Dear customer - chapter four


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The Saturday Bus Stop. If I missed this intersection with Belinda, the day was going to go wrong. That day, I saw her getting on the bus next to mine. Everything seemed to be against me.

On Saturday, volunteers from Caritas arrived to collect cans for refugees or the third world populations. They had those Franciscan ways, and we used them. Even if you had to go through a mineral water bed and they were in the middle, you will not disturb them. The boys had their own tables at the entrance to retrieve the envelopes of the customers who intended to participate. The clientele was intrigued, dazed by the news from television on dioxin chickens and mad cows. At some moments, real psychoses were created. People were suspicious.

 

- Look at this chicken: doesn’t it look too bloated?

- Madam, it's not a chicken. It's a guinea fowl.

- Really? I had no idea you imported meat from Egypt!

 

This reflection, ended a week of stress, crap, and rain.

Monday. The week started with another promotion. The opening environment was neat and clean, the shelves in order and the offers looked like fragments of inlays: stacks of items tied together with the base of four parcels horizontally, under another four vertical parcels, and so on. La frutteria was a little vegetable garden flourishing and the pork store, a rural wine cellar. The scent of hot baking bread spilled across the corridors.

 

At the end of the day, the rush hour noise didn't fade: it moved inside your head. From the outside, I heard the horns of cars at the traffic lights, while there looked like a country demolished by an earthquake. The posers of the offers were exchanged, and the stacks were in disorder. The counter outside seemed attacked and bombarded. A bottle of rustic past lay disintegrated on the floor, another oil in there. Papers and leaflets on the ground, packs of meat were abandoned on the shelves for detergents. At the exit, there were full envelopes that someone had not had time to hide. The crates resonated with the typical computer rhythm of our end-of-day accounts. It was paradoxical that craft: one had to create a magnificent exposition that attracted the attention of the public, knowing that success would be determined by its disfigurement. The opposite of the theatre.

Sometimes my grandfather came back to my mind. He told me about the years of the war, of his country, he likened misery to a circular cheque, equal everywhere.

There was this conflict somewhere in the world. The television broadcasted it. The Western World also participated. The supermarket was filled with people who were suggestive, old people who were hoarding all sorts of items: sugar, pasta, flour. Patients were standing in line, and nobody complained. The music was turned off, for my relief. The coffee rack was empty. There were grains stored in open containers. An old man approached slowly. He stopped, looked around, and with a brush dropped a mixture of dust and coffee in the empty bag.

It was elder Mr. Alfredo Toffolo. He seemed out of Sciuscià or some Bicycle Thieves, but he didn't have the bike, and his shoes were peeling with mended laces. He lent a helping hand through her white hair, which was kept good by a stream of water. Coming down to the supermarket with the spirit of a boy, and trying to trick the same middle-aged lady, accompanying her and holding her bags, seeing that she got home safely. They kept each other company.

 

Alfredo gave me his poems: "You always have to read," he said.

 

Green meadows where red poppies grow.

That's where I’d like to sleep, exhausted.

No plates and no marble.

 

- Keep my poems and every time you see a red poppy, call it Alfredo.

 

She winked at his cheeks and came out of the chocolate department. He seemed to have prepared the plan for the robbery of the century, but he only sought an emotion. Those sweets were for grandchildren. He pretended to be there by chance, when I was throwing off the waste from the fruit Orchard Department. Alfredo held a bag stacked in the raincoat pocket.


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 © ENRICO MATTIOLI 2017




© Enrico Mattioli 2017