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I close the door with diligence, accompanying it very gently, very kindly indeed; and while it gets closed I stare fixedly through the narrowing slit that is reaching the stile: directly, with severe eyes, as if an invisible interlocutor would have been right outside there, exchanging glances with me; as if our mute discourse would have been one that had been going on for a very long, long time: as old friends or foes, that over time came to understand perfectly each other without any longer the avail of words.
It reminds me of Marlon Brando in Last tango In Paris when his wife had committed suicide and her mother was there to talk with him and wondering why her daughter killed herself; and Marlon Brando repeats yes why; and then suddenly he starts crashing stuff around in an outburst of rage, and he punches the door repeatedly, and once finished he gets out of the room accompanying the door very gently, very diligently - as I just did; and while calmly combing his hair with one hand, his other hand on the knob of the closing door, he utters: "you don't know why, do you? You don't know why people kill themselves. You don't know why".
And he closes the door.
Wow. What a piece!
A Sliding Door suddenly opens.
I am at the movies. Oh if I do like the movies. Who doesn't? Do you? Wanna come watch one with me? I can be quite a card; my word I can be!
It is 11pm and I am at the last show, and it is the twelfth time I go watch Last tango In Paris. The cinema is empty and I am the only attendant.
After about ten minutes I realize that at the end of the room, behind me, there is a woman. I see her leaning slobbish against the wall; she seems somewhat unkempt she holds a flashlight and I recognize her as a likely employee of the cinema.
Scanning quickly the whole room, I understand that I am indeed the only person in there, and that maybe they want to close. I watch the movie a couple more minutes, then I notice the woman is still there. So I ask: "Do you want me to go away? I understand it is very late and I am the only person in here". She said something complimentary. I said "Never mind, that's not a problem. I have already seen it once, anyway".
So I get up and I go away; she says "Thank you, sir" as I pass by her. I didn't even ask for a refund of my ticket.
After all, it's late. People want to go home. After all, a cinema is nice as long as it is a clean and well lighted place, and ifas long as there is a big crowd watching the movie and participating with enthusiasm and hurrahs. Who wants to stay in a cinema for a quiet client all on himself, at midnight, watching Marlon Brando roaring from the screen, playing in an old movie nobody watches anymore?
Outside there was a nice sky. Only in Umbria and in Rome the sky knows how to sport that quality, particularly at night in Rome. You know how it is. Tender is the night.
I walk alone in the suburb, heading to my house as the pleasant summer night unravels its wonders around me and the head lamps of a few scanty cars occasionally stream around and other cars honk in the distance.
The Sliding Door suddenly closes.
Of course, Charlie is there. He never goes out. Or, at any rate, if he does, for some odd reason he is always back before my arrival.
He is sitting on the floor by a window. He is facing the side wall.
I place the keys on the tray and I take off my jacket as I step in.
"You came back", says Charlie, fixating the wall.
Charlie never looks at you in the eye. And soliciting him to look at you does no good. Not that it ever came to my mind to solicit him: for some reason, it took me just a little a while to understand, by a sudden insight, that when he was nearby you and looking elsewhere, for instance apparently engrossed by something invisible on the floor at one meter by where you were standing, he was instead looking at you, in some special oblique manner of his. I saw a few times curled up Dutch Dogs checking you out like that.
I watch the other wall. At any rate, why should this way of leading a dialogue be regarded as weirder than any other? There is now only the two of us, with a tremulous sunset outside: it's Charlie sitting under the window, me standing at a distance, and both staring at the opposite walls.
"I am always back", I say.
"Always?", Charlie wonders.
"You know it. You know that I do".
A silence follows. Then Charlie considers: "What if one day you won't?".
"It would mean something has happened to me. When was the last time you saw something happening to me?".
"I have been waiting all the time" Charlie mumbles, and he starts oscillating on his backbone.
"For what? For me?" I ask.
"I have been waiting all the time", Charlie insists.
