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Paulo Coelho - The Winner Stands Alone

Re: Paulo Coelho - The Winner Stands Alone

Postby rumblefish » Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:41 pm

The Winner Stands Alone : Chapter IX by Paulo Coelho

Her mobile phone rang.

…none at all.

It continued to ring.

She was still travelling back in time as she gazed out at the tobacconist’s and at the little girl eating chocolate, then she finally emerged from her reverie, realised what was happening and answered the phone.

A voice at the other end was saying that she had an audition in two hours’ time.

She had an audition!

In Cannes!

So it had been worth crossing the ocean, arriving in a city where all the hotels were full, meeting up at the airport with other young women in exactly the same position as her (a Pole, two Russians and a Brazilian), and going round knocking on doors until they found that shared, exorbitantly priced apartment. After all those years of trying her luck in Chicago and travelling now and then to Los Angeles in search of more agents, more adverts, more rejections, it turned out that her future lies in Europe!

In two hours’ time?

She couldn’t catch a bus because she didn’t know the routes. She was staying high up on a steep hill and had only been down it twice so far – to distribute copies of her book and to go to that stupid party last night. On both occasions, when she reached the bottom of hill, she had hitched a lift from complete strangers, usually single men in magnificent convertibles. Everyone knew Cannes to be a safe place, and all women know that good looks help when trying to get a ride, but she couldn’t leave anything to chance this time, she would have to resolve the problem herself. Auditions follow a rigorous timetable, that was one of the first things you learn at any acting agency. She had noticed on her first day in Cannes that the traffic was almost permanently gridlocked, and so all she could do was get dressed and leave at once. She would be there in an hour and a half; she remembered the hotel where the producer was staying because it was on the ‘pilgrimage route’ she had followed yesterday, in search of some opportunity, some opening.

Now the problem was what to wear.

She fell upon the suitcase she had brought with her, chose some Armani jeans made in China and bought on the black market in Chicago for a fifth of the real price. No one could say they were fake because they weren’t: everyone knew that the Chinese manufacturers sent 80 per cent of what they produced to the original stores, with the remaining 20 per cent being sold off by employees on the side. It was, shall we say, excess stock, surplus to requirements.

She was wearing a white DKNY T-shirt, which had cost more than the jeans. Faithful to her principles, she knew that the more discreet the clothes, the better. No short skirts, no plunging necklines, because if other women had been invited to the audition, that is what they would be wearing.

She wasn’t sure about her make-up. In the end, she opted for a very light foundation and an even lighter application of lip liner. She had already lost a precious fifteen minutes.
11.45 a.m.

People are never satisfied. If they have a little, they want more. If they have a lot, they want still more. Once they have more, they wish they could be happy with little, but are incapable of making the slightest effort in that direction.

Is it just that they don’t understand how simple happiness is? What can she want, that girl in the jeans and white T-shirt who just came running past? What could be so urgent that it stopped her taking time to contemplate the lovely sunny day, the blue sea, the babies in their prams, the palms fringing the beach?

‘Don’t run, child! You’ll never escape the two most important presences in the life of any human being: God and death. God accompanies your every step and will be annoyed because he can see that you’re not paying attention to the miracle of life. Or indeed death. You just ran past a corpse and didn’t even notice.’

Igor has walked past the scene of the crime several times now. At one point, he realised that his comings and goings might arouse suspicion and so decided to remain a prudent two hundred yards from the scene, leaning on the balustrade that looked out over the beach. He’s wearing dark glasses, but there’s nothing suspicious about that, not only because it’s a sunny day, but because in a celebrity town like Cannes, dark glasses are synonymous with status.

He’s surprised to see that it’s almost midday, and yet no one has realised that there’s a person lying dead on the main street of a city which, at this time of year, is the focus of the world’s attention.

A couple are approaching the bench now, visibly irritated. They start shouting at the Sleeping Beauty; they’re the girl’s parents, angry because she isn’t working. The man shakes her almost violently. Then the woman bends over, obscuring Igor’s field of vision.

Igor knows what will happen next.

