The World In Two Days

excerpt23 Anghel is standing in the gateway. His house lies outside the barbed-wire fence surrounding the grounds of the Water House. It's true that his yard becomes indistinct as the grounds begin, but the front of his house is surrounded by a wall standing one meter high, a brick wall, with a narrow groove full of earth where flowers grow, yellow and white and red in the daytime. The gate is an iron grating only a trifle higher than the wall. Anghel is there, on his feet. He's not speaking, he moves aside and allows Antipa to pass. You walk along a narrow alley between two rows of box. The poplars are behind you now. There is no mud here, feet tread on wet sand. But Antipa's feet are heavy with mud, the slimy soil. Here are the hives. A big bee is flying with difficulty above one of them. It examines it with its long proboscis, then grabs it with is hairy front legs, lifts it up, and flies it over the yard before leaving it under a dark bush. That's enough for today, Muedin, says Anghel, off you go. Muedin takes a last look at the hive under the bush and then comes towards the two men; one shoulder is straight, while the other hangs much lower, as if broken. He's very strong, says Anghel, he does help me but no one says he should stay on till midnight. I'm tired, I am dead tired, says Antipa, I don't know what the heck's wrong with me, my head's gonna burst. He rubs his eyes with the back of his hand quickly, it's like they threw sand in my eyes. Who did? asks Muedin. That's it, says Anghel, off you go. Muedin leaves. Anghel shuts the gate very carefully. A convent key turns inside the lock twice. What a joke! As if anyone would fail to jump over this gate. It's not even as high as the armpits of an average-height person. As for the fence, you can easily step over it. One can hear the muffled rumble of the water pumps. Above the low wells, far away on the plain beyond the tree, there are powerful light bulbs burning in mid-air. In pots made of tin or burned clay, in wooden boxes, under a dome improvised out of wooden rods supporting a sheet of nylon, there grow dwarf cacti, a few hundred pots. Antipa takes a long time to clean his shoes on the iron grating in front of the door. The room he enters is a monk's cell. A powerful light bulb on the ceiling, a lamp shade made out of enameled tin like an upside-down plate. The light strikes cruelly the white, glaring, empty walls. It smells of sheepskin coats and wax candles. The old and sturdy table is covered with a white towel. A white blanket lies on the narrow bed by the wall. A pitcher with a long and narrow neck; beside it, on the window pane, a dish where a honeycomb piece can be seen. They may even be the dish the fox used to feed the stork some milk, and the pitcher out of which the stork fed the fox back. The happy fable times, the fox and the stork mocking each other. Antipa. Light, relieved, cheerful. Good for your own good. Good for other people's good. Tonight you are sweet ointment. There is still time till dawn. Not too much time, the nights are short now but they have already started to grow longer. So free and alone with your contentment. Not waiting, not asking, not examining. A row of gerundials pushing you towards serenity! Your soul is now a voice, Antipa, a person, that being that takes a seat beside you at the table and on a bench in the square, the shadow, well, you can call it my shadow. Is it that, which speaks?… This night is the day when you can do anything, your unconcern can turn into bloody faith. You can be mystical, you can stutter as much as you like, I won't make fun of you. I'm listening and I understand, it's for me to touch joy now. My highest state. Make useful haste before my one-moment's power wanes away. It's strange how your light-heartedness and unconcern have brought me here. The ideas are crackling like dry twigs while I rise and am alive. My way is simple, perfection is a tear. Don't you understand? Then listen to me, because I have to disappear, I've tricked you, I cannot stay too long: my pride grows out of light-heartedness and unconcern. You give meaning to this pride, and new form to it!