"Charlie, listen: me too. I have been waiting all the time. My whole life I have been waiting for something, be this be that. Do you know what, Charlie? Nothing ever arrives. Nothing. Ever. So, don't wait Charlie. However, at least I arrived: you have been luckier than many others. Here I am, ain't I cute? Was this worth waiting for?".
"No, no! You aren't! You're evil!" Charlie cries, and now he is oscillating still harder and again screams "No, no, no!".
Then he says "Have you seen the temple?"
"Now let's not start again with this story of the temple. There is no temple. And even if there would have been one, I would not go there".
"But everybody does! If you would, things wouldn't be like this!" Charlie asserts.
"Sure. Everybody does. And if I would have been at the goddam temple, things wouldn't have been like this. But I haven't, and I never will. For there's no temple."
"You have been at the temple and you don't want to tell me!" cries Charlie and he starts weeping "You have been and you don't want to show me!".
I am still looking at the wall. "Charlie, to be frank: I can't stand you when you do like that".
Charlie collects his legs and sits embracing tightly his knees against his chest, oscillating and still facing the wall as I do, and I know that now it is over, that he is like a monad closed in itself, as if he had reversed to the unicellular, and any further exchange would be plainly pointless; I fling my jacket on a chair, I softly sigh, and I go straight in my room.
So, that's it for today. Another day has passed.
A Sliding Door suddenly opens.
A 21 years old girl always knows what to do. And so Elena did.
She kept waiting in her room till about 10pm, I guess. Once her parents where safely asleep, she went to the drawer and took out all the necessary she had prepared. Clearly, she had planned everything in advance, with a coldness worth of a strategist, worth of politicians we haven't. She planned it previously, undoubtedly; and I wonder at times, I try to imagine her at times, planning all that beforehand, knowing perfectly what it was, all alone, all on herself: and nobody to share her secret with.
She packs everything under her arm, with patience, like surgeons we haven't; and finally she goes out of her house as her parents sleep deeply. How many Juliets have met their Romeos in this way!
It is cold outside, for it is deep winter. But this doesn't matter in the least: for nothing's gonna stop a man or a woman with a plan in her mind.
She walks, knowing very well what it is about, and what to do.
She keeps walking for many minutes, because she knows where she is heading. She is utterly alone in that area, in the miserable outskirts of the dozing city, and no one can see her. Many times I have tried to fathom her thoughts during that solitary walk. What thoughts could she have entertained? How did she manage to harbour those thoughts while so desperately alone in the heat of a frozen winter night?
She walks lightly dressed, with her packet under her arm, and she is now crossing the field of grass and mud that separates her house from the highway. God if she looks beautiful: a barely 21 years old girl, lightly dressed, profiling her fresh shape against a winter dark sky, bordering a big deserted field of rotten leaves and mire. She knows what she is going to do. But somehow, I often thought or deluded myself into thinking that it could have been now as if immense throngs were travelling with her, as if huge crowds were following her and assisting her, and spirits or ghouls were hovering all around her so definitive solitude.
After about ten minutes she reaches the appointed place. It's time to do it. So she methodically unfolds the packet under her arm, she leans against the high voltage pole, she flings the rope on it, and she hangs herself. A 21 years old girl hanging from a high voltage pole! Now, now, what a power is gathered in this image, in this choice of hers!
She keeps hanging there till morning, still alone; and when with the first lights someone spotted her corpse dangling in the dawn, what was left to be seen was a 21 years old girl's corpse that kept swinging the whole night, alone in the winter freeze, by a high voltage pole. I guess that when the first two guys came under that pole in the morning and started looking at her body in bewilderment, she might have said to them: "and now what the fuck are you looking at, you morons? you who are most likely judging me and thinking you're that much better than me: you aren't. So, what are you looking at?".
When I learned it, I told them: we all ought to do this.
The Sliding Door suddenly closes.
Now, you need to know that whereas once I am back at home the day should arguably be nearly over, in my very, oh so very special case there are still plenty of things to do that anxiously await me in my room.