The mother screams. The father takes his mobile phone from his pocket and moves away, clearly agitated. The mother is shaking her daughter’s unresponsive body. Passers-by stop, and now he can remove his dark glasses and join them as one more curious on-looker.

The mother is crying, clinging to her daughter. A young man gently pushes her away and attempts mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but soon gives up; Olivia’s face already has a slight purple tinge to it.

‘Someone call an ambulance!’

Several people dial the same number, all of them feeling useful, important, caring. He can already hear the sound of the siren in the distance. The mother’s screams are growing louder. A young woman tries to put a comforting arm around her, but the mother pushes her away. Someone attempts to sit the body up, and someone else tells them to lay her down again because it’s too late to do anything.

‘It’s probably a drug overdose,’ the person next to him says. ‘Young people today are a lost cause.’

Those who hear the comment nod sagely. Igor remains impassive while he watches the paramedics unload their equipment from the ambulance, apply electric shocks to Olivia’s heart, while a more experienced doctor stands by, not saying a word, because although he knows there’s nothing to be done, he doesn’t want his colleagues to be accused of negligence. They place Olivia’s body on the stretcher and put it in the ambulance, the mother still clinging to her daughter. After a brief discussion, they allow the mother to get in too, and the ambulance speeds away.

No more than five minutes have passed between the couple discovering the body and the ambulance leaving. The father is still standing there, stunned, not knowing where to go or what to do. Forgetting who he’s speaking to, the same person who made the comment about a drug overdose, goes over to the father and gives him his version of the facts:

‘Don’t worry sir. This kind of thing happens every day around here.’

The father does not respond. He’s stilling holding his mobile phone and staring into space. He either doesn’t understand the remark or has no idea what it is that happens every day, or else he’s in a state of shock that has sent him immediately into some unknown dimension where pain does not exist.

The crowd disperses as quickly as it appeared. Only two people remain: the father still clutching his phone and the man who has now taken off his dark glasses and is holding them in his hand.

‘Did you know the girl?’ Igor asks.

There is no reply.

It’s best to do as everyone else has done, keep walking along the Boulevard de la Croisette and see what else is happening on this sunny morning in Cannes. Like the girl’s father, he doesn’t know quite what he is feeling: he has destroyed a world he will never be able to rebuild, even if he had all the power in the world. Did Ewa deserve that? From the womb of that young woman, Olivia - the fact that he knows her name troubles him greatly because that means she’s no longer just a face in the crowd – might have sprung a genius who would have gone on to discover a cure for cancer or drafted an agreement that would ensure that the world could finally live in peace. He has destroyed not just one person, but all the future generations that might have sprung from her. What has he done? Was love, however great and however intense, sufficient justification for that?

He had chosen the wrong person as his first victim. Her death will never make the news and Ewa won’t understand the message.

Don’t think about it, it’s done now. You have prepared yourself to go much further than this, so carry on. The girl will understand that her death was not in vain, but was a sacrifice in the name of a greater love. Look around you, see what’s happening in the city, behave like a normal citizen. You’ve already had your fair share of suffering in this life; now you deserve a little peace and comfort.

Enjoy the Festival. This is what you have been preparing yourself for. is owned and maintained by Sanjaal Corps, Nepal. The company offers Webhosting and Domain Registration Services, IT Solutions and Business Analysis. website features H1B Visa Information, Entertainment Portal, Link Directory Service, Free Articles, Free Open Source Tutorials on Java and J2EE Platform, Digital Photography, High Resolution Picture Gallery and Free Reliable Image Hosting Services. Future plan includes Open Source Software Development Portal, Technical Solutions and Customizable Movie and Music Arena. We would be introducing data backup, data recovery, data hosting and voip solutions. Stay free from phishing - our website does not ask for your credit card and banking information. Happy Surfing!
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Re: Paulo Coelho - The Winner Stands Alone

Postby rumblefish » Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:43 pm

The Winner Stands Alone : Chapter X by Paulo Coelho

Even if he’d had his swimming things with him, he would have found it difficult to get anywhere near the sea shore. The big hotels had, it seems, acquired the rights to great swathes of beach which they had filled with their chairs, logos, waiters and bodyguards, who, at every entry point, demanded the guest’s room key or some other form of identification. Other areas were occupied by huge white marquees, where some production company, brewery or cosmetics firm was launching its latest product at a so-called ‘lunch’. People here were dressed normally, if by ‘normal’ you mean a baseball cap, bright shirt and light-coloured trousers for men, and jewellery, loose top, bermudas and low-heeled shoes for women.

