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￭ in return for your navy blue shirt
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2011-08-29 | |
The doorbell goes rrriiiing.
- Johnny, see who that is! mother tells me.
I open the door... and guess what! It's Titi!
- Titi, what brings you here?
- Hello, hello! I've got good news! I've got good news!
- Come in!
- You won't believe me when I tell you. Some people here called me. They paid my return ticket...
- Wow! You should have called me. Who are those people?
- I wanted to surprise you. Does the Z Publishing House ring a bell?
- Are you serious? What did they say about the manuscript?
- They're crazy about it. We'll make a hit! Ever since Koontz...
- Hello, my mother interrupted the conversation.
- My compliments, madam.
- Mother, I have told you about Mr. Titi.
- Oh, yes. You are welcome. What could I offer you? Some wine, juice, mineral water?
- A glass of mineral water will be just fine, madam. We were given loads of food and drinks... I could travel by plane anytime.
- At the price of the ticket, I should agree.
She went into the kitchen and after some minutes she came back, bringing a plate of appetizers and a bottle of Montclair water of 500 ml.
- Oh, you shouldn't have bothered, madam.
- In case you change your mind... The journey was long and tiring. Please excuse me now, I have something to do.
- No problem madam. Thank you very much!
Titi was the same well-behaved person that I met during my latest visit in Romania. He began telling me all about the latest published books, about the translations, about how difficult life was back there.
- So when are we supposed to meet these people?
- Tomorrow morning. Here‚Äôs the address.
- I know where this is. We take the subway and we go seven stops on the green line. Then we take a short walk...
The doorbell goes rrriiiing again.
In front of the door there stood my grandfather, with his messy hair and his eyes deep into their orbits. I watched him stunned. It should have been already five years since his death.
- How are you, grandson? It's been so long...
I stood dumb. The voice could not trick my memory. I slammed the door in his face and stood with my back against it, listening to the accelerated beats of my heart. I began breathing deep, using that old trick that would always work, of counting until ten. I turned around, looked through the peephole and... nothing. I was convinced that I suffered the kind of hallucinations that are the effect of too little sleep and continuous writing.
- Who was it? said an unknown voice from the house.
When I went back in the living room, there was a stranger there instead of Titi, who seemed rather puzzled. His head was pointy and he had a military haircut. He was wearing a grey suit and a green tie...
- Who are you? Where's Titi? What are you doing here?
- Look out the window! he told me.
- Haven't you heard me?
- Please, just look out the window.
- Just look!
An immense black cloud was shading the centre of the metropolis. Smaller living clouds came out of it, formed of thousands of insects. They threw themselves over the buildings, breaking them apart.
- What the...?
But the stranger had already disappeared. He had simply disappeared. I did not waste any more time thinking. I headed for the bathroom. Mother was washing some clothes.
- Wake father up and get out of the house! Get out of the house!
I took the elevator. I felt as if it descended in slow motion. I got out of the building and I looked at the sky. Nothing! No sign of the cloud, no collapsed building. Nothing!
- Let's go, I said, looking upwards. I turned my eyes and...I was all alone in the middle of the street. Then I remembered. All of a sudden! Grandpa, mother, father, Titi, they have all died long ago. The only thing that was left was their memories, their ghosts, which got me out of the house.
The earth began to shake. It all lasted a few minutes. Panic. Screams. Death. The alarms of the fire brigade were heard all around. There was a smell of dust and of blood which choked my lungs.
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