From Naples to Constantinople, just as long as it’s far from Copenhagen. Camels, sultans, dancing dervishes, the Orient is a mirror to his fantasy, and a balm for his ravished soul. If only his life were like the Thousand and One Nights. He understands now that fairytales are his true calling.
A while later he watched the two men cross the street and climb into the jeep, and for the first time he noticed how much they resembled each other. “This is how it had to be,” he said aloud to himself. “That’s why I came here. To give him my jeep and my money, knowing he’ll waste it all.”
How to swallow this new development: the theft of a TV set in the shape of a dog. The earth spins on my account today. My heart rings like a bell, bells are ringing in my ears, I can’t hear a thing.
Half a century meanwhile was passing into oblivion, bearing away with it long-haired heroines despairing on Romantic canvases. What its second half would bring remained an enigma to minds exhausted by a strange anxiety. At the end of October no one suspected the time was ripe for Spiritualist séances.
Day after day thousands of tourists come and see where that lucky devil the sultan ate, where he slept and where he kept his harem full of beautiful women. But none of that concerns Mahmud, an Iraqi with a greying beard and nicotine-stained fingers. He smokes a cigarette every five minutes, regular as clockwork, right down to the filter, until it starts to burn his fingers.
“You feel numbers?” The neurologist looked into my face. “When they report them…” “But its only numbers. Numbers were invented so that we don’t have to feel.” “But when they report that . . .” “They report, they report!! They report about the 1999 or the six million so that they don’t have to think or see it. Numbers are a wall behind which others cry and shed blood!”
He undressed completely, put on a pair of blue swimming trunks, picked up his violin and the bow, tuned it and asked, so you’re not going for a swim then, right, and strode into the field of lupins carrying his violin. He moved forward slowly, holding the instrument high above his head as if to make sure it wouldn’t get wet, as if wading through waves.
I stare at the electrified Poseidon, I stare at him imploringly because I don’t know what he wants. I haven’t the faintest idea of what has got into his head. And my Father the revolutionary, the guerrilla, clutches his ear, forms it into a trumpet with his hand and aims it at a sound I am only now beginning to hear.
The blue surface broke into a hundred pieces, like a shattered mirror. Multicoloured spots whirled in his eyes. He felt the skin on his cheek burning. He regained consciousness instantly. He realised now that it was not a dream. He was not on the coast. Something much worse than a nightmare was happening in the waking.