The Story Behind the Man

By Iris W., 6th Grade

March 2016

The sun washed Paris with its warm honey glow as it inched down the sky, and the aroma of toasted croissants and bitter black coffee drifted throughout Champs Elysees. Andres Arena impatiently tapped his foot as he scanned the passersby for the familiar hazel-caramel eyes that stood out on the pale face. Where was she? She had promised to meet him at Cafe LaCour at 6. He studied his fake Rolex watch (it had cost him 3 months’ worth of selling fake designer purses by the Seine). It was already 7:42.

Andres abandoned his seat and strolled down Seine River, glancing at the breathtaking spectacle of lights. He sighed. Andres soon discovered that he had sauntered into his drab neighborhood. Cats yowled and the flickering lamps died off. The unpleasant odor of unwashed bodies and sewer water filled Andres’s nostrils. He suddenly halted at a filthy, grimy, gray brick building that leaned to one side like the leaning tower of Pisa. He entered and trudged up the stairs, morning his life. He had no friends, he had no money, he thought he had a mistress, and he didn’t exactly have a job. All he had was a dumpy, hideous, and demanding wife.

Andres came to a sudden halt. A large poster that was not there the day before advertised something about a new life. Andres squinted at the large words. Due to the fact that his parents were always trying to make ends meet when Andres was young, he never was fully literate. The poster advertised a new life in a new world. Andres was intrigued, and he imagined what it would be like to experience another life. Andres, a trapped and miserable fellow, now had a chance to prosper!

Once he reached the top of the stairs, Andres inhaled air, but instead of breathing in the musty, damp odor, he smelled the aroma of chocolate and expensive red wine. He heard the praises of many, and he felt the luxurious velvet sofa.   

“Where have you been?!” a sharp voice barked. Andres snapped back into reality; he could smell the musty air again. Not wanting to talk to his grouchy wife, Andres sauntered out of the room and kept daydreaming about the extravagance that was waiting for him in the New World.

 

A few months later, Andres strode through the sandy beach. His wife had died of pneumonia, so he felt free to venture off to a different land. As he looked around, Andres was shocked to see little huts of the natives and acres of uncultivated lush land. He wondered what his profession ought to be. He admitted to himself that he had no formal training nor any money left. Andres suddenly noticed a twinkle of gold in the powdery sand. He reached down and what luck! In his hand was a tiny golden coin, just enough for a sip of red wine. Feeling slightly cheered up, Andres rushed to the nearest and only pub he could find.

Spotting a seat in the crowded pub, Andres took out his coin and ordered a drink. The second Andres gulped down the wine, he got a deep desire to be in Paris, enjoying the fine Rose wine with his mistress. Lost in his daydream, Andres suddenly became conscious of the conversation of the men next to him.

“It’s a shame, truly, that my daughter is not feeling well due to this horrible New World climate,” a stout man dressed in robes of gold declared.

“Hear, hear, I could not have said it any better. These conditions in the New World are just subpar. My brother and his whole family have been lying in bed the whole past month,” a man in silk robes and a fur scarf uttered.

“I think the natives are making us sick!” a man with heavy ruby rings snorted, banging his meaty fist on the table.

“Hear, hear,” the crowd cried.

An idea popped into Andres’s head. Carefully, he inspected the crowd at the bar, taking in their robes and gems. Yes, this crowd would certainly pay a hefty amount of money for someone to heal their sick. Without thinking, Andres declared, “ I am a doctor, so I can heal all of the sick.” Everybody turned to the grubby, poorly dressed man whom they hadn’t noticed.

“You speak the truth?” a man in diamond studded silver robes purred, a mischievous glint in his eye.

“Yes, I am one of the finest doctors from Europe,” Andres croaked. Due to the fact that he had no money to buy medicines and tools, Andres decided what had to do. “But, of course, you first must pay me for my services,” Andres added, trying his best to be professional.

 

As he entered the stuffy apothecary, Andres observed the products around him. There were herbs, medicines, bugs, and miniscule vials containing all sorts of things. His pockets jingling with gold, Andres bought almost everything inside the store. He even purchased a thick medical book.

“You don’t know much about medicines do you?” the old hunchbacked hag who ran the store rasped.

Offended, Andres snapped, “Who do you think you’re speaking to? I am one of the finest doctors from Europe.”

“If you were such a medical guru, you would know that half the supplies you purchased are poisonous if used excessively,” the old crone grumped. Grumbling and mumbling, the crone disappeared through a doorway at the back of the apothecary. Relived that the hag was gone, Andres started jamming his pockets with more medicines. As he was strolling towards the exit, Andres caught sight of a battered medical book that looked exactly like his. Opening it,  he saw notes in the margins and crossed out instructions. Looking around, he snatched the book and replaced it with his own.

