The Architect

‘Hurricane’ is a well-known bar in Toronto. Dozens of visitors come here daily to escape their boring routines and drown them in alcohol to the sound of a buffoon who, most of the time, volunteered to mock himself with artistic verses in a lively karaoke. A diversity of men and women from all over the world gather in this unique and attractive place, where they feel free to drink, gossip, flirt, dance and sing. The space gives the upfront impression of feeling inside a giant egg due to its oval and long appearance, the tables make a circumference from the entrance to the exit, and in the center lies the point of amusement: a subtly illuminated bar behind a bizarre karaoke stage, a sound system and a pair of coloured LED lights that served as a show for all newcomers.

It was Monday, January 28, 2019, and Michael had just left work, earlier than usual due to the frigid weather. Toronto was being blasted with the heaviest snowstorm of the season, and he was concerned about getting home safely. It took him 2 hours to drive back home, the city was a total nightmare and the storm was only getting worse every passing minute. That night, once he made it home, with his feet wet and all covered in snow, he decides to take a hot shower in order to keep himself warm. Meanwhile, lost in thought, his mind gets caught in a daydream and persuades him to go venture out; he comes out of the bath, puts some clothes on, applies some cologne on his neck, requests a Lyft drive on his iPhone and right when he is about to leave, he contemplates himself in the mirror for a few seconds: dark under-eye circles, he felt tired but he looked unbelievably good, handsome despite the hustle and bustle of the day, and he intuitively sensed that it would be an unforgettable night.

It was a quarter past nine when Michael got off his Lyft drive that had dropped him off two blocks away from his destiny. The storm had worsened; the strong, bitter winds were slapping his face  as he walked on the buried-in-snow pavement. Around him, downtown lights of all colours were severely dimmed by the inclement, gloomy weather. His attention was focused on one  distinctive place: the appearance was, by far, different from the others, not precisely because of its architectural beauty, but for its originality and authenticity, among dozens of similar venues. <Hurricane>, he read, with red incandescent light threads that shaped the letters of the name of the bar. “Coincidence?”he rhetorically asked himself while approaching and walking into the eccentric place.

Pop and latin music overlapped with fuss and laughter, drinks clashing and a smell of agaveand wood wrapped around the interior. Only a few would check out those coming through the door, this led Michael to walk towards the bar almost unnoticed. One of the bartenders, however, notices his presence and offers him a welcome booze on behalf of the house. Michael smirks and kindly thanks him, followed by a burning sip, blatantly feeling his inner self defrosting almost instantly. He takes a look around, surprisingly full of people, and a stage standing in front of him catches his attention with lights dazzling him a bit. –It didn’t look that high from the entrance!he thought, –it should be hilarious to make fun of myself after some beers” he mumbled to himself while the bartender poured a special cocktail for him.

-If you’re craving your minutes of fame and you’re not afraid of public embarrassment, let me know and I’ll play a song for you.– says the bartender after hearing him mumbling. Michael’s face turned as red as the colour of the thread lighting outside. At that moment, a young, tall man approaches to the bar area to learn about the preparation of the drinks and engages in chitchat with the bartender. Michael notices his unusual accent so he does not hesitate to interrupt the conversation.

-Hello fella! Do you mind me asking where you’re from? –asks Michael.

Hello. No problem. I’m from Caracas, Venezuela. What about you? My name is Federico by the way– the young man replies.

-A pleasure, Fede-rrrr-ico. I’m Michael. I’m originally from New Brunswick but moved here a couple years ago. And wow, welcome to the cold north. How’re you liking it so far?

The conversation went on for a while until they decide to move to a table, and Federico introduces Michael to his friends. He seems attracted to the interesting foreign man. Both of them talk pleasantly for a long time, while drinking beers and cocktails. Suddenly, everyone starts talking about how cold Canadians are in relationships compared to Latin people. Everyone agrees except for Michael, the only Canadian at the table.

-Though it may be a general perception, I am not cold. And I know many others who aren’t either, but I understand why you guys think that, specially here in the shallowest city of Canada. –Michael replies.

Federico laughs and swallows a tequila shot.

-Why are you laughing?–asks Michael with a disenchanted stare.

-Regardless of where they’re from, I have decided to just stay single. I’ve seen the amount of nonsense that is done and undone in the name of “relationships” not only in my own experiences but also in friends’ experiences as well, and I am glad not to be part of that any longer. Relationships are messy, for sure they’re not made for everyone. I have actually come to terms with the idea that it will be just me for the rest of my life, and that’s okay– Federico contends in a defiant tone.

A million things came to Michael’s head, but he chose not to continue that conversation. His gesture was quite clear and he got up from the table to go to the washroom. The men’s washroom was on the left side of the stage, so Michael had to walk in a semicircle to get there. On the way, a man bumped into him, which pretty much upset Michael. The stranger, very embarrassed, stares deeply at his eyes and apologizes.

