Contemporary Comedy (Part III)

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Part III

When Fausto returned to the medical center for routine checkups, the chief physician, seeing him sitting in the antechamber of his office, shook his head and greeted him, asking, “You know, Mr. Marinelli, what is my worst worry?

“Yes, yes … of course,” replied Fausto, unnerved by that approach repeated without any scruples, “He has already asked me … Impotence in the face of his object of study.”

Oh no!” exclaimed the doctor. “My real drama is not being able to complete the crossword puzzle anymore! Do you know how many terms have been brought up in recent years? I wonder if it is worth studying since everything is bound to plunge into obsolescence sooner or later… But rather tell me, how do you feel?

I lose weight and feel more and more tired. Can’t you prescribe me a tonic to withstand fatigue better?

The chief physician suddenly seemed to come to his senses: “Your analysis speaks very clearly… I can prescribe you a tonic, sure. You could even take amphetamines, but that would not solve anything… I have already told you, and I regret having even to remind you, that your symptoms will unfortunately continue to get worse. Are you married, Mr. Marinelli?

I live.

And how does your partner feel about your decision?

Fausto hesitated but eventually realized there was no point in lying, “She doesn’t know anything.”

Man in jeans sitting alone on a low wall

Nothing?” asked the doctor in amazement. “Are you trying to hide such evidence? But how can she not notice? He has lost at least ten pounds since I last visited him!

I told her that I had been diagnosed with severe gastritis so that I could justify my diet.”

Gastritis…” repeated the doctor, chasing away that whimsical idea with a wave of his hand.

Yes… She believed it. He advised me to join a gym. He thinks a little sport can do me good.“.

Oh my God! But this is absurd! Even a billboard would notice that you are sick. Very bad!

Fausto nodded. The doctor laid a hand on his shoulder and invited him to the office to complete the examination. He adjusted the dosages and prescribed a stimulant to reduce exhaustion. In the end, just before dismissing him, she fixed him with a serious look, far too severe for that bizarre man, and, in a fatherly tone, told him, “I only wish you well, Mr. Marinelli. Whatever it is…

Irene was very different from her cousin: with black hair and very fair skin, thin and always smiling, she seemed to embody the polarity precluded to Cora entirely. She gladly accepted Fausto’s invitation, even though the two had never met before, and showed up on time for her appointment before the entrance to a famous café near the Pantheon.

I was sure Cora wouldn’t come,” she exclaimed as Fausto shook her hand, “She hates me…and maybe she even has the reasons.”

If you think this, you could call or write to her. I see nothing irreparable in your relationship. Anyway, nice to meet you; I am your cousin’s partner“.

My pleasure, Fausto. But tell me, if I’m not being too prying, which is untrue — have you been kicked out of bed? You don’t look rested-you look shabby“.

The man winced. So, it was possible to notice his state of health, just as the doctor had repeated to him. Was Cora, therefore, pretending with her detached attitude? Did he know more than he was letting on, and was he trying to disguise his concern? Or, who knows how, was he not paying attention to it?

I can say without a doubt that this is not exactly the best time of my life,” he replied, faking a smile.

I can see it,” she murmured. “But come on, let’s go inside. It’s dying from the heat here“.

They sat at a secluded table, ordered two aperitifs, and began mutually studying each other. Cora had not told him that Irene had a magnetic gaze. Was she envious of it? Or maybe she didn’t even notice that? The girl in front of him was far from insignificant and, indeed, observed in her movements and facial expressions, revealed herself to be far more fascinating than was possible to imagine from Cora’s sad descriptions.

Your aunt told us about you,” Fausto began, trying to get to the heart of the matter, “About your background and why you came back to Italy.”

Yeah, my background is a favorite topic of my cousin. What did he tell you? That I stole jewelry from her to escape to London?

In a way…”

Sort of my ass!” she exclaimed, clenching her fists. “Didn’t she tell you that two of those necklaces were meant for me and that she only got them because I refused to attend a family reunion?

Fausto spread his arms wide: “Actually not — but I don’t think it matters. I am interested in…

He sure does!” blurted out Irene. “I am not a thief! Perhaps a fool, but I never stole anything and, on the contrary, defended those who were robbed daily without any possibility of redemption!

I was saying…” resumed Fausto patiently, “That I don’t care what you did when you lived together with Cora. I’m just here to try to figure out how I can — indeed we can — help you. All here“.