 

Andres gaped at the stone palace in the middle of luscious acres of land. So this is where the wealthy people live he thought. As soon as he rapped his knuckles on the colossal dark oak doors, a strict maid opened it.

“You are late,” she snapped, not letting Andres respond. “Go to the room on the right,” the maid bristled. Andres quickly strode down the hallway and disappeared behind the door.

Perched in the middle of a vast four-poster bed, a frail, pale woman coughed. The woman had blister-like rashes all over her skin.  

“Can you help her?” the man with ruby rings boomed.  Andres studied the lady for a second and consulted the hag’s medical book.

Relieved when he found it, Andres announced, “She has chicken pox.” Studying the picture in the book, Andres slowly fished out a vial in his bag and poured the liquid into a needle. After that, Andres injected the needle into the woman’s skin. Swiftly striding away, Andres exclaimed, “She will be better in a week,” as he vanished behind the door.

Miraculously, the woman recovered, and the news spread throughout the village. The servants gossiped to the neighbors, and the neighbors mentioned the news to the merchants, and the merchants whispered it to the farmers, and overnight Andres became the toast of the town. When Andres woke in his hotel room, he discovered an endless line of people pleading to see him. One had a broken tooth, and another nursed an infected toe, and someone else ranted on about her swollen tongue. Imagining all those shiny coins in the people’s handbags, Andres picked out the richest nobles and invited them into his room. He would then attend to the simpler folks.

Over time, Andres grew wealthy, and he ordered a stone and plaster mansion be built in the middle of town. He had exotic, colorful parrots delivered to his mansion, and Andres demanded the finest chocolate from Europe.

All was going well until the man in the diamond-studded robes realized that he was no longer the richest man in town. Filled with jealousy and greed, he brewed up a plan to destroy Andres’s reputation. The man found an ancient native who looked like he would fall apart if someone pushed him. The ancient native could not walk and had to be carried into Andres’s reception room.  When Andres noticed the fifthly visitor, he immediately turned to him.

“Do you even have any money?” Andres snarled.

“Yes,” a voice said. “There will be plenty of that coming.” Andres was partially blinded by the glint of the man’s diamond-studded robes in the sunlight. Oh… it’s him again, Andres thought. The last time Andres had seen this man was at the bar when he first arrived to the Americas. Although he was filled with astonishment, Andres ushered the native and the rich noble into his mansion.

Gaping in bewilderment, Andres studied the native again. He had examined the ancient man for hours, using every lotion, medicine, and trick Andres had. His sharp eyes glinting with glee, the man in the diamond robes drawled, “Looks like you are not a doctor after all.”

Andres’s cheeks burned with embarrassment and shame. He clenched his fists and gnashed his teeth. More than anything he wanted to get rid of these two, but then it dawned on him that if he did, news of his failure would spread. Calculating his next move, Andres stared at the native and finally uttered, “I will give you 200 gold coins to keep your mouth shut.” Eyes glittering with greed, the native smiled in consent. Turning to the rich noble, Andres snarled, “You wouldn’t want your daughter to suddenly disappear because of your big mouth, would you?”  

Once the door to his mansion closed, Andres felt the moisture on his palms. He went to the bathroom to wash his damp hands and his flushed face, but the water was not soothing. Andres suddenly felt his stomach churn, and he started salivating. He threw up, and he realized that his forehead was burning. Andres desired to turn back time so he could undone his threat and bribe. But what would that accomplish? His reputation would be destroyed if word got out that he was a fraud. He would lose all his customers and have to sell his mansion and servants. He pictured himself hopeless and poor like he was in Paris. In the end, Andres realized that he had to do what he had to do. From now on, he would do anything to maintain his wealth and reputation. He vowed to never attempt to treat a native again. Andres made himself believe that the only reason he couldn’t cure the native was because they were animals, and he was a doctor, not a veterinary.       

 

Andres’s failure changed him drastically. He started not to care whether he sent villagers to the church for a funeral. Andres began to despise natives and refused to heal them. Caught in his misery, Andres started to eat more and more chocolate, an attempt to drown out his agony. The richer he got, the deeper his lust for Paris. Soon, Andres became a greedy, selfish person who believed he could get exactly what he desired by playing with people’s minds. But then one day, Andres realized he couldn’t… and that is where the story of Kino begins.

One thought on “The Story Behind the Man

  1. Zachary Wang

    Good job Iris!!!! It’s been so much fun seeing your writing improve and I enjoyed your article so, very much. You portray Andres very well and his actions reflect his personality on-point. This story is so creative and the narration flows smoothly. The article entertains, but it also makes the reader think about their thoughts and personalities. Keep up the amazing work!!!!
    With love,
    Zach

    Reply

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