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Disclaimer: Grim Fandango belongs to LucasArts. I'm not making money with this story and I'm not associated with the company in any way.
It is late and the port town of Rubacava is buried in the darkness brought by the night. That darkness just terrifies those who don't live here and it makes them nervous, glance behind their back and take a better grab of their guns.
But to us, the people of Rubacava, the darkness is an old friend. It brings the feeling of safety and peace and covers the dirt from our eye sockets. It makes everything seem like a dream and somehow loveable.
The streets are covered in darkness and it is easy to hide in shadows, either to look for safety or prey on someone. During daytime there is no movement in Rubacava, it is just a plain and ugly piece of something on the shore of the Sea of Lament. But at night...
At night thieves, gamblers, drunkards and assassins crawl from their little hiding spots to enjoy the action night has brought. Casinos, clubs and bars are not open at day, they are opened when the dim lands upon us. It is the only right way to take care of things, during daylight Rubacava is boring.
Those who just pay a visit in our town before continuing their journey towards the Ninth Underworld don't approve the "life" in the upper town, but what really makes them sick is what happens at the docks. To them we are just poor souls who have long time ago lost their chance of salvation.
Dammit! I'd really like to show those stupid fools some real Rubacava. I always tell myself I will do it, but there is always something more important. I know I say more than I do, but so what?
I sigh and look around in my dirty apartment. It is already past midnight and I have closed my store a while ago. No one will come this late at night, even if I kept it open. Only sailors take tattoos and they have all painted the town red by now.
I could as well take sip or two too, this has been a very hard day. Somehow I feel my days are getting harder and harder the longer I live in Rubacava.
I snort. Stupid, maybe I'm slowly getting soft.
I have seen many arrive in Rubacava happy and strong, but this town has the talent of breaking any soul. Some of those who were supposed to stay for a few days only are still here and none of them is like before.
Membrillo, for an example. I remember how I collided with him on a pier day or two after he had arrived and he greeted me. He was happy and told me he would sail away in the next ship. I didn't say anything to that, just grunted angrily. Damn those who bother me.
He didn't care, he was in a too good mood back then. It is something I don't remember experiencing in a long time.
It's been ten years now and Membrillo is still here. I don't know why he didn't leave and it doesn't interest me. He has become quiet and when I rarely see him I can almost smell his depression. Nowadays it's almost impossible to make him leave his morgue.
And who is to blame?
Rubacava is not the town of happy and honest souls, only a naive idiot can believe something else. You won't survive here if you are not ready to do everything for yourself. Membrillo wasn't and now he is like that.
What about me, then?
I snort again. Maybe I really am getting soft if I am thinking about stuff like this.
I am who I was when I arrived here. The angry little man who has nothing good to say to anyone, about anyone or anything. I am the one who gets everyone else in a bad mood and who is never invited anywhere.
And that makes me the strongest one of them all.
I don't care about anyone else besides myself and it has provided me the opportunity to survive this long. I was already angry and depressing when I came, Rubacava has not made any of my bad sides more obvious.
It is the other way around.
I have lived here over then years and as nasty as admitting it is, I have a weakness too. A weakness I realised only in here.
I hear a small knock on my hatch door and it wakes me from my thoughts. I notice that even though I have an open bottle in my hand I haven't drunk yet. I shook my head in silence and place the bottle on the table.
"Damn," I mutter to myself, whoever it is bothering me at time like this will really hear what I have to say.
"Come in!" I call not even trying to keep the annoyance away from my voice. I never say anything nice to anyone and you shouldn't even expect it, especially if you are stupid enough to bother me in the middle of night.
I watch inirritation and wait to see who it is this time. Maybe some stupid sailor who for some reason isn't completely drunk yet?
But then when I recognise the visitor all of my bad mood fades away.
My only weakness.
"Lola? What are you doing here at this time? It is dangerous to wander at the docks this late," I scold. She shrugs and sighs.
I'd like to sigh too, the girl is in trouble again.
"What is it this time?" I ask sounding just as frustrated as I feel. I know Lola doesn't mind, she knows me quite too well already.
"Nothing," she replies.
I know she is lying, that girl is always having trouble with men. She is so innocent and somehow sensitive, so differentfrom the sluts in Rubacava. Maybe that was why I felt sympathyfor her when I first saw her.
Rubacava is cruel to everyone, but even crueller to those who are not corrupted. And when I saw Lola for the first time I knew she'd never adapt to this town. She believes in such things of the Livingas friendship, loyalty, compassion...
Damn, I don't get it why she wasn't given a ticket to the Number Nine!
"Don't be as stupid as you look like. Tell me what's wrong," I say angrily and she laughs quietly.
She was very confused and alone when she arrived to Rubacava. She had no idea how the town worked and it was clear she had lived a protected and safe life. She didn't know what to do or where to go and it really looked like Rubacava would swallow her in no time at all.
And then I did something damn stupid. Imagine, I had everything I needed and nothing to complain about. For years I had insulted souls with no problems and watched how they were destroyed and bam, one little girl makes me feel bad.
Lola shrugs again. "I don't know Toto... I am so confused," she says.
When she had arrived here I watched her doings for a while before getting enough and going to talk to her. I was probably the first one who had showed her any compassion, because her face brightened and she was very happy for me coming.
It was something I had never experienced before.
I know damn well I am an annoying shrew and no one can say I look good. I'm small, always dressing in the same clothes and I'm almost totally covered in colourful tattoos. So not a pleasure for anyone's eyes. Or eye sockets.
In Rubacava I had only received despise and hate, and I always threw it back. It was the best for everyone, in Rubacava it is not healthy to get too attached to anything. The sailors came to me only because I was the only one in the whole town who could draw decent tattoos.
And that sweet creature was happy to see me.
"Aww, bullshit. Now tell me what is it with you, I want to go to sleep," I say to her. I already know what is going on though, and it doesn't surprise me at all.
It just makes me feel sad.
Unlike everyone else in here Lola doesn't feel good if someone doesn't love her. She needs a man who doesn't care about anyone else and is ready to take care of her forever. Someone loyal, honest and nice.
A man like that doesn't exist in Rubacava and she knows it quite too well. And yet she continues searching ending up disappointed time after time.
"It is Enrico. He sets sail tomorrow," Lola says sadly. A miracle she had been expecting something else to happen.
Enrico is a sailor who has visited me a couple of times getting a tattoo or two. I don't know him that well, but he looks much better than some of his colleagues. He spotted Lola immediately and the girl of course thought she had found the love of her afterlife.
"Bah. You knew that would happen eventually," I say. I've never said her anything comfortable, but she still knows I mean good.
All those who know that Lola visits me are sure that we are sharing a father-daughter relationship of some sorts. No one thinks we are closer than that, and it's not a surprise. Who in their right mind would settle with me?
Lola thinks of me as a father figure and it's much more than anyone like me could wish for. She counts on me and leans on me every time her relationships fail and fail. She cares about me and it makeseven a hardened shrew like me feel touched.
She is fragile and innocent like a blossoming rose, the only one in this town who cares about me. I once told a sailor she is like daughter to me. He said that he hoped Lola will one day find a man who cares about him.
Lola sniffs and I feel she leans on my shoulder. It's damn funny, she is taller than me and still needs my support.
"Toto, will I ever find anyone who loves me?" she asks quietly and I already know she will fall asleep soon. She is tired, sad and maybe even a bit drunk. Why didn't I notice it sooner?
"Of course you will, if there just is someone stupid enough to take you," I mutter and let her sleep.
Sometimes I hope I could be that man, but I know Lola is not meant for anyone like me.
Maybe someday someone will make her happy, but it is not my job.
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