It was our aunt who came up with this. I do not need any help. I’m working as a servicewoman — that’s enough for now. Look, but are you sure you’re okay? You look so pale to me….

Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. But why did your aunt ask Cora to do something for you?

Because she is an old bitch!” he exclaimed with all the sarcasm he was capable of, “And because she will be invaded by guilt…”

Irene’s parents had died in a car accident when she was 16 years old. It was a hard blow, but the girl managed to fight back and, with the help of her grandparents, went on until she came of age. After finishing high school, she had grown closer to Cora, who, until then, had been only a distant cousin, one of those people you meet at weddings and funerals.

From the beginning, relations had been good, and it seemed that the two young women could help each other in that critical period of their lives. Still, soon Cora, who boasted a very different social background, began to exclude Irene from her activities, leaving the latter, not at all frightened, to find her way into political engagement. The only aunt in common with them, a wife without children, was Catherine herself, who, without expending any attempt at denial, definitely preferred Cora to her “wild cousin.”

She missed no opportunity to point out the good sense of one over the triviality of the other. Although always calm, Catherine kept telling Irene that she had been fortunate to meet Cora and should not waste that opportunity. He would have been able to learn everything that had been neglected or considered entirely useless up to that point, and most importantly, he would have had the opportunity to exercise his humility by accepting all of his cousin’s reminders without protest.

Even taking away her intended gift to give it to Cora had to be seen as a gesture of great humanity so that she, even if late, could understand the difference between what was right and what was “hers.” His own, not wrong, because it was not worthwhile for Irene to attempt any sorting. He had to vomit out all his past and suck on the ruby nipple of his new spiritual mother.

I don’t condemn your ideas,” Fausto said, “I think they are right, and committing to them is more than a noble gesture.

You know what?” replied the woman, her eyes wide. “That this is all nonsense! As a child, I went to bed to have good dreams. Then I realized that you had to be awake and go among the people to dream. Now, I am convinced that the only way to live and not die of sleep is to be alone….

Yes, I know, it sounds crazy, but it is. People are so used to selfishness that they are taken for fools when someone tries to do something for them. That’s what happened to me in London. I guess they told you I was arrested for theft, didn’t they?

More or less…”

You said well- more or less because they didn’t even know my real charge! I’m talking about the British, of course. However, just so you know, the reality is very different, so absurd that even the police didn’t know how to handle it–I left, I wasn’t kicked out! But are you tired? Am I boring you?

Once again, Fausto felt uncomfortable. The woman’s naturalness was disarming: she had the impression that she was a naked child in the source of a doctor, preoccupied with poorly concealing modesty with all her might.

You’re welcome,” he exclaimed, engaging in an awkward pretense, “I’m glad to hear from you. I’m here for that.”

Well, I tried to defend an idiot from Zambia, Nigeria, or some recondited African country. He worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant; I knew him well because I had been there myself. It is a very ordinary place full of needy people serving food to digestive machines that cannot distinguish between a real egg and a piece of plastic. I don’t even remember this guy’s name. One day, out of the blue, he was accused of stealing money from the cash register.

A ludicrous accusation, considering that the kitchen staff entered through the back and were confined there the whole time, but the mistress, a strange, bigoted philanthropist, did not want to know reasons–she had embezzled money. She had to give it back or leave. The boy denied everything but eventually, worried about losing his residence permit, gave the lady the money she requested.

When I heard that, I was blind to it! I went to see him and told him that the unions would crucify that bitch… All it took was a little courage. He told me that I was right, and I mounted an unparalleled mess. Unfortunately, however, when it came time to start the litigation, the union official told me it was all canceled because the boy had withdrawn all charges.

I understood that the mistress had convinced him, and a colleague of his, a guy with whom I had also slept, confirmed that not only had he been dissuaded, but the owner had also returned the money to him with interest. I sought him out, but he was denied. I waited for him, and the black man came out after two hours in the back of the restaurant. You won’t be able to believe it as soon as he saw me, he ran like crazy! As if I were chasing him!

What an idiot–but then again, what can you expect from someone who was raised to be a slave? I was ashamed of myself and went home. The next day, the police came looking for me. The restaurant owner, perhaps seeing me the day before, had accused me of orchestrating that mess to mislead her…I burst out laughing in front of the cops, and…you already know the rest. But look, I can’t persuade myself, you, okay? It doesn’t look like that to me…

What a ridiculous story!” exclaimed Fausto, pretending not to have heard the last question, “But why did you leave if you weren’t taking any risks?