… This is your third cup, says Anghel. You're thirsty. I've let you be silent. I've been waiting. Are you listening to me? You talk, the lot of you, says Antipa. I've talked enough for today! I'm listening. I am merry. You will pay for your merrymaking, says Anghel. Yes, says Antipa. When the liquid flows from this small pot into the cup, it's sweet gurgling that I hear. This is what I call smooth-talking, do you know what Pashaliu says? You don't know Pashaliu, so how can I tell you what he says? I'm listening to you. He lies recumbent on the blanket. A high, narrow, hard monk's bed. His head he leans against the wall. His soles barely reach the floor. The yellowish lye-scrubbed planks. Anghel, says Antipa with a laugh, fetch me a stool so that I may pay for my merrymaking with my feet up!Silent, meek, Anghel fetches a low three-leg stool, wood with no iron, the legs like short clubs stuck aslant in a half-trunk of polished beech. His shadow climbs up the walls in the flashing light. It is completely dark, tied up to the living body like the clock's tongue to eternal time. Who spoke? He doesn't sit down. His piety is true, as is the commanding dry voice displaying no mercy. Piety and fury. Anghel.You've been with a woman, he says. Of course, says Antipa.Her stench is in you, says Anghel. She stinks nice, says Antipa.You've left her place for quite a while now but her stench is in you, says Anghel. His voice melts down a bit, the roughness gives way, unexpected softness (nostalgia? second thoughts?), ambiguous tremble: you never believed for one second?… And a mean flicker in his eyes. Antipa sits up straight. His palate dry. The tongue doesn't help. He's not drinking. He places the cup carefully between blanket folds. It's not fear, it's actually a vague stir in his bowels, but this doesn't chase away his cheerfulness. When you've eaten well and the heavy lunch is behind you now, you go out on the veranda the same way, your gun hanging up on the wall, before you lies the farm land, the light stifling sensation that you had at lunch goes away. Your horses, your cattle and your people are there, the house mounts under the weight of the ivy. You play with your tamed wolf the same way, he jumps up and gnarls, your man brought him to you right from under the she-wolf's teat when he was only three weeks old (the she-wolf herself having been taken from under another she-wolf's teat when she was only three weeks old, and kept inside a reservation). You play with him the same way, while digestion starts and a slight torpor, a pleasure that you inherited and treasured carefully comes over you, and then you hear a snarl, as you're pulling the wolf's ears like you do every day, your fingers keep moving between his rough ears but you forget to take the cigarette out of your mouth, the smoke gets in your eyes, you play the same way, but you slowly move towards the door, towards the wall where the guns is hanging. Almost the same way. I should be going, says Antipa. There is time, says Anghel. Antipa drinks some more. How are your cacti doing? Anghel's strong, dry neck comes out of the round mouth of a white, very clean, coarse hemp shirt that's stuck on him the way wet shirts freeze on the line in winter. The head on the neck turns towards Antipa. His narrow face, grooved by long, firm lines, is less harsh. His grey hair shines faintly. Now it's the head of a well-meaning, contented man, the fanatical sparkle is his eyes is not disparaging anymore, you can see there the untamed ego of a pioneer, his efforts to be kind, now that he's reached the pinnacle of his glory, his fanaticism has furtively retreated into the deep and taken the accessible form of an emotion. Yet another distrustful glance, but Anghel's hands have already begun searching in the table drawer, his fingers stumbling feverishly over trinkets, the snapping sound of the drawer being violently torn out. I've got a letter from New Zealand here, the teacher translated it for me, says Anghel.New Zealand? says Antipa. Quite far away, I've seen a couple of photos and a documentary. His indifferent cheerfulness. I'm reading it to you, listen: Dear Mr. Anghel, the species you have told me about is unknown to me. This is very surprising, since I've been dealing with cacti for over thirty years. I have 725 species. As you may already know, the cactus I named Lenore received the grand prize at the Montevideo exhibition. You are giving me great news. Please accept my congratulations and my professional envy. I can tell from the photograph that we are dealing with something special here. I would be grateful, if you kept me up-to-date on the matter. My greenhouse is at your disposal, we could work here for three months every year and I do hope you could do the same thing over at your place. We can beat all the records. It