There are so many things to accomplish when I am back, that it is nearly impossible to finish them all. There is always, invariably, something left unfinished, half-fulfilled, and that will haunt me all night as an unrealized duty, as a promise that wasn't kept:
quam olim Abrahae promisisti
et semini ejus.
Promisisti! Promisisti! Promisisti!
So I better start soon.
The first thing I have to do is to get some object in my hands. It doesn't really matter which one, for one never knows precisely what needs to be attended: so one has to review everything in order to divide one's efforts with impartiality among the many things that reclaim my attention, and find out which one needs to be attended or fixed first.
The funny thing is that, as the twilight of the bigger window in my room deluges my white room where no light is turned on, I never either remember or see clearly the object I handle. I mean, the twilight would allow seeing, actually; and I do have taken something from the table, or from a shelf: that is for sure; and I am now considering it with the utmost attention. I roll it in my hands evaluating every single facet of it, as if absorbed in its features with endless marvel and strained attention. But I can never remember or understand with finality what it is. However, it is undoubtedly a most interesting piece of furnishing, endowed with the most compelling characteristics: otherwise I wouldn't be studying it with so much care. I wonder if it has always been in my room or if it is something new brought in by I don't know whom. Then, as I tend it, I start mumbling and whistling appreciatively: that's doubtlessly a most surprising piece of an object, isn't it?
So, engrossed in this care, I spend at least half an hour.
After such demanding an exertion, I pass to another object. Once an hour has passed, I rarely have enough energies left to take care of a third object, and I fling myself, exhausted, on my only shattered armchair.
So now I can finally sit before my big window, and watch outside its framebox and enjoy the sight and recover myself from my travail. And this is another very important thing to do.
The strange thing usually are my neighbours. I mean, the ones living in the building right in front of mine. Their night room is there and when they go to bed, they always undress with all the lights on and the window blinds fully open, so I can usually see whatever goes on. I can assure you, it is most interesting. The woman is a platinum blonde, not too tall, slim, with slender legs, or so it seems, with long and slightly curly hair, and with an aristocratic nose. She is somewhat attractive a lady, sporting a funny and yet fascinating mix of negligence and elegance, spiced with a dash of arrogance. She is normally wearing a silky, short white night gown. She is normally on the right side of the bed, standing there and either combing her hair or telling something to her husband.
The latter is normally already lying on the left side of the bed, either on top of it or under the blankets, wearing a full fledged and well ironed pajama - that is, jacket and matching trousers, normally of a dark red, with a front pocket and with black stripes at the collar, sleeve and trousers ends. I at times wonder what kind of man is a man who, when he goes to bed, wears a full pajama set like that one: and particularly with a platinum blonde by him. I have spent my whole life sleeping either fully clothed, at times even with my tie still on, or wearing just random shorts or a tee-shirt (normally either, never both) and when it's cold I grab a random sweater, partially eaten up by the woodworms, and I put it on; and that's it.
This guy instead takes care of putting on a whole pajama set.
These neighbours are rich guys, I guess. Once, I checked the name on their door bell, out of mere curiosity: an easy thing to do once you know the building and the floor. Then, having a look on the phone book after that name, I found out the man must own a jewelry shop. I can be such a snoop! So, that's what the platinum blonde probably is: a relatively sophisticated lady, with a plastic surgeon who may have retouched her snobbish nose, with a penchant for jewelry and the big money that should go with it, and a husband that probably wasn't exactly the amount of big money she expected or that she could honestly aim at and hope for. A second hand platinum lady: a Madame Bovary of the uttermost suburbia.
I sit watching at them till they switch their lights off. This show occurs nearly every night and I must say that when for some reason I can't watch them going to sleep, either because I am late or because they are not at home that night or who knows what, I feel as if one of the most remarkable parts of my day went sadly missing.
Once they turn their room lights off, I stay there in the dark of my room watching outside for quite a while still; then it is finally time to sit in front of my TV set.