I got tired of it. All here“.

You got tired … Sure. But what do you do for a living beyond precarious jobs now?

Alive…”

I do not doubt that, but do you have a perspective?

Irene smiled: “If the question is aimed at whether I need Cora, the answer is no. If, on the other hand, it is pure curiosity, I can tell you that I earn what little I need to get by“.

Fausto no longer understood which of the two was the more resigned person, although he had a good reason, while she seemed utterly indifferent to any possibility.

Would you like to have something to eat?” he asked her out of the blue.

I have to take the bus back to the village,” Irene replied, lowering her head slightly.

Fausto initially nodded but then suddenly replied, “To hell with the bus. Let’s go out to eat something. I’ll take you back“.

You? But don’t you have to go back to Cora?

“I don‘t have to go back to anyone,” the man said, “Besides, believe me, I don’t have the luxury of wasting my time anymore.”

Alright,” replied Irene, winking, “I am in your hands — but promise to take me back. I would not like to be alone and homeless….

They both laughed like old friends and left the bar. The evening had now fallen, and the outlines of the more distant buildings seemed to be lost in an invisible mist. A warm breeze swirled around the trees, and people stopped to chat while the soft glow of the signs finally obtained the scene after a day of unconditional submission.

They dined at a Mexican restaurant near “Campo de’ Fiori”. It was Irene’s idea: she said she had a craving for Guacamole and that the ingredients were unavailable in the village. Fausto accepted without reservation, but shortly after crossing the venue’s threshold, he realized he was taking a considerable risk. The excess chili that, months earlier, he would have enjoyed could now be intolerable. He immediately went to the bathroom and swallowed twice the intended dose of medication.

However, the fears proved unfounded. His stomach continued to ache, but he did not vomit, and Irene, the only reason he now cared most, did not notice(or pretended to) his discomfort.

Cora did not call him. Perhaps she realized that she was as inappropriate as ever, or, much more likely, she thought of a much fiercer revenge. Fausto, for his part, did not worry and, seeing neither calls nor messages, understood that this was a clear sign of a necessity that had now ousted possibility.

Facing him, smiling and not at all melancholy, Irene made the same remarks. Why be afraid of not returning home in time? Why distress over the compromised relationship with the cousin? Why bother with the aunt who had always kept her in the background? Because… Only silence granted the most convincing answers, and the young woman, closing her brown eyes, could hear the beautiful reasons without effort.

It was enough to think and then reverse every idea: duty was succeeded by pleasure, repetition by novelty, ineptitude by perfection of purpose and ability. It was marvelous as if a hidden world had been revealed by mistake, and it was useless for the clumsy attempts of the mastery to cover up what was now obvious even in the darkness of a catacomb.

I’m dying,” Fausto said without realizing he had uncovered all his cards.

Yes, I understood that,” replied the woman, “But I didn’t know how to act…”

Cora doesn’t know anything, and I don’t want to tell her.”

Oh…” exclaimed Irene, surprised. “With me, you can rest assured! Although I am sorry for what is happening to you“.

Yes, I’m a little bit sorry too… Not all the time, but every once in a while, I get to thinking stupidly about all the things I could have done, and I get melancholy.”

I see… But didn’t the doctors give you hope?

Nefarious diagnosis,” Fausto sentenced, wrinkling his forehead. “My departure is scheduled in six months to a year. Said like that, it may really sound sad, but you too will die in twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years–only you don’t know it, and so you have every right to consider yourself immortal….”

The woman nodded silently. How might we deny those apparent truths? Of course, there had to be some difference between those who die young and those who reach old age, but perhaps only at the point of death would such a secret be revealed, which meant that it was just a conjurer’s trick, a useless illusion because it was destined to remain so by its very nature.

Shall we take a walk?” asked Irene to him, “In this weather, it is nice to walk at night.”

Of course,” replied Fausto, “But not here. We go toward the village. I know a small forest where couples seclude themselves. Ah… Don’t get me wrong… I prefer to be in a place away from lights and noise. I’m not going to try impudently, not…

Calm down!” the woman interrupted him, smiling. “I didn’t say anything! For me, the grove is just fine“.

The two walked out of the restaurant and into the countryside. The evening had now gone tonight, and Cora had not bothered to call Fausto.