is with great joy and curiosity that I'm looking forward to hearing form you. Yours truly, Percy Archibald Stone, Veterinarian… What have you go to say about this, Antipa? This cactus is my creation. It's a creature that lives, grows out of a seed and forms seeds in its turn, and I got inside the seed and made it grow differently. I did that. I didn't ask anyone for permission. I wanted life and I made life. I can take it away just as quickly as I gave it. I am its master. My power is growing. Still. Do you have that cactus? Suddenly, Anghel raises a shoulder, his head and neck are hiding behind this shoulder. His head comes out slowly, as if from a pit. That cactus, he repeats, as if Antipa's voice had entered his throat. For a moment, Antipa raises his head from the blanket, he looks at him with the air of somebody who had only just met a stranger in the street who looked exactly like him, he can't tell for sure, he stops, he doesn't know what's going on, as if he had lost something or he can't remember, what was that? A premonition, a warning? A split of a second. Then everything passes. Antipa drinks, his head finds a better spot by the wall, the soft blanket at his nape. He smiles: weren't you saying you had made a cactus, didn't you read the Englishman's letter to me? Yes, says Anghel.I want some more in this cup, too, says Antipa.Anghel, meek now, his back bends like an old man's. Strange, old Achilina's walk. She limps, drags one of her legs on the ground, her tread is all wrong. Antipa raises his head again. What's going on with your leg?Anghel pours from the pitcher into the cup, the smell of the cherry brandy, the vapors of alcohol, the nostrils and the palate, almond taste and the short lightning in the bowel. And only then its passage from the mouth onwards. Quick, hot, prickly but only after. After the bite in the bowel. The supersonic planes and their maneuvers above the town. The confused old man with the black hat and short waistcoat watching the noise and then the plane, the noise makes noise, the plane comes later silently. And the child explaining away with a serious face while he's taking the translucent worm off the hook, something like a bundle of wet nylon, and putting another one on, thick, alive, writhing in his palm and then on the hook, dark red and full of soft and squirming rings, the filth spurting out of it; still something remains there for the fish and then the child pitching the fishing rod, the translucent string disappearing in the sunlight, while a big and silent yellow butterfly, covered with pollen, glides with difficulty close to the water surface, and a bee alights next to the boy's hand on the motionless fishing rod; perhaps it finds the polished willow sweet, a piece of candy, a deep pistil, if only there was a way to get in, maybe through that thin tip where the string is tied, the bee moving up slowly with the legs of a sweet fly, the bright leaves and the bright shadows on the face of the still water and the planes showing up again; they go faster than the sound, says the child, that's why after, and the old man looking at him with despair and good-will and the child saying: the sound remains behind, and the old man coughing. You lying in the tall grass and listening, and now trying be prudent on the white blanket, why? and laughing easily at this. Fear is still far way.Anghel is not limping anymore, his legs are in one piece, just as long and strong, the trousers out of black coarse cloth. You'll show it to me some other time, says Antipa. Yes, says Anghel. I'm a bit sleepy, says Antipa. Anghel sits down on a stool in the middle of the room. Above him the light breaking out of the lamp shade's funnel. His dry, wooden face, the strong nose, the straight line of his dark eyes. An old man? Silvia Raclish: I want to come to your friend, Anghel, as well! I want to sit among his cacti and get a prize in Tokyo!People are in a hurry, says Anghel. I'm not, says Antipa. I've got time. I'm in a hurry, as well. I've waited long enough.You've got even more time, says Antipa. You and your cacti.I've got to get on with it, says Anghel. There's six of them now… his cactihe's mad about these cacti but I've got something better for him! You move, you look for a better spot on the blanket, you scratch your knee with your other leg's twisted tibia. That nutcase is fetching the jar with his cactus. He's already back, you look at him with your eyelids half open, this cactus is full of