Dark glasses were de rigueur for both sexes, and there was little bare flesh on show because members of the Superclass were too old for that now, and any such display would be considered ridiculous or, rather, pathetic.

Igor noticed one other thing: the mobile phone. The most important item of clothing.

It was essential to be receiving a constant stream of messages or calls, to be prepared to interrupt any conversation in order to answer a call that was not in the least urgent, to stand keying in endless texts via an SMS. They had all forgotten that these initials mean Short Message Service and instead used the key pad as if it were a typewriter. It was slow, awkward and could cause serious damage to the thumb, but what did it matter? At that very moment, not only in Cannes, but in the whole world, the ether was being filled with messages like ‘Good morning, my love, I woke up thinking about you and I’m so glad to have you in my life’, ‘I’ll be home in ten minutes, please have my lunch ready and check that my clothes were sent to the laundry’, or ‘The party here is a real drag, but I haven’t got anywhere else to go, where are you?’ Things that take five minutes to be written down and only ten seconds to be spoken, but that’s the way the world is. Igor knows all about this because he has earned hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to the fact that the phone is no longer simply a method of communicating with others, but a thread of hope, a way of believing that you’re not alone, a way of showing others how important you are.

And it was leading the world into a state of utter madness. For a mere 5 euros a month, via an ingenious system created in London, a call centre would send you a standard message every three minutes. When you know you’re going to be talking to someone you want to impress, you just have to dial a particular number to activate the system. The phone rings, you pick it up, open the message, read it quickly and say ‘Oh, that can wait’ (of course it can: it was written to order). This way, the person you’re talking to feels important, and things move along more quickly because he realises he’s in the presence of a very busy person. Three minutes later, the conversation is interrupted by another message, the pressure mounts, and the user of the service can decide whether it’s worth turning off his phone for a quarter of an hour or lying and saying that he really must take this call, and so rid himself of a disagreeable companion.

There is only one situation in which all mobile phones must be turned off. Not at formal suppers, in the middle of a play, during the key moment in a film or while an opera singer is attempting the most difficult of arias; we’ve all heard someone’s mobile phone go off in such circumstances. No, the only time when people are genuinely concerned that their phone might prove dangerous is when they get on a plane and hear the usual lie: ‘All mobile phones must be switched off during the flight because they might interfere with the on-board systems.’ We all believe this and do as the flight attendants ask.

Igor knew when this myth had been created: for years now, airlines had been doing their best to convince passengers to use the phones attached to their seat. These cost ten dollars a minute and use the same transmission system as mobile phones. The strategy didn’t work, but the myth lingered on; they had simply forgotten to remove the warning from the list of dos and don’ts that the flight attendant has to read out before take-off. What no one knew was that on every flight, there were always at least two or three passengers who forgot to turn their phones off, and besides, laptops access the Internet using exactly the same system as mobiles. And no plane anywhere in the world has yet fallen out of the sky because of that.

Now they were trying to modify the warning without alarming the passengers too much and without dropping the price. You could use your mobile phone as long as it was one you could put into flight mode. Such phones cost four times as much. No one has ever explained what ‘flight mode’ is, but if people choose to be taken in like this, that’s their problem.

He keeps walking. He’s troubled by the last look the girl had given him before she died, but prefers not to think about it.

More bodyguards, more dark glasses, more bikinis on the beach, more light-coloured clothes and jewellery attending ‘lunches’, more people hurrying along as if they had something very important to do that morning, more photographers on every corner attempting the impossible task of snapping something unusual, more magazines and free newspapers about what’s happening at the Festival, more people handing out flyers to the poor mortals who haven’t been invited to lunch in one of the white marquees, flyers advertising restaurants on the top of the hill, far from everything, where little is heard of what goes on in Boulevard de la Croisette, up there where models rent apartments for the duration of the Festival, hoping they’ll be summoned to an audition that will change their lives for ever.

