07. Untitled

The child has become a boy and the boy has become a man.
Please, meet the man you are. But you are not pleased at all.

Soft music in the passenger area, cigarette in my mouth, I felt like a modern lone knight riding his steel steed in the night. Luminous signs and flickering street lamps showed me the way, in a journey without a destination whose only purpose was to make me, at least for a few hours, the sole author and master of my destiny. To hell with the office, to hell with poker games with friends, to hell with schedules and rules: I was the lord of my world. I. Free, fearless and invincible.
And handsome…
A red light, a drag on the cigarette and the commotion to my right. Three disreputable faces, a girl struggling with terror in her eyes, a gothic atmosphere of violence and wickedness that shocked my universe. The knife of one of the three, my hand lingering on the door lever, the traffic light turning green.
The departure.

***

I stopped playing the lone knight in the night. I stopped complaining about schedules and rules: I deserved nothing else, evidently. There was no night without me waking up, shipwrecked in cold sweat, repeating to myself that I could have done something, that I HAD to do something, but fear had taken over. Therefore, I had no right to make man’s claims, since I hadn’t proved myself.
If only I had another chance, I kept repeating to myself. It would all be different.
I spent entire nights staring at vials of barbiturates, but I didn’t feel brave enough for that either. Or, maybe, I was a coward but not enough.
Just another chance…

***

The child has become a boy and the boy has become a man.
Please, meet the man you are. But you are not pleased at all.

I hadn’t heard that song since then, just like I hadn’t passed by that area, through that intersection.
The red light, a drag on the cigarette and the commotion to my right. Three disreputable faces, a girl struggling with terror in her eyes, a gothic atmosphere of violence and wickedness that shocked my universe. The knife of one of the three, my hand lingering on the door lever, the traffic light turning green.
The departure.

END

[First written as “Senza titolo” in 1995. Re-edited in 2018 with the help of Sonia Lombardo. Translated from the Italian by Sabrina Beretta and edited by Karen Rought in 2019.]
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