the old man who still seemed lost and uninterested.

“Sir?” asked Eric.”Sir?” A little louder this time.

The man then jolted a bit, as if been awoken from a deep slumber. He looked around him and went “Yes?”

“Are you ready?”

He looked around. “Oh yes, yes. Is this thing working? Am I on TV right now?”

“No sir your not on TV right now. The episode won’t air until a couple of weeks from now.”

The man then winced a little at his own unaware foolishness “Oh right right.”, he said.

Sam was rather surprised at the man having no foreign accent of such.

“Ok so we start in 5,4..” He gestured 3,2,1 and then a thumbs up from his palm towards Sam. Sam then looked up at his file and went on.

“OK  so this Interview number one in a series of the upcoming few.” said Sam in his mike. “Broadcasting for Discovery Channel under the category ‘New Arab untitled project’. We’re interviewing Mr…” He went on to read from his file  “Salem. Say what’s your last name sir? We don’t have it over here.”

“There isn’t.”

Sam looked up from his file, “Excuse me?”

“There isn’t one”, said Salem. His face still expressionless.

“Oh okay. Um..can you tell us, being an Arab, how could you speak English so well?”

“Oh we just can.” said Salem. “The same way we could speak many other languages.”

Sam paused for for a bit and then went on “Ok so Mr. Salem, it says in my file here that there is no exact birth date of yours. Almost how old would you be right now in your estimate.”

Salem thought for a bit. Then said in a tone of extreme confidence, ” A little more than 2 million years.”

Sam winced a little, then stared at Eric who gave the same puzzled expression. ” 2 million years?”

“Yes I think that would be the roundabout time” said Salem. His face still blank.

Sam searched for an expression of “Just kidding” on in his face, but there was none. “Umm…Okay so you’ve been here for a quite a long time then.”

“Well….compared to humans? Yes. Compared to our kind. Well, lets just say I might still be a kid.”

Sam now frowned. He thought of skipping the introduction part. The man now seemed to be a maniac anyways, but then he had to get every possible information. So he went on anyways, “Your kind? What is your kind?”

“Oh I’m afraid I must not speak of that.” he said. For the first time during the whole interview Sam could notice his eyes move around. As if searching for some intruder in the middle of a private conversation.

“This has been a big mistake”, said Salem. He started to look scared now.

“What is it?” asked Sam, ” What has been a big mistake?”

“This…this…” said Salem. “This whole thing.”

“Mr. Salem would you please calm down.” said Sam. “What is it that is bothering you?”

“Oh you don’t know them?” said Salem. His whole body trembling now. His eyes now wide. “To go against their world is one thing but this…this……” He stood up.

“Mr. Salem…” said Sam. “Mr. Salem would you please sit down now. Mr. Salem I want you to calm down.  This show won’t air until some time from now. Nobody is going to know about this, I swear.” Eric stood up from the laptop and poured a glass of water. He handed it to Salem.

Salem drank the water and began to sat down. His body muscles began to relax now.

Sam sensing the frailness of the man’s mental condition decided to wrap this up quickly.

“Are you fine now?” he asked. Salem didn’t answer. He again went on staring into his vast nothingness.

“Lets take it up from the top again. This time with no background information” Sam then heaved a sigh and went on.

“This is interview number 1 in a series of a few for the ‘Discovery Channel’ under the category ‘New Arab Untitled Project’. We’re interviewing Mr. Salem. Mr. Salem you were rumored to have come only about a week ago in the village of al-Mutila. Is that correct?”

Salem remained silent. His face now looked that of a scared kid. Sam decided not to invoke him much and so went on “It’s written over here that you came here a day before the storm that uprooted the whole village. You went to the village head Mr. Khaled Mehmood and said and I quote, “Evacuate the village. Run away! There’s a storm coming your way. You’re all going to die.” Is that true Mr. Salem?”

Salem had started tremble again. He stared into the camera, then at Sam and back into the camera.

“Mr. Salem, how did you predict the storm when the weather was all clear that day?” asked Sam and then realized that situation had now gone out of hand.

This was too much for Salem. He stood up again and started walking towards the door. “I can’t do this….I..I can’t”, he mumbled.

Eric and Sam rose from their chairs and headed towards him. “Mr. Salem…MR. SALEM!” said Sam as he began to chase him but it was too late. Salem had stormed out of the door and closed it behind him.

There was a loud rumble from the clouds. Sam opened the door and went out of into the field. The clouds thundered again and a gust of wind flew the yellow, dry leaves with them. Salem was to be seen nowhere.

 

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