All so unsurprising. All so predictable. If he were to go into one of those marquees now, no one would dare ask for his identification because it’s still early and the promoters will be afraid that no one will come. In half an hour’s time, though, depending on how things go, the security guards will be given express orders to let in only pretty, unaccompanied girls.

Why not try it out?

He follows his impulse; after all, he’s on a mission. He goes down some steps, which lead not to the beach, but to a large white marquee with plastic windows, air-conditioning and white chairs and tables, largely empty. One of the security guards asks if he has an invitation, and he says that he does. He pretends to search his pockets. A receptionist dressed in red asks if she can help.

He offers her his business card, bearing the logo of his phone company and his name, Igor Vassilovich, President. He’s sure his name is on the list, he says, but he must have left his invitation at the hotel; he’s been at a series of meetings and forgot to bring it with him. The receptionist welcomes him and invites him in; she has learned to judge men and women by the way they dress, and ‘President’ means the same thing worldwide. Besides, he’s the President of a Russian company! And everyone knows how rich Russians like to show off their wealth. There was no need to check the list.

Igor enters, heads straight for the bar - it’s a very well equipped marquee; there’s even a dance floor – and orders a pineapple juice because it suits the atmosphere and, more importantly, because the drink, decorated with a tiny, blue Japanese umbrella, comes complete with a black straw.

He sits down at one of the many empty tables. Among the few people present is a man in his fifties, with hennaed mahogany brown hair, fake tan and a body honed in one of those gyms that promise eternal youth. He’s wearing a torn T-shirt and is sitting with two other men, who are both dressed in impeccable designer suits. The two men turn to face Igor, and he immediately turns his head slightly, but continues to study them from behind his dark glasses. The men in suits try to work out who this new arrival is, then lose interest.

Igor’s interest, however, increases.

The man does not even have a mobile phone on the table, although his two assistants are constantly fielding calls.

Given that this badly dressed, arrogant fellow has been let into the marquee; given that he has his mobile phone turned off; given that the waiter keeps coming up to him and asking if he wants anything; given that he doesn’t even deign to respond, but merely waves him away, he is obviously someone very important.

Igor takes a fifty-euro note out of his pocket and gives it to the waiter who has just started laying the table.

‘Who’s the gentleman in the faded blue T-shirt?’ he asks, glancing in the direction of the other table.

‘Javits Wild. He’s a very important man.’

Excellent. After someone as insignificant as the girl at the beach, a figure like Javits Wild would be ideal - not famous, but important. One of the people who decides who should be in the spotlight and who feels no need to take much care over his own appearance because he knows exactly who he is. He’s in charge of pulling the strings, and the puppets feel themselves to be the most privileged and envied people on the planet, until one day, for whatever reason, the puppeteer decides to cut the strings, and the puppets fall down, lifeless and powerless.

He’s clearly a member of the Superclass, which means that he has false friends and many enemies.

‘One other question. Would it be acceptable to destroy a universe in the name of a greater love?’

The waiter laughs.

‘Are you God or just gay?’

‘Neither, but thank you for your answer.’ is owned and maintained by Sanjaal Corps, Nepal. The company offers Webhosting and Domain Registration Services, IT Solutions and Business Analysis. website features H1B Visa Information, Entertainment Portal, Link Directory Service, Free Articles, Free Open Source Tutorials on Java and J2EE Platform, Digital Photography, High Resolution Picture Gallery and Free Reliable Image Hosting Services. Future plan includes Open Source Software Development Portal, Technical Solutions and Customizable Movie and Music Arena. We would be introducing data backup, data recovery, data hosting and voip solutions. Stay free from phishing - our website does not ask for your credit card and banking information. Happy Surfing!
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Re: Paulo Coelho - The Winner Stands Alone

Postby rumblefish » Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:44 pm

The Winner Stands Alone : Chapter XI by Paulo Coelho

He realises he should not have asked that question. Firstly, because he doesn’t need anyone’s support to justify what he’s doing; he’s convinced that since everyone will die one day, some must do so in the name of something greater. That’s how it’s been since the beginning of time, when men sacrificed themselves in order to feed their tribe, when virgins were handed over to the priests to placate the wrath of dragons and gods. The second reason is because he has now drawn attention to himself and indicated an interest in the man on the next table.

