the first morning on earth felipe apaletegi   I  felipe apaletegi I’m in an airplane, In a missile. I’m flying over the top of everybody. I don’t see that much. I guide myself through my scattered memories without too much of an idea where I’m going. It’s my last day. Last feelings. I’ve put The Bends on really loud, till my head hurts. Till my brain boils. Till I disappear.
It seems to me as if I first came to this world many, many years ago, a thousand or two thousand years ago, maybe, when I first reached this small and wet little place of ours in this world.
I’m looking for my keys but I can’t find them. I’ll have to jump over the fence now. I’m at the entrance to the rented apartment, bedside the fence. I can’t get in. Iñaki and Xabier should have been here. I find it strange they’re not. I turn off the music. Some things are clearer to me without music. Some others aren’t.

I jump over and go into the apartment. That’s the idea. Zap!... Smack! Zap, zap, ufff! Zap. Plonk! The surf boards are still there. The sea is calm – no waves I suppose. The four boards. We brought four with us to Guadalupe but we’ve only used three. Iñaki’s is broken. We’ll have to put a claim in to Air France when we get back.
I walk all around the apartment but I can find no trace of anybody. Iñaki and Xabier aren’t here. They’ve played this same trick on me two or three times now. I get up really early to have breakfast. I always have it in the same place. It’s a bakery that is always full of serious druggies, systematic alcoholics, darkskinned gamblers and heads who are hooked on Ketamine. They only know French and I, to tell you the truth, don’t really know too much about Gallic concepts and grammar. The Isle of Guadalupe, a French Colony.

I’ll have a nice, refreshing shower and then I’ll have a nap. There’s an envelope. In one of the corners, Attention Phillip. My mates acting the eejit again. I open it and it’s in French. Inaki’s Angolan French is telling me to go to the supermarket. I shower, go outside and head off to the supermarket. A small happy-looking black guy says hello and asks me to wait for a moment. Wait, please. Wait. Yes, I’ll wait.
Another slim black guy approaches me from a corner, his eyes fixed on mine. He hands me another bit of paper in French. I don’t understand a word. The second black guy, who can tell by my reaction, tells me to go to a house over on the corner. My answer. I’d like to know what I’ve done. I go back over to the house. A small hotel. It’s a small hotel. There’s another man there, and he knows me as Philip. Yeah, that’s me. I’ve come to answer your questions.

I carry on. I go into the house. Into what looks like some kind of workshop. It is a workshop. He told us that things were very quite on the industrial front. Stephen told us there was no racism there. It took us just two hours to find out what the story was. The blacks don’t talk to the whites, they don’t have anything to do with them. They leave them/us to one side.

A man steps in front of me and he tells me I’ve come to answer for what I have done. I say yes. What is all this nonsense is what I said. I go into a small room that’s there. It looks like a cowshed. I see Iñaki and Xabier there.
f. – But...
x. – Where have both of you been?
f. – At the apartment. And you lot?
i. – I was having a beer and a girl gave me a piece of paper that told me to come here.
x. – I started talking to a bloke at the Post Office and he said there was a pice of paper for me at the doctor’s.
f. – Has somebody here done something? I don’t know; something? Get out with it right now. Drugs? Girls? Music? Anything?

A small man walks into the cowshed. He tells the doors are open and that we are free to go if we want. Then another big fat black guy tells us to go in, and we deeper into the workshop. There are five men sitting behind school desks. Fairly spectacular. We sit down. The biggest one stands up. He’s got a moustache. He doesn’t say anything for a minute.
-Felipe Apalategi, Iñaki Bandres, Xabier Illarramendi...
-Yes – the three of us answer.
-You all have to answer for your behaviour. The French State and the Dresson Community have officially opened up a file on you. The man beside you is a lawyer.
-Isn’t he the slim sad thirteen year old boy who works at the bar?
-No. He’s your lawyer.
-Where’s the Consulate? Or somebody from the Government?
-There is no Consulate.

I’m on top of a plane. On a missile. I’m flying over the top of everybody. Upwards. Always upwards. I don’t see too much. I don’t believe in anything.