noblesse. Noblesse? Elegance, grace, it's the most noble, the most distinguished cactus I know. Antipa, you're taking the mickey, although you shouldn't, there's no noblesse, distinction or any such stuff here, you're talking nonsense, it's just a living being. This cactus is alive and it's alive on my command, it's my creation, just like you are my creation, Antipa. Antipa laughing, his back, loins, shoulders are wriggling with laughterlook here, look here, me and the cactus and Silvia and Anghel and August, you don't know August the hatter, I'm gonna bring them over, Silvia the debauchee, as well, and innocent Felicia, and we're gonna let it all out and build the world all over again starting with the cacti. In the beginning there was the cactusI've got something, too, Anghel, but I can't stop laughing, I've got two dead ones today. You make them live, I make them die. How's our bet doing?there's six of them. On the way to the table, the pot with the oblong and thick plant full of thorns, like a rat with long, sharp spines. Anghel stops walking, he holds the pot tightly with both hands, does he want to hide it in the pantry or does he himself want to hide behind, inside the cactus? His body is traversed by quick shakes, he makes it to the table, though, puts the pot on it, pants, his mouth opens, another step, he's lame now, drags one leg on the ground, he can barely lean on it. I know, I know, they're all written up, they've got papers, it's six of them including the PopeTo die from laughing, Anghel, to die from laughing, I hadn't foreseen this Pope, it just happened, I hadn't even meant it as a joke, I didn't know, I just said it and then it happened, he was apoplectic but to die from laughinghadn't meant. Joke. You're lying, you're trying to cheat me, you've got that paper, this is no joke. You've got it, show itI haven't got it. To kick the bucketYou've got it, you're lying, you're cheating, this is no joke, you've got it, you're cheating, you cheater, you liar, you're not going to tell-I haven't got it, I'm not lying this time! I didn't foresee him! Where's that brandy? Come on, Anghel, how long can this joke work?! That's it! Your cacti are more important. This-cactusthe cacti? You incapable and conceited man, you haughty, ridiculous, dissolute and helpless man! The cacti. The cacti are nothing, look what I'm doing to my cactus, this is what I'm doing! He smashes the pot to the floor, the muffled noise, silent pieces and then a small mound of black earth and the cactus with its root still hidden in the unscattered earth. And Anghel's legs squashing everything, the rotating heels of his boots doggedly blending the earth, the shivers of pot, the plant, its greenish must spurting all of a sudden, the odd splinter releasing a short crack under his heels. This is what I'm doing to my cactus. And then calming down, his eyes devoid of light, coiled up in a corner of the room, face to the wall: it's been six up to now, this can't be a joke. His humble voice. Begging: Antipa, this is not a joke, there were six of them, you knew every one of them, all six are your dead and the seventh will come, as well, like it must be. It's got to happen today, you knew about all of them, say this is no joke, not a joke, your power is not a joke. The power of my faith is not a joke. Antipa, and you're not a joke either, I discovered your power, remember us in Muedin's greenhouse when I told you: you've got the power, I knew it, and then I turned you patiently into a different person, you are my creation, I turned you into the one who knows. You were blind and incapable, a mole among other moles and I found you and said: he is the one who perceives and understands the secret. And now everything's a joke? This is not possible, no, no, noneither six nor five, Anghel, the whole storyAntipa, you are my son and brother, wake up. Anghel comes near the bed, his voice rises, the wooden features, the dry, knotty shoulders under the white shirt, limping, limping, his hands are long, you see them as very long. Antipa, be the one I made you to be. Repeat after me: it's not true, this is no joke or jest, repeat after me: I have the gift, look around you and see that you have it, look how everyone trembles before you, repeat after meyes, says Antipa. He stands up, comes to Anghel. He tries to hide the horror and pity. Fear comes slowly. Anghel, take it easy, it wasn't a joke, I was joking when I said it was a joke, I'm a bit tipsy but I know I know everything. I even know my