He turned off the phone, put it back in the car’s glove compartment, and drove off. Beside him, Irene leaned her head against the glass and closed her eyes. Now and then, he sighed, hissing like the last breath of wind slipping under a door. Stopping at a traffic light, Fausto observed her: it was pleasant to sit next to her, even if, until that moment, her identity had been concealed by a heap of nonsense.

When broke, he restarted. He felt elated and relieved: having told her about his illness had relieved him of a burden, and knowing that Irene had no reluctance to walk with him in the woods at night had restored his lost confidence.

Just before leaving the car, the woman, who probably had not slept, turned to Fausto and asked him, “Have you ever done anything forbidden?

Forbidden by whom?

Ah yes, sorry,” Irene corrected herself, “I wasn’t referring to illegal acts… I meant something that someone else, your parents, teachers, or whoever prevented you from doing.”

Maybe, but I honestly have no idea… I would have to think about it for a while.

It doesn’t matter. I was asking because I think I have lost this opportunity. You know, before my parents died, it was impossible to disobey seriously. At most, I could do some nonsense that remained hidden, but otherwise, I couldn’t do it… Then, after they disappeared, I lost the only legislators I constantly feared in my life, and so, as you can imagine, there is now no one categorical who can dictate my rules. No one…

It has a strange effect to think of you as an inhibited girl,” Fausto replied, “But maybe, when you think about it, it’s not so absurd…”

Because of my extravagances?” asked Irene winkingly, “That is, because of the stories propounded without restraint by Cora and my aunt?

I don’t care about other people’s opinions. You are an uninhibited woman, which might also suggest that in the past you were — but that’s just a personal consideration. I’m not a psychologist, and I don’t feel like saying things that then I wouldn’t be able to justify“.

Who knows, maybe you’re right, but if I’m honest, I don’t feel inhibited or even uninhibited. Now and then, I look around and wonder if the eyes of passersby are on me, if they expect something, if they might be disappointed or fulfilled. Still, eventually, they all go away, and I find myself looking at other faces without an answer….”

In front of the entrance to the grove was a clearing bordered by a fence: couples probably apparated by staying in their cars or sitting behind a rock. That night, however, there was no one there. Fausto left the car beside a rough wooden bench and helped Irene down. That gesture was completely unnecessary, he knew well, but the temptation was more substantial than he was, and the woman seemed to appreciate it.

There is a path that walks sideways and ends right in front of an old natural water source,” Fausto said.

Good!” the woman replied, taking him by the arm, “Let’s go…”

Why did you ask me if I had transgressed a few times during my life?

Dark forest, a symbol of existential loneliness

Irene stood thinking momentarily as if she did not consider that question important: “When I set foot in Italy again, several episodes from my childhood came back to me. Nothing important, I wasn’t raped or beaten, but strangely I still remember them… In London, I wanted to start psychoanalysis. I had organized with work shifts, but then, you know how it was in the end…”

You can always do it here if you find it useful…”

Yes, yes, undoubtedly. However, I think a little differently now. Maybe some things must remain submerged to keep feeding the flame that animates us, don’t you think?

Fausto remained silent: that sentence reminded him of his decision to hide the truth from Cora. What was the real reason for that choice? Fear? Revenge? Disinterest?

The possibilities were many, but none could stand out over the others. They were all excuses that took the stage, satisfied the need for surprise, and then went backstage. The prima donna was absent, or perhaps that was its essence: to remain perpetually in the shadows, like a deus ex machina who, once revealed, appears as a bent, staggering old man operating rusty levers.

Without realizing it, the girl had wittily countered what Fausto had told her about lifespan: he certainly could not complete any psychoanalysis worthy of the name, and therefore, knowing that his hours were numbered was tantamount to making the causes of many behaviors eternally unknown.

Of course, in death, those behaviors would not have done much good, but an instant before he closed his eyes for good, the balance of his life would show the rawness of an inexcusable lack. If there ever were a universal judgment, he would certainly be sent back to retrieve the broken pieces of his existence.

Come on, don’t be so pensive!” exclaimed Irene. “There is already enough silence all around…

You are right. Why don’t you tell me some episodes from your childhood?

They are not that interesting,” she murmured.

When you told me that by losing your parents, you lost any real possibility of transgression, you made me think. It’s a bizarre thing, but it exudes truth“.