The waiter’s sure to forget, but there’s no need to take unnecessary risks. He tells himself that at a Festival such as this, it’s only normal that people should want to know about other people, and even more normal that such information should be rewarded. He himself has done the same thing hundreds of times in restaurants all over the world, and others had doubtless done the same with him. Waiters aren’t just accustomed to being given money to supply a name or a better table or to send a discreet message, they almost expect it.

No, the waiter wouldn’t remember anything. Igor knows that his next victim is there before him. If he succeeds, and if the waiter is questioned, he’ll say that the only odd thing to happen that day was a man asking him if he thought it was acceptable to destroy a universe in the name of a greater love. He might not even remember that much. The police will ask: ‘What did he look like?’ and the waiter will reply: ‘I didn’t pay much attention, to be honest, but I know he said he wasn’t gay.’ The police - accustomed to the kind of French intellectual who sits in bars and comes up with weird theories and complicated analyses of, for example, the sociology of film festivals - would quietly let the matter drop.

Something else was bothering Igor though.

The name or names.

He had killed before - with weapons and the blessing of his country. He didn’t know how many people he had killed, but he had rarely seen their faces and certainly never asked their names. Knowing someone’s name meant knowing that the other person was a human being and not ‘the enemy’. Knowing someone’s name transformed them into a unique and special individual, with a past and a future, with ancestors and possibly descendants, a person who has known triumphs and failures. People are their names; they’re proud of them; they repeat them thousands of times in their lifetime and identify with them. It’s the first word they learn after ‘Daddy’ and ‘Mummy’.

Olivia. Javits. Igor. Ewa.

Someone’s spirit, however, has no name, it is pure truth and inhabits a particular body for a certain period of time, and will, one day, leave it, and God won’t bother asking ‘What’s your name?’ when the soul arrives at the final judgement. God will ask only: ‘Did you love while you were alive?’ For that is the essence of life: the ability to love, not the name we carry around on our passport, business card and identity card. The great mystics changed their names, and sometimes abandoned them altogether. When John the Baptist was asked who he was, he said only: ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.’ When Jesus found the man on whom he would build his church, he ignored the fact that the man in question had spent his entire life answering to the name of Simon and called him Peter. When Moses asked God his name, back came the reply: ‘I am who I am.’

Perhaps he should look for another victim, one named victim was enough: Olivia. At this precise moment, however, he feels that he cannot turn back, but he decides that he will not ask the name of the next world he destroys. He can’t turn back because he wants to do justice to the poor, vulnerable girl on the bench by the beach - such a sweet, easy victim. This new challenge – this sweaty, pseudo-athletic, henna-haired man with the bored expression and who is clearly someone very powerful – is much more difficult. The two men in suits are not just assistants; he notices that every now and then, they look around the tent, watching everything that’s going on nearby. If he is to be worthy of Ewa and fair to Olivia, he must be brave.

He leaves the straw in the pineapple juice. People are beginning to arrive. He has to wait for the place to fill up, but not too long. He hadn’t planned to destroy a world in broad daylight, in the middle of the Boulevard in Cannes, and he doesn’t know exactly how to carry out this next project. Something tells him, though, that he has chosen the perfect place.

His thoughts are no longer with the poor young woman at the beach; adrenaline is filling his blood, his heart is beating faster, he’s excited and happy.

Javits Wild wouldn’t be wasting his time here just to get a free meal at one of the thousands of parties to which he must be invited every year. He must be here for some specific reason or to meet a particular person. That reason or person would doubtless be Igor’s best alibi.

12.26 p.m.

Javits watches the other guests arriving. The place is getting crowded, and he thinks what he always thinks:

‘What am I doing here? I don’t need this. In fact, I need very little from anyone - I have all I want. I’m a big name in the movie world, I can have any woman I desire, even though I dress badly. In fact, I make a point of being badly dressed. Long gone are the days when I had only one suit, and, on the rare occasions when I received an invitation from the Superclass (after much crawling, begging and making promises), I would prepare myself for a lunch like this as if it were the most important occasion of my life. Now I know that the only thing that changes are the cities these lunches are held in; otherwise, it’s all utterly boring and predictable.