future. Anghel raising his head from the hunch that's suddenly grown in his back. Human eyes, astonished humanly in a human's eye sockets, a live human's eyes. The voice of a quiet man: forgive me. I believe, Antipa, I believe that your power is great. You've got the mirror but without me you wouldn't have known anything, none of this would have happened without me. Now you are the power. You sit and wait and then, all of a sudden: this one, now it's his turn. And it happens. You are Su Cio, but what would have been without me? Now you are Su Cio.Su Cio?Su Cio. I'll tell you, I'll talk to you about this. The time's not ripe for you to know, yet. Later, towards dawn… hey, but drink on, this brandy is the best thing I can make. I'm making it for you. Drink, master. Antipa downs the cup. I'd better go now, he says. Where is the unconcern in his voice? A bee is buzzing in the window, right above the honeycomb in the dish. You'll tell me some other time. Tomorrow. I'll come over tomorrow and you can tell me Su Cio's entire story. No! cries Anghel. We must drink, we must honor our reconciliation. We must be happy that faith has returned to you. I know you, I couldn't have gotten this wrong. My power was to show yours. You saw it yourself: I gave life, I took it away, I'm gonna give it again. But I knew this from the start: it's him, cried my soul, him, shouted my blood. Him, murmured my mind, you are him. You mustn't doubt this. You must finish it off. Now you're here, don't make for the door, you're not someone in the crowd, you're not a mole, you are elect. Do not doubt, go on, wait, I'm gonna tell you Su Cio's story right now, drink, the night is short. By dawn you'll know everything about Su Cio. We are powerful, no one can prevent us from doing what we please with our boundless power. We must find God and make the world again, we've got the mirror, we've got the sign, its power is within us. But first the mirror is going to come here. This is our goal. Anghel breaks down over the remains of the shattered pot, leaning on his knees and elbows, his forehead ravaging through the earth mixed with splinters and vegetable remains. Antipa is in the doorway. But pity overcomes fear. Why fear? A lonely man. The only time when Anghel is crazy is when you tell someone: I know a strange man in that market town, a madman, an original man, who's got a great cherry brandy. His fantasy comes from his loneliness. Can you be afraid of a lonely man? The man from the Water House. You're the crazy one if you go away now and leave him there on the floor, a sick and lonely man. Your fear comes from tiredness, from this tense day, from the heat that changes unexpectedly to icy cold. How silly, afraid next to the old maniac, next to his brilliant confusion. Is this fear ridiculous or what? The old man's only folly is his belief, his belief is his freedom, and you, a lucky and unprejudiced young man, come on, you, who hold the freedom of your nature in so high esteem, yeah, you of all people, you ridiculous, silly man…Helped by you, Anghel gets up, he's not having a drink, he pours a couple of brandy drops in his palm, he rubs his temples and nape. Now he's moving about the room, he treads with confidence, he doesn't slip, he's not crawling, not limping, his sallow, hollow cheeks, the thoughtful eye. Antipa lies down unhurriedly on the soft blanket. He's drinking slowly, he's sipping with his lips without moving the cup. The rooster sings. The rooster is man's friend, he chases fear away and makes the owl retreat to its dark nook. The rooster stands on a fence, on a beam, on a garbage mount. The rooster doesn't sleep and gets bored. Conceited, the little knave pretending to be a baron, just a morning singer, a director of music hanging around the hencoop, a crook, a philanderer, who clogs grains down his crop and then fills the veranda with droppings, what do you know, a ridiculous little rooster biting its thumb at us. Cleaner, less dangerous the night after the rooster's call. To die from laughing, ancient beliefs, an owl, a rooster, a billy goat. To be sleepy. Not to be afraid. To be tired as a human being. Anghel sits down on the chair. He's pouring brandy in your cup. When will it dawn? A long day, the beginning of change. Antipa is silent, his eyes are slowly closing. Anghel is there with his elbows on his knees, his trunk tilted forward, his chair over by the bedside. Attentive, astonished, love, meekness, devotion. Silence, light. The bee wax smells