Black Proteus (i)

The text you’re about to read is the first part of a short story I wrote many years ago. I’ve recently revised it throroughly, so this probably is as close as it can get to a clean an “definitive” version, if such a thing exists when it comes to the stories I write.

 

“Such bewilderment in me that evening, it was almost dark, next to my father picking up blackberries, or snails, the day I got out of the countryside, my father by me with blue dungarees, awfully ridiculous. Sickness and disgust I felt for the country back then, I always did, no idea why on earth I nurtured such an intense hatred. It’s not that I’d gone through some really bad experience, something like falling off a ravine or slitting my wrists at midnight, no, not at all. This thing with nature started in my childhood, as far as I can remember, badly remember as with all childlike things, the leaves and the grass and the green and everything around that stuff made me puke. And everybody mocking me, that I can also remember, because of this aversion of mine. But as I say that evening, at twilight picking up whatever it was, time to escape, then end and go on with the pantomime. The sky pink and orange in the west, thus this moment remained frozen in my mind, then a never-ending succession of dusks and dawns, all the same and different. Only this one, being the first one, I remember the best. And the trees in the forest nearby, talking, chattering amidst the wind they overwhelmed me with their constant mumbling, always spouting speeches I couldn’t understand. Maybe a bush, a bramble or fern might have gained a tiny space in my heart, just before trampling on them mercilessly or caressing them softly like you caress a flower. Or mushrooms. So often I had collected them with my father before that evening, all kinds of mushrooms, hours and hours wasted in the void, not uttering a single word lest a confrontation arose, a fight, my father’s crafty hands on me, dexterous in everything he set about. All of which was left behind that evening, the moment I raised my eyes and felt the old man’s unmistakable stench, just a couple of steps away from me, his gross hands collecting things from the bushes, looked like brambles, or ferns, and the blue dungarees among the leaves and the reds and blacks of the blackberries, that stench really drove me crazy, I swear it did. My father and his milky smile talking nonsense, words I didn’t understand, his tongue coarse like the bark of a tree, his, not so my mother’s, who resembled myself so much, or me her. So everybody said. I felt infuriated then about not being able to understand some people’s words, like my father, no, not anymore, or maybe I understood them far too well, judging from the course my life took, whatever happened to me much later on, once this first breakout from the country was over. But before anything else that pink evening, almost dark. Then the story, my story, if there’s any story about me, no, no time for stories, and then it’s all about telling it, I was never any good at telling stories, not to mention something more elaborate, a film for instance, I’d rather bite my tongue than summarize the indefinable, my thoughts about such questions back then. But I digress. In any case then the pantomime and start again. Lies, as I hear them, as they tell me to tell them I tell them, one after the other, at random, no order, no, no use, no hierarchies. Little by little watching it all as if in slow motion, a torrent of messed-up images, when all of a sudden I felt like fainting, no, not that much, maybe just some dizziness as my father tossed his head among the brambles, all of that so far away now, seems like yesterday, maybe it all happened yesterday.”

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