‘People will come up to me and tell me they adore my work. Others will call me a hero and thank me for giving movie mavericks a chance. Pretty, intelligent women, who are not taken in by appearances, will notice the people gathering round my table and ask the waiter who I am and immediately find some way of approaching me, certain that the only thing I’m interested in is sex. Every single one of them has some favour to ask of me. That’s why they praise and flatter me and offer me what they think I need. But all I want is to be left alone.

‘I’ve been to thousands of parties like this, and I’m not here in this marquee for any particular reason, except that I can’t sleep, even though I flew to France in my private jet, a technological marvel capable of flying at an altitude of over 36,000 feet from California all the way to Cannes without having to make a refuelling stop. I changed the original configuration of the cabin. It can comfortably carry eighteen passengers, but I reduced the number of seats to six and kept the cabin separate for the four crew members. Someone’s always sure to ask: “May I come with you?” And now I have the perfect excuse: “Sorry, there’s no room.”’

Javits had equipped his new toy, which cost around 40 million dollars, with two beds, a conference table, a shower, a Miranda sound system (Bang & Olufsen had an excellent design and a good PR campaign, but they were now a thing of the past), two coffee machines, a microwave oven for the crew and an electric oven for him (because he’s hates re-heated food). Javits only drinks champagne, and whoever wishes to was more than welcome to share a bottle of Moët & Chandon 1961 with him. However, the ‘cellar’ on the plane had every drink any guest might conceivably want. And then there were the two 21-inch LCD screens ready to show the most recent films, even those that hadn’t yet made it into the cinemas.

The jet was one of the most advanced in the world (although the French insisted that the Dassault Falcon was even better), but regardless of how much money he had, he couldn’t change the clocks in Europe. It was now 3:43 a.m. in Los Angeles, and he was just beginning to feel really tired. He had been awake all night, going from one party to the next, answering the same two idiotic questions that began every conversation:

‘How was your flight?’

To which Javits always responded with a question:


People didn’t know quite what to say and so they smiled awkwardly and moved on to the next question on the list:

‘Are you staying here long?’

And Javits would again ask: ‘Why?’ Then he would pretend he had to answer his mobile phone, make his excuses and move on with his two inseparable besuited friends in tow.

He met no one interesting. But then who would a man who has almost everything money can buy find interesting? He had tried to change his friends and meet people who had nothing to do with the world of cinema: philosophers, writers, jugglers, executives of food-manufacturing companies. At first, it all went swimmingly, until the inevitable question: ‘Would you like to read a script I’ve written?’ Or the second most inevitable question: ‘I have a friend who has always wanted to be an actor/actress. Would you mind meeting him/her?’

Yes, he would. He had other things to do in life apart from work. He used to fly once a month to Alaska, go into the first bar, get drunk, eat pizza, wander about in the wild, and talk to the people who lived in the small towns up there. He worked out for two hours a day at his private gym, but the doctors had warned him he could still end up with heart problems. He didn’t care that much about being physically fit, what he really wanted was to off-load a little of the constant tension that seemed to weigh on him every second of the day, to do some meditation and heal the wounds to his soul. When he was in the country, he always asked the people he chanced to meet what ‘normal life’ was like, because he had forgotten. The answers varied, and he gradually came to realise that, even when he was surrounded by other people, he was absolutely alone in the world. is owned and maintained by Sanjaal Corps, Nepal. The company offers Webhosting and Domain Registration Services, IT Solutions and Business Analysis. website features H1B Visa Information, Entertainment Portal, Link Directory Service, Free Articles, Free Open Source Tutorials on Java and J2EE Platform, Digital Photography, High Resolution Picture Gallery and Free Reliable Image Hosting Services. Future plan includes Open Source Software Development Portal, Technical Solutions and Customizable Movie and Music Arena. We would be introducing data backup, data recovery, data hosting and voip solutions. Stay free from phishing - our website does not ask for your credit card and banking information. Happy Surfing!
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