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Open Door by Iosi Havilio

Open Door by Iosi Havilio

Author:Iosi Havilio [Iosi Havilio]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781908276070
Publisher: And Other Stories Publishing
Published: 2011-05-14T16:00:00+00:00


NINETEEN

I make mistakes: I act too hastily, on impulse, like a child.

Jaime was going to the village to send a fax to the ministry to initiate his retirement process. I’ll go with you, I said, and that made him happy. I got into the truck and started the engine while Jaime finished getting some papers together. I turned on the radio and the only thing I could pick up properly was the exultant voice of an evangelical pastor talking in a strange mix of Spanish and Portuguese. Every two or three phrases, a euphoric crowd celebrated his sermon with hoarse cries that lengthened the o of glory into paroxysm. It could have been recorded or live, it could have been a joke or serious, it didn’t matter.

I was about to switch off the radio but I waited for a second to see Jaime’s reaction. But Jaime didn’t react, and I tired first. We went past the door of the shop, it looked closed. To tell the truth, it always looks closed. We passed a man wearing a military-green beret who was cycling in the opposite direction. Jaime sounded the horn unwillingly and it produced a toneless electric noise, like a death rattle. The man in the beret raised an arm in greeting and almost lost his balance. Jaime looked at me as though he wanted to tell me who it was, or for me to ask him: Who’s that? I didn’t give him the pleasure.

We stopped at the service station to fill up with diesel. Jaime greeted everyone again, as usual. I got out to buy some gum at the kiosk. Two guys wearing the company uniform, waiting on tiny benches for their turn to serve the next client, were giving me sidelong glances. They weren’t watching me: they were keeping me under surveillance. It was the best remedy for boredom in this circular village, which already knew everything about me and what it didn’t, it invented. Before we left, through some half-paranoid instinct, which sooner or later makes us utterly paranoid, I turned my head, just slightly, just for a second, just long enough to see how the third man, the one who had exchanged a few words with Jaime as he watched the numbers run up on the pump, approached the other two, adding his conspiratorial laugh, loaded with innuendo that secretly named me.

For the rest of the journey to the shopping centre, Jaime stayed silent. A silence that I almost filled with words that I chewed over in my head several times and then aborted without ever opening my mouth.

‘I don’t know how long I’ll be, I have to send the fax, then get that man, the what d’you call him, the administrator, to confirm that it arrived safely. Why don’t you take a walk?’

Jaime had stepped out of the pick-up and was speaking with his hand on the door. Since I don’t reply, not out of meanness but because I don’t know what I want, he gives me the keys so that I can feel free.



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