smoothly, the dry dough has a stingy smell. Who's baking bread? A bee's climbing up the wall, it's not big, not bigger than a blackbird. There're six of them, says Anghel. And again: six of them? Six, says Antipa. How ludicrous, think about it, five, six, seven. A poor old fool. To be faithful to an absurd game, thought up during a carouse! Ludicrous! Fool! He's still got his cacti left. Maybe one day doctor Percy Archibald Stone will take him on his island. Oh my, Anghel in shorts pedalling on his bicycle with a tennis racket in his arms, the asphalt alley and big russet-coloured cows in the green fields and a jar with a dwarf cactus on the boot, tied up with a white cord! To sleep for an hour. At five in the morning you've got a train to Albala. Since you're not staying, you will come back for a few days and you will put your papers in order, you'll need two or three days for that… The rest can be arranged. Arranged, a wonderful word, something like the magician (the gentleman with the rabbits)'s mirror sphere… Come on, close your eyes and open them again in one hour's time.Yes, I knew it, six, says Anghel. It's time for the seventh one. I am guilty, Antipa. You're not mocking anything, I gave you the power, I have to teach you how to use it and to believe in it. It is in penance that I ask you to forgive me. Drink.Let's get the seventh, says Antipa, his tongue heavy with sleep. We'll get him for sure before I wake up. Pour me another cup, magus, a drop for my smooth sleep. Father of cacti. Without moving his head or opening his eyes, feeling his way like a blind man the kerbstone with the tips of his shoes, Antipa's looking for the small chair, finally finds it, manages to set it so that his soles can lean on it at ease. A deep sigh of satisfaction. But the sleep that seemed to be so close is not here yet. Antipa sits up on his elbows, always the same gesture, Anghel, says he, instead of getting me drunk, your brandy is making me sober, what exactly do you make this drink out of?! He's laughing. Let's get the seventh one straight away, what the hell are we waiting for? The words are coming out of his mouth without him wanting them to, as if he'd rather cover them, hide them (why?), reverse their way, stuff them hurriedly back in. He's laughing. His laughter is distorted, it looks like the way children, especially little girls with their ambiguous eight-year-old bodies, are trying to hide their nakedness when they are stripped mercilessly at the doctor's and the grown-ups around them begin to examine them carefully. Their shame is full of hatred and anger. It's a complicated moment, vague, full of darkness. Anghel, laughs Antipa, let's make him come right now…And Anghel roaring, throwing his arms from the shoulder, his shadow on the walls, we cannot, don't mock, man. I've waited for so long, I can't ruin everything. You incapable clown, do you think you can suck the cactus's thorn out of its flesh with your sinful mouth if its time is not yet come? Learn to be patient. But, struck by a new thought, Anghel stops all of a sudden and gives Antipa an intense look. For only one moment. Love and unexpected tenderness. Antipa opens his mouth to speak but he makes no sound, he watches Anghel. Among the dazzling walls, quiet, calm, diligent, short precise movements, the latter is gathering in a dust pan the remains of the pot where the cactus had been. Judging by the way he does everything, he could very well be an old butler in a noble home, a butler who knows his duties, the house and his master so well that he himself has become a master of sorts. Great aspirers and losers who have walked in front of the dark mirrors of the empty house wearing the master's tail coat and wig when the master wasn't there. His boots, squeak, squeak. The shirt front, his tuxedo. The cape lined with red silk. His white scarves and, in the meantime, his livery. Walking through high halls, carrying platters, bowing with distinction, having ranks and a hierarchy. Champions of humility and haughtiness. Putting the lights out and being the last to go to bed in the garret. Tomorrow, says Anghel, tomorrow. A shadow of worry. Tomorrow, a strange smile growing extinct, his eyes becoming as round as birds' eyes, tomorrow…Tomorrow, says Antipa. He lies down across the bed. He gives a deep and wide yawn. Oh yes, he says satisfied, slowly, almost in a whisper, sleep is coming, it's coming again, maybe I'll catch it. At least for an hour. Anghel's hand taking the cup, pouring