Yeah,” replied Irene, “I realized it the day they died. A surreal, grotesque experience — I don’t know what adjective best qualifies that moment. It happened when I was 16 years old, my parents had gone out of town in the car, it was raining, and the road was full of mud…

Airbags were not standard in those days, and in a very tight curve, the car skidded and crashed into a low wall. A stupid accident that left no way out. In the early afternoon, after being warned of the disaster, they asked me if I would like to see their bodies… My aunt was also there, the Catherine you met and… can you imagine the situation? No one told me that maybe it was better to wait for the morticians to rearrange the bodies!

Not that I intended to be intimidated, but in certain situations, you expect relatives to try to save you from additional burdens. But no! A nurse led me to a small room in the pathological anatomy department and left me in front of two bodies on which an autopsy had just been completed. I still don’t understand why they did it. That was probably the procedure, but what did they expect to find? Traces of drugs? Alcohol? Drugs? Who knows.

Of course, knowing those subjects better, no one would have any doubt about their unimpeachable conduct. My mother was a kind of bigot convinced that sins dwelt only inside the confessional, and my father, who was not bad after all, had bequeathed me all sorts of fears. A fly was certainly less fearful than he was! In short, as soon as I approached, I saw their swollen faces and could hardly recognize them: they had wounds on their heads, and blood had clotted everywhere.

I almost felt like throwing up, but I managed to restrain myself. I didn’t cry, no. I was upset, but no emotion beyond mute dismay could enter my mind. Just below the neck, autopsy cuts were visible. I still remember them: significant, poorly sewn with brown thread, they were the creepiest thing about the whole thing. That was when I realized that all fear had been delegitimized there.

Buried under those cuts were the fears, the absurd injunctions, the meaningless demands–everything. Two funerals stood before me. The first is strictly private. The second was just a chance to see people whose existence I had almost forgotten.“.

Bad story,” Fausto replied, “Beyond the trauma, which does not leave much chance for redemption–redemption vis-à-vis life, of course.”

Irene laughed, “It’s not because of what you said,” she hastened to clarify. “I was reminded of an incident that happened to me in elementary school. It’s an insulting episode, don’t think who knows what — but it’s funny. So funny that one could laugh or cry without changing its emotional impact in the slightest….

I’ll try not to laugh, but if I have to choose, I’d rather not cry!” exclaimed Fausto, sketching a smile of complicity.

Your choice, monsieur!” sentenced Irene ironically. “I don’t like turns of phrase, but the more I think about it, the more I can’t figure out what the connection might be between this leaping memory and what we were talking about… Anyway, just now, without making any effort of memory, I thought back to a slight reprimand I received one day while I was with classmates. We had bought bulk candy and chewing gum at a small store near the school and were about to start eating them when some of our parents joined us. Among them were my parents, who, seeing the sweets in my hands, intimated that I should throw them away immediately because they were undoubtedly dirty and harmful to my health. I protested, but their opinion was irrevocable:

I was forced to get rid of my little treasure and watch the companions eat peacefully. At one point, someone approached me and asked if I had finished everything yet. You can imagine the shame I felt amid those two fires-my parents on one side and carefree peers on the other! Therefore, to avoid what would have been discovered all too easily, I came up with a masterpiece of loser cunning: I began to say that those candies had been kept in the store without any protection and had been taken by the sales clerk directly with my hands. Who knows how many microbes there must have been? Eating them was foolish.

Can you believe it? I said all these things while my companions, with their mouths always full, kept staring at me without understanding the point of that rant… I can’t hold back the laughter every time I think back on it! And, of course, I can boast that I never had cavities until a couple of years ago. Admirable accomplishment, right?”

Fausto listened to that tale, letting every single word pass through him: the simplicity of the narration, combined with Irene’s informal attitude, had transfused into the sense of every detail placing every emotion beyond the curtain, in an aseptic place, where the audience’s greedy hands could not reach until after they had fully immersed themselves in that sublime mud.

A common story, unfortunately,” he said without feigning any hypocrisy, “Although I must admit that one could ponder it for a long time… The trouble is that such lucubrations are not made until much later when the polluted waters have plagued every piece of land by then.”

Yeah…” replied Irene, lowering her head as if to count her steps. “You are right. I am now contaminated to the core. Down to the dregs of the marrow…

It was late at night when they reached the clearing at the back of the grove. They had met no one, and the only noise to be heard was the subdued pattering of their footsteps.