The guy with the moustache seems to be the judge, but by the look of him and his clothes, he certainly doesn’t seem the type to be in a court or to be a judge. The guy acting as the prosecutor is the boy who works at the bakery.
It’s him alright.

e. – Ok, in line with procedure, your file will be explained to you shortly. Because of your behaviour, we started looking into you in Paris. We’ve had somebody on you ever since. In a coordinated fashion, we’ve observed all your work and movements.

We pick up our file, they’ve left the doors open for us. They’ve all gone either home or to work. We’re left here looking like right fools. We don’t know what to do.

x. – Let’s go or what?
x. – Let’s read the file. It’s a process. Let’s read it.

The Bends.

The File
File nº 123.477.988
Jean Pier Doménach. Border Police.

Xavier Illarramendi.
Felipe Apalategi.
Iñaki Bandres.

Destination: The Isle of Guadalupe.
Motive: surfing.
Possessions: four surf boards between the three of them.
Other: strange behaviour.

Inspection and surveillance

Clodine Yeloba. Owner of House.
They behave normally during the day. They arrived with Stephan, a boy from Biarritz, on Monday. They are to spend two weeks here. They paid me for everything on the first day. They have surf boards, there are four bags. On the surface, they seem normal. They have gone out every day. They’ve played bowls and drunk beer. They get back late, sometimes quite merry. They go surfing every day, normally to the Le Mule beach. They like music. They play Sade, Al Green and unbearable Spanish stuff. They have had no contact with anybody from the village. They don’t seem to like girls. They go to the bakery to have breakfast in the mornings, and then they go surfing. They normally have dinner at home. There is a strong smell of sausage meat at times. No evidence has been found.

André “Pelo Nancy” Portier
They have come to surf everyday. They have normally come to Le Mule. They have been on the beach ten days. They have bathed twice everyday. The sea was rough for two days. Big huge waves. The one called Xabier throws himself and his board into every possible tube with no criteria whatsoever. The other two fall around laughing, even though their behaviour is openly dangerous. They have spoken about cheese. At least twice. It hasn’t really been a good time for waves, but on at least four days they’ve bathed a lot. There have been manycurrents everyday.

Norah Fawncy. An English girl.
The truth is that they have behaved more or less normally since they arrived. They like music but they haven’t danced a lot. They always wear flip-flops, and I have seen them drinking beer on two occasions. My friends don’t know whether thy like girls or they’re Basque. They have no contact with others. They have spoken about some bottles of cider. They told us to help ourselves to some sausage if we wanted. There’s some type of party, or something like it anyway.
On Thursday they went to the beach in the east. They went for a swim and then they had a few beers with the bar-owner, the Dutchman Anthony. They staggered home after drinking 23 beers in four hours.

Ahmed Sebastián. Baker.
Normal behaviour. We’ve had a few beers together. They said they’re going to have a dinner on Tuesday. About 12 guests are going.
While we were having dinner, they produced some sausage and cheese. I ate two sandwiches without realising it was sausage meat. They gave a Finnish girl some cider. They were trying to get her drunk.

-Is that all?
-Where’s the problem?

The Bends.

The man with the moustache walks back into the cowshed. He’s wearing an apron, and my friends are with him. He suddenly rushes up to me. He grabs my head and hands. A slap across the face. Another. He starts screaming. Another two slaps. My friends are splitting themselves with the laughter. Amaia is there, Guillermo, Xabier, Andrea has turned up, Borja, Iñaki... I see Urdaneta. I see Sebastian Coe race along by my side. I see Laika the dog. Walessa. I clearly see myself shaking his hand. I’m nervous. I see Jean Paul Gaultier. Amaia has shown up. I’m heading upwards. Always upwards. Non-stop. And my life has passed before them all. Nobody helps me. What can I do? I’m heading upwards. Maybe I come up too fast in too little time. I’m soaking with sweat, chock full of life, above everybody else, ahead of time. At this moment, without realising it, like a supersonic idea, I think of you, in that narrow little hospital bed. My first morning on this Earth.

The Bends.

The first morning.