It's a very cute TV set, black and white, pretty small, with a funny rhomboidal shape, and I love it. It has only 5 channels or so: however, that's more than enough to keep me troubled. Which channel should I watch today? It is this the time when my thoughts may take the strangest paths. I mean, I am focused on this hard decision of determining which channel might be better tonight, but no matter how hard I try to focus myself on this major issue, there is always some other thought that comes in the way either to disturb me or to coax my mind elsewhere and that prevents me from coping with this grievous decision in a timely and urban manner.
A Sliding Door suddenly opens.
Now for instance as I sit before my precious TV set, I remember when I was a kid. We were all living like one happy family in that big house, with two floors: and gee if we were nice a family. I can't remember how old I was: maybe ten or who knows. I never remember the important details, you see. For instance I can't remember the names of the persons, or those of the streets, or birthday and anniversary dates, or ages, or phone numbers: in other words, I can never remember all those things that are truly important if you want to relate in a civil manner. I can't tell you how disappointed a guy can be when he or she understands you can't remember his or her name: for, arguably, if even the most unforgettable part of their futile lives is forgotten, what may they be left with in order to be recognized?
However, on the second floor there was my room. I had its walls painted with blue. Why, isn't blue a nice colour? I even used some corners of those walls as my canvas, painting or writing on them. Gee if I loved it. My parents were very liberal guys, you see, and they let me to. Oh if that wasn't kind of them! There was also a long corridor separating my room from that of my parents. Tonight I could hear they were having a major argument in their room.
Well, who hasn't an argument, from time to time? Everybody has. So my parents too had one. I can't tell exactly how frequently one. Rather frequently maybe? How could I know? I only know I could hear they were having one right then.
Then I heard a great rushing, as if of immense wings fluttering in the corridor: and then suddenly both my father and my mother burst into my room.
My father was with his back at the wall, holding something, perhaps a pillow, or a newspaper: I can't recollect, or maybe I never truly noticed; and my mother was holding something else whilst facing him. I couldn't understand what they were yelling. I remember I got closer, standing at about one meter from them. They didn't seem even to notice me, though I was probably saying something or somewhat crying. I later had the impression mummy considered this somewhat educational to me.
I realized my mother had a belt in her hand, when she started leashing dad on the head with the buckle. I think she hit him twice, with an interval of a few seconds in between. My father was holding that undefined something with which he apparently meant to shield himself, but in vain. He was there, taking it with a sense of fatality in his whole behaviour as if nothing else could be done than taking it. So no wonder he was hit twice, both times; and next thing I remember is that they went out of my room in the corridor. After a little while, maybe half a minute, I followed suit; and I saw a long trail of red stains on the floor, the blood of my father most assuredly, punctuating a track leading up into the bathroom.
No one was to be seen around anymore. I didn't know what to say. So I just went back in my room.
That was mummy: a female first-born in a southern family, who was never able to came to terms with the fact her brothers, though not first-borns, were granted more attentions than her just insofar as they were males; a whole lifetime spent reliving this situation, spreading it all around, constantly attempting to prove it wrong, trying to win a revenge on the masculine unjust; a whole lifetime spent, all spent, spent day after day and almost hour after hour and again till the bitterest end, in the vain endeavour to reaffirm rights that appeared vulnerated forever.
The Sliding Door suddenly closes.
For a couple of hours or slightly more I try to make up my mind about which TV program to pick, sitting there in front of the switched off TV, mooning about which channel to tune up without ever resolving for one, and holding a plastic glass in my hand with some water or orange juice or maybe milk in it.
Then, as I sit still in the throes of this difficult deliberation, staring in the dusk at that box, my grip on the paper glass insensibly fails, the glass falls on the floor pouring all its contents around, and I fall asleep before my switched off TV set with my head slightly reclined on my right shoulder, my chin slightly leaning on my chest.
And at times, sleeping like that, I even dreamt.