Our conceited mother was being courted by the poor rich fellow, too vociferous in his nervousness, overeager to make a good impression and yet so sloppy in the kitchen, trying to charm the still fetching lady with his culinary savvy.
Me and my kid brother quitted the scene, jeering and scoffing at the ripened romeo, though as quietly as we could, lest we should wound the indeed promising prospect to a most unwelcome early demise - for we all stood to benefit somewhat if the whimsy finessed itself to a chapel where the daunting wedding bells again rang.
Not far from our house above the hill a scree runs down in fearful steepness. It’s a scree nonetheless grown with sturdy weeds and ivies. Our coarsened bottoms no longer grow gory apostumes when, instead of running as perpendicular to the incline as we are able to maintain ourselves, we toboggan on our sparkling derrieres. Midways today, feeling my oats, I decide to climb back to the summit. It’s an exploit not easily accomplished. Eclectic in my choice of natural handles to clutch onto - ivies, bushes, rocks… - I’m almost at the end of my labors, when I notice that the workers from the nearby factory are returning home from work; they are mostly in a good mood because the evening, bathed in rosy light and thin air, is uplifting enough. No rowdy quarrels today, damned sociopathic offenders, splitting their crania before splitting in sullen, sorrowful little groups of sworn enemies… as I’ve seen often enough, a perplexed, frozen gawper from my basement window.
To my dismay I see that one of the younger fellows is coming up to the brink to which I’m shortly due, tending me, almost alluringly, nicely offering his strong hand for me to get a grip on and in order to assist my taxing ascension. Despite the hideous renown that they “enjoy” in our household, I see that the man is good-looking and apparently has an affable disposition. And yet I abhor the prospect of his touch - besides the fact that he is spoiling my exploit, he is endangering his life - and what is worst mine, if..., should I ever accept his proffered hand, if and when he tumbles down the precipice, and I’m stuck to him like to the tempting bloody devil that he is.
Luckily, a ghastly mask of deadly fear falls square on his face. An extremely poisonous snake has struck at his hand. I see a gargoyle dying in atrocious pains. His being is rotting like a frayed stone at the core of a fruit blighted by the putrid teeth of a dinosaur. I don’t know what I think; I only know that I’m terrified. And my ass is sliding down at a frightening speed. Damn the thorns and the jagged teeth of the hungry half-exhumed mammoth flints. I’m gone in a jiffy from that purple-skied picture of sudden death.
We were visiting with people of good repute indeed. The well-to-do mature hosts are attending to our needs, and their congenial and gracious nature is becoming a bit cloying. We are in fine, genteel company. I’ve a book in my hands - the last one written by our mutual friend Joe. Now I understand the cover - “You see,” I told my wife, “it’s an extract from that drawing that appeared in that magazine where Joe was seating on an armchair trying to finish a puzzle, and the wind of age had routed out most of the pieces of the puzzle, down and away to infinitude… Those red stains fleeing sideways on the white underground of the book’s cover are some of these pieces of cardboard flown suddenly away…” An allegory of aging, where the futility of trying to hold on to what the accelerating storm of the years relentlessly robs away is subtly stressed.
Seating a bit left out from the inner circle of decorous friends, I realized, somewhat awed, that (Joe’s age and mine being roughly the same) the hasty fanciful fleeing of the slices of existence applied as well to me as to him - we were both of us already dry leaves falling, or about to. I refused a drink, “I had already had my drink,” I said, and it was true. I didn’t either put my two cents in as to the question that was this autumn being too chilly or else too humid and hot still, for the truth was that this autumn, and today more in particular, I was feeling neither hot nor cold. Indifferent to the conversation too, indifferent to the pictures on the walls, the books on the coffee table; no curiosity furthermore to open Joe’s book, to get farther than the cover.
Then we heard coming in from the balcony the noises of the Fallen Leaves autumn procession - we went down and stood seeing the procession go by. Some volunteer women were distributing plastified dry tree leaves in exchange for a little tithe (for a good cause, no doubt) - I put my coins on the satchel, but the woman excused herself, she had scoured her bag, but there were no more dry leaves to dole out. Leafless and coinless, I had to shrug the mischance off, as the autumn procession crossed through.
Went to bed early, too tired. A sharp pain on the neck woke me up, a bone had broken and was propping out from the inside. I got up and, with much effort, managed to move the bed a little bit: underneath and on the side to the wall, big fat scolopendrae, with their many legs, were entangled among the rolled dusty balls of filthy lint - eager maggots, they looked like, as if waiting for my corpse.
For Every Tib and Tom Cat
Cat Alone - 3 -
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