Midnight, an old house,

Where nothing stirs but a mouse


I

Half past three in the morning. Silence. The man was lying down on the mattress but was not sleeping. His right hand couldn't stop moving along his thigh. It was a constant, rhythmic motion: down, up, up, down, down, up. The man had taken the vicodin pill hours ago, it seemed, but he couldn't feel its effects yet.

He had his eyes closed. His mind was filled with the colour red. It was the pain. Only the pain existed. As if someone had punctured the leg with an hot iron, ripping flesh, muscles, tendons, to the bone and beyond the bone. His flesh was on fire. All his being was on fire.

The man wanted to scream but no sound came out. The man wanted to move but he kept quiet. Only his hand moved. From top to bottom, from bottom to top. Relentless as the destiny.

Everything was bright red. In times like these he only wished he could rip his leg apart in one single blow. Finish all the pain forever. The man thought about this possibility for a moment. He imagined how he felt if someone chopped off his leg, and the imaginary pain allied itself to the real pain so even thinking about that possibility became unbearable. It was with this that he lived since... forever?... since he had the infarction. In another life, it seemed to him.

He only had to wait for the vicodin to kick in, despite the fact that patience was not one of his major virtues. "kick in, son of a bitch, kick in", he thought, with his teeth clenched shut. His will still remained untameable.

His brow was sprinkled with tiny drops of sweat, some of them were running down his neck, back, belly. The man felt sticky in that stuffy air. He tried to think of something else but the thoughts were confusing, without substance, from the red, shadows of figures, that he could not identify, appeared and disappeared. The pain reigned supreme, everything else was insignificant. He was insignificant. The genius. An open wound made of suffering. The genius.

What else to do? Only to wait, to practice patience, like the buddhists monks had taught him. "To practice patience". Fuck all religions and their teachings, their techniques of control. He was in hell. "Stop that, you went through worst things so just hang in there."

Time passed. How much time, the man didn't know. Time passed and the pain changed. It was now a slight burning sensation, continuous but much more easy to endure. "Finally", he thought with relief. God bless Vicodin.

His hand stopped moving along the thigh and immobilized above the scar. He could feel it below the trousers. An ugly, mishapen thing, made of deep grooves. One finger of his hand, very slowly, almost absent-minded, started to touch it, to follow its crevices and bumps. The scar was the other thing. He could muffle the pain, he could, sometimes, even forget about it completely but the scar, the scar was always there. In his leg and in the deepness of his thoughts. The mark of Cain, said one voice in his mind. The man smiled at this melodramatic remark. Things were improving. He could now laugh at himself. Not everything was lost. All of a sudden the man felt more alive. He drew a deep breath and let the silence wrap around him. After a while, the man opened his eyes and the dark welcomed him.

If not for the darkness and if he wasn't alone, one could have seen that the man had blue eyes. A blue of one thousand hues, that could change with the light. A volatile blue. Like the man himself. If one were curious, or courageous, enough to look inside those eyes he would have seen the essence of the man, because it was there, for all the world to see. The man's soul was in his eyes. But nobody ever had wanted to look, or if they had looked they had not understood, or if they had understood they had forgotten with time, or... The truth was that many times people got distracted by the man's voice.

His voice was capable of saying cruel things, humiliating things. She took pleasure in its repertoire of jokes and metaphors, ready for every occasion, the more imaginative and outrageous the better. The voice asked, demanded, attention. Through her, the man could destroy a person with a truth or manipulate another with a lie. The voice was, at the same time, the organ of the irony, of the intelligence, of the humour, of the certainties, of the lies, of the truths, of Power. It was through the voice that the man showed to others how stupid, boring, hypocrites, liars, useless, pathetics, they were. It was through the voice that he confronted them with their mistakes, with whom they really were. The voice was eloquent, powerfull, arrogant, authoritarian, inescapable. She didn't allowed discussions or doubts.

Only rarely, very rarely, the voice assumed a calm, soft tone. Even more rarely she could become a murmur. In those moment, eyes and voice were one and the same. Those were the moments of private confessions, witnessed by only a few. The moments of "I'm sorry", "I love you", "I'm hurt", "I'm damaged", "I don't know", "I need her". The moments when the man forgot the others and looked inside himself, to the truth that was there.