On his way back to the table, Michael kept thinking of the déja vùthat he had just experienced, intrigued by the man and his strange physical resemblance to Federico. “If they were brothers, I’d say Federico is the youngest, no doubt,”–he thought. Despite the annoying stumble, he felt a slightly disturbing magnetism. When he sits back at the table, Federico stares at him with a silly face and challenges him to sing. Michael, lost in thought, refused to go up to the karaoke stage, excusing himself not to be drunk enough to make a fool of himself.

-Bartender, another round!– asks Federico, trying so hard to encourage everyone to sing.

Michael, absorbed in his own thoughts, smiles reluctantly as he observes the stranger staring at him on the other side of the stage, sitting all alone at a table; his sharp gaze showed his inquisitive eyes like two swords pointing towards him. For a few seconds, Michael felt completely intimidated, but his curiosity kept him from looking down.

Meanwhile outside, the storm was worsening, and Michael got worried about his return home. As Federico walks up to the stage, the stranger approaches Michael to invite him a booze so as to redeem himself. He accepts and moves to the stranger’s table to hang out for a few minutes.

-Did you sense the gravity force of the universe pulling us together minutes ago?  – the stranger asks, as though he knows about Michael.

Michael smiles assertively, but does not say a word. He felt somewhat confused, he thought it might be the alcohol finally getting to his head.

-I’ll show you something–the stranger uses his iPhone and plays a recording. Michael was overwhelmed and decided not to drink any more for the rest of the night. Following that, he listens to the enigmatic voice note and gets paralyzed. A soon as the recording stops, the stranger looks deeply into his eyes and lets out three powerful words that would change everything:

-I’m the Architect.

Federico, drunk enough to sing in public, walks towards the karaoke platform and gets a lot of praise from everyone. “La Quinta Estacion”starts playing and he abruptly drinks one last tequila shot before taking control of the microphone.

—«HACE DIAS PERDI… EN ALGUNA CANTINA… LA MITAD DE MI ALMA… MAS EL QUINCE DE PROPINA»

Michael was shocked. The dèja vù had taken on meaning and a very real one. He had been waiting for that moment for years; his dream has become his reality. While he tried to find words to exteriorize his emotions, the silence was being invaded by Federico’s euphoric voice singing in the background.

—«HOY TE INTENTO CONTAR QUE TODO VA BIEN AUNQUE NO TE LO CREAS…»

-What do you see right now?–the man asks.

-I see you, and him, two very different men, and very alike at the same time– Michael replies, realizing that he has been quiet for several minutes.

-He is very mature for his age, although he still has a long way to go. But he will find you again– says the mysterious man, looking at Federico singing.

Michael looks at him straight in the eyes, stunned, without saying a word.

—«SUEÑOS DE HABITACION, DE UN HOTEL DE CARRETERA… Y UNAS GOTAS DE LLUVIA QUE GUARDO EN ESTA MALETA…»

-Look closely–says the stranger.

Michael remembered Federico’s skeptical views towards relationships, which turned out to be quite similar to his. Turning his gaze towards the stage then, he says:

-Why is he relevant anyhow?

-Sometimes what we see in people is merely the projection of our deepest fears and insecurities instead of what they really are.– the stranger interrupts him, turning his sharp eyes towards Federico on the stage. – You projected all those onto him, hence, onto me.

Michael was shocked about the accuracy of those words, until he figured out the mirage that his subconscious had created.

-Trust me and I’ll show you a lifetime– he recalled his dream out loud.

—«AUNQUE A ESTAS ALTURAS UN ULTIMO ESFUERZO NO VALGA LA PENA»

Michael saw more clearly then, he had been with the same person the entire time. His mind had embodied the Architect, the man of his dreams, in two different facets: the first, a projection of his darkest fears and insecurities, singing heartbroken on the stage; the second, bumping into him as a course correction to make him aware of his mistakes.

—«HOY LOS BUENOS RECUERDOS SE CAEN POR LAS ESCALERAS…»

-Coincidence? –the stranger asks, with an impatient look and a sarcastic tone.

Michael looks at him with a confidence and passion with which he had never looked at anyone before, and without saying more, he takes over his sarcastic tone. He knew what the answer was, but he had his body language speak for him.

-What’s meant for you will find a way of hitting you even if you try to avoid it. I’m the Architect. I’m the love of your life. If you love me, be as powerful as a hurricane, as intense as a storm, no matter the circumstance, we will always find a way to each other– the stranger wraps up, with the mindset of a futurist and such eyes that saw things in a way that few could even imagine.

-A storm, more intense than the one that just brought me to you– asserts Michael, now thinking about the actual storm waiting for them outside.

The no-longer stranger takes him by the hand. They get up from the table and decide to leave together to write their own story. In the background, the voice of a mind projection singing on the stage vanished subtly:

—«Y TRAS VARIOS TEQUILAS LAS NUBES SE VAN PERO EL SOL NO REGRESAA-AA-AAAA…»

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