with the other. Clear. Gurgle. Almond. Swaying in the light in the dazzling white. The bee on the honeycomb. not yet sleep but Druica talking doctor Pushlenghea priest Zota taking off his cassock pleasant torpor lazy the heat the hail hitting the snow in the green garden talking attorney Viziru and Agop and Moiselini and Silvia Raclish the words mouthing the words the free flow of freedom in the torpor heat cold sweat ice the old lady the silent dog not in watch not in strain lazy free in the freedom of lies the donkey hee-haw hee-haw the ears under the fur cap slow roll of words long tortuous oily wording a long day wording not yet sleep the table covered with sheets of paper the stapler ha-ha the car with a tail clack-clack two holes in the paper filed the belly the sweat undone the hair covering everything talking the unconcern losing the strain the light fear moving off and the serenity of carefree sleep wording the world in words the Christmas tree with candles the long grown dark in the cold frozen in the snow the long night a spindle not yet sleep not yet ho ho the year's axle two days some spindle ho ho when did who say this when words wording a roar hidden the fear paintings wow ho words we're talking to pass the time and the time passing in a Viennese coach 1902 two pairs of horses and a black-gritstone platform covering its face not yet sleep the face hidden under a veil or a rag how modest a woman maybe a man in disguise we mustn't waste any time words wording words a year of words rotating on its axis two days above and below a spit roast the tightly-clenched fist in the pocket hold on to time lest you should lose it lest they should steal it from you or pull it behind you by a thin strap and go to the market behind the butchers' and buy it meat leftovers you cook it and feed it on it three times a day cooked only talking not yet sleep the relaxing serene roll of words false texts books written words spoken words. Anghel comes by the bedside. You've fallen asleep, he says. You'd like to say you can still hear him but sleep is now closer than the word. But for a moment you are, you were ready to understand, a full thought through your head during the short wake, something almost merry, forgotten: to sleep and to open your eyes and to blink and to say me oh my, mother, how heavy the sleep I slept. You can hear Antipa's quiet, calm breathing. Is he asleep? Anghel on his knees by the bedside. His hand reaches out, caresses the young man's forehead. Then he takes him by the wrist. Big tears are streaming down his wooden face, down its big edges. Antipa, says he, I bow before you with gratefulness and humility. Have mercy and forgive me because look, I have forgiven you and I humiliate myself and cry. My flesh, Su Cio, my blood and my mind and help me to fulfill the work of my faith. Your lack of faith, your mockery was wrong, Antipa, you are the one made out of nothing by my faith. The power of my will. You are my soul and I cry and repent but I cannot entrust you with anything anymore. I no longer trust you, I was wrong, your faith was all lies and mockery. My faith in the things begun and taken to their end is the only one here. Nothing else. You are weak and do not believe. But you were a good man, a profound soul but too merry and careless. Why? Why? I couldn't fix anything, forgive me, forgive me, my son. It'll be over soon, you won't feel any pain. You will be sleeping. Sleep. Forgive me. his hand withdrawing slowly from Antipa'sI will help you pass quickly, I cry and humiliate myself, forgive me.An ancient and useful tool, the heavy copper hammer strikes a short blow on the sleeper's nape. An eye opens all of a sudden, the mouth remains dumb, the head twists to face upwards, the arms bump into one another like two empty pipes. The second blow splits the forehead in two. The soft twitching of the leg and the motionless hand on the white blanket, the killer's tears are shining and drying slowly among the veins still swollen. © Cartea românească, 2002 Unlike Anghel, the religious fanatic searching for the lost magical mirror from a Tang-dynasty story in order to "convince people that he speaks in the name of God" (Ileana Mălăncioiu), Antipa, the tragic hero of the parable, does not take seriously the mysterious powers that enable him to predict the death of others. The successful novel by George Bălăiţă (born in 1935), blending the supernatural with everyday life, was first published in 1975.

by George Balăiţă (b. 1935)