It was an instant, but isn’t it enough to give birth to a new life? Fausto realized this, and so did Irene. On opposite sides of a vast rusty merry-go-round, both watched each other, already knowing everything that would happen.

It was not love, nor was it hate. It was not passion or simple attraction. It was more than that: the somber buzzing of the funeral procession of law too weak, too human not to die before its subordinates, too divine not to be absurd at least once, so that the faithful, kneeling and contrite, could see its tattered flesh just when the pleas seemed to become most insistent.

Fausto approached Irene and wrapped his arm around her.

Same here,” she said, bringing her head closer to his chest, “Same here.”

Yes, here,” replied the man, “But I don’t want to have you like that. You have to fight, you have to scream, you have to deny me with all your might what you keep protecting“.

Irene remained motionless. His gaze betrayed surprise immediately subdued to certainty. He smiled and brought his lips closer to Fausto’s mouth.

Do you understand?” he shouted, tugging at her, “I told you to deny yourself!

She took a step back and burst out laughing: “Yes? And what would you like to do to me? Rape me? Make me suffer? You know it’s impossible!

He played that part well, and Fausto began to get excited. Would the law have stopped him? Or perhaps Cora herself would intervene to satiate his question? No one of that. In that grove, there was only he and the girl in front of him: a dying body and a young woman who could give respite to his heartbreak. He approached her and slapped her. Irene fell to the ground, but she did not stop laughing. Indeed, with her face stained with a trickle of blood, she looked even more mocking.

Fausto pounced on her, but the woman hit him on the belly with her knee. The cramp was excruciating, and he felt a muddy lump moving up his esophagus. He spat blood and wiped it off with his shirt sleeve.

I want you!” he shouted, “I desire you!

With an impulsive gesture, he tore off her skirt and pulled her toward him. Irene threw herself back, spreading her arms wide: above her were only stars. Below is the place that engulfs the dead to restore them to new life. She did not even see Fausto undress and throw himself on her. He understood this only in the instant that separates the usual from the sublime. She rebelled, screamed, hit the man on the face, and, after a few minutes, arching her back like a bamboo cane, reached orgasm with him.

Fausto let himself fall beside Irene and ran his hand through her hair. He felt fine; the excitement had been extinguished in a lightning-fast flicker, and the state of well-being had covered entirely the persistent pain in his stomach.

You ripped my skirt and creased my shirt,” the girl said, turning to him, “With these foibles of yours…”

It’s not a mania,” Fausto replied, “It’s the first time it’s happened to me.”

I can believe it! If you had slapped Cora, she would certainly have planted a pair of scissors in your belly!” Then, realizing he had made a blunder, he corrected himself, “Or in the heart…”

You’re welcome–in the belly is just fine. So it keeps that other little annoyance company. You know, I wouldn’t want him to get bored and decide to leave just as I start having fun“.

You’re crazy!” exclaimed Irene, “But not like those scatterbrains who first make trouble and then regret their actions… I like you because you’re a genuine nut!

Fausto laughed and stroked her face brightened by the little moonlight: “A genuine madman can only choose the most elegant madness! Right?

Who knows… But can you imagine my aunt’s face if she saw us right now?

I don’t know how she behaved with you, but honestly, during our brief meeting, she proved to be a very reasonable person.”

Irene huffed: “Perhaps it was. Now, to tell you the truth, she seems a little pathetic–the perfect person for Cora“.

When we visited her, Cora did not seem at all accepting of her,” Fausto objected.

She wants her own home, but she does not give up playing the part of the granddaughter with a head on her shoulders. Or maybe she changed her mind as well–in fact, she didn’t want to meet with me. Not even to give me one of his lectures. At other times, Catherine would have organized a reunion at her house, surprise, of course, and I would have found myself sitting in front of those women. Because that was generally how it worked, do you think? That we were like normal people? No–they would put a chair on one side of the table, and everyone else would sit before me!

They were giving you an exam,” Fausto murmured as he got to his feet.

Yes, just an exam… But tell me, what grade do you give me after this toil?

I’m keeping the reserve,” exclaimed the man, winking. “Now I’m sleepy. Are we going to a hotel?

But no, come to me. It’s not a great place, but at least you don’t pay for anything“.

The two returned to the car and drove toward the village. In the back seat, under a crumpled jacket, lay the phone lifeless. Fausto had utterly forgotten about it.


Filed for legal guardianship with Patamu: certificate


Part IPart II – Part III – Part IV


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