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Portrait of a gentleman n.1

Suddenly I felt dragged outside, or maybe inside of I do not know which place.

I knew where I was coming from, but did not know where I was now.

I had been knocked out or sucked into something, I repeat, and I had no idea what it had been, it was now and it would be happened.

I felt pain: the impact with the floor had been traumatic. Even if my hands had saved much of the hit, the lack of strength of my arms had surrendered under the doubled weight of my body.

I held my right shoulder with one hand, perhaps it was dislocated.

As soon as I had realized where I was, I would have asked someone to take me to the nearest hospital.

My experience has taught me not to neglect even apparent trifles, which nevertheless may be a symptom of something far more serious.

Thankfully I was half an hour early.

I was distracted from my thoughts by the constant sound’s repetition of footsteps. Therefore I was not alone in that place.

Thankfully there were people there and I would have asked them for help.

They were looking at me with curiosity; I did not blame them: I had fallen unexpectedly there, screaming.

I admit that I had not been able to dominate much myself, but now I had to be calm: in five minutes, this problem had to be solved. One minute more and Catherine would have kept me a grudge the whole evening.

Suddenly I noticed one of these people behind me, he looked up and down at me and fled.

Another one came crawling to look at me sideways. So did others, as if they were in the presence of a rare beast.

I was just now realizing that they shouldn’t be so normal: they were surrounding me, moving in a disharmonious way and staring at me persistently, studying my every move, above all they were not talking me.

I was starting to get nervous, actually I was already nervous. This whole situation did not make sense, but I was awake, unfortunately I was sure of that.

Well I would not have lost my nerve. It was not the first time I encountered difficulties: I always stood up to life, whatever trick it had reserved me and this, after all, was not worse than others.

I would have spoken to them first.

If the problem was just this one!

After all not everyone has a certain presence of mind!

But I had to find a suitable interlocutor.

I thought of speaking to a man who gave me the idea of a smart guy:

“Excuse me, I want to know …”

I could not finish my sentence.

That troglodyte had pushed me in order to make me fall again.

I was furious, but I had to keep calm, otherwise it would have been more than five minutes.

This time, I approached a girl and to my great surprise it didn’t go any better.

So I was jostled from one person to another.

I was panting.

Surely they were an inferior community; they were talking in a disconnected way and even their movements were clumsy.

Perhaps it was better to talk to them pronouncing the words accurately.

Eventually one of them was approaching me smiling kindly and holding out his hand.

I must admit I was slightly afraid. He had a strong body and belonged to a violent community!

“W H A T  I S  Y O U R  N A M E?” I screamed.

“Michi,” he said.

Good! We did it: his name was Michi and above all he could understand me.

“W H E R E  A R E  W E?” I insisted.

“Mico,” he replied.

What does it mean Mico?

I kept asking him questions, but the answer was always the same:

“Michi. Michi.”

It was a nightmare! One of those gloomy nightmares in which a haunting voice echoes into the depressing empty of your fear.

Suddenly the guy who was next to me, his hand still outstretched, burst out laughing wildly, tearing me out of my agony.

I could feel a vein throbbing in my head and my heart banging against my chest.

The others were laughing now.

They were enemies and were amused to insult me just for fun.

I had to get along with them and bear their bullying for a little: they could be useful to get me home.

Now they had begun to dance and sing, maybe it represented a form of communication.

There was a certain rhythm in that dance and, with some effort, I could imitate them.

I tried. Well! The movements were not the same, but with some practice…

It was approaching the moment when everyone would have screamed.

There!:

“A H!”

Damn I was wrong.

I tried over and over again.

Damn it, I just couldn’t follow their pace. I felt ridiculous and I definitely was so in their eyes.

However they were showing to put up with me. In fact, I believe, they were starting to accept my presence.

The dancing stopped and silence fell.

How the hell was that I always ended in the middle?!

They were observing me again.

One of them, a woman spoke up and vehemently, almost angrily, began, I think, to explain to me that I had to understand.

She could have been more gentle!

She yelled something that perhaps it meant that outside of that group no one would have extended a helping hand, as she was doing now.

I think she was right. Although she hadn’t lost her aggressive tone, however, she was helping me and not everyone would have done it in her place.

I couldn’t, in my situation, nitpick, and then it was good that she treated me that way to get used to what I would find outside.

She was right, but how could I make her understand that I was understanding? How could I answer her accurately?

I couldn’t open my mouth and she walked away tired.

The fear of failure had made me miss a great opportunity.

Though the last word was never said: a big girl with long and brown hair came up slowly.

She did not speak. She wanted my help to lie down. She wanted to teach me something!

This time I would have been ready.

She began to roll over; I rolled myself too.

Fine! It was not difficult.

She asked me, always through gestures, to lift her up. She would have make me move in a more complicated way, since I was good to roll over.

No.

She turned her back to me, instead and walked away in the same way she had approached me.

Maybe I’d put my arms wrongly or I had turned myself around too quickly.

Not sure, yet it definitely had been something important.

She too wanted to help me and I had disappointed her.

Everyone now were looking at me critically. To them I was a hopeless.

They did not know me, I would have been better, I just needed to commit myself, yet I needed their help, without it, I would never have succeeded.

So I decided to beg on my knees. Basically, they were good people, they could understand my limits, as if nothing had happened.

In that moment, if one of them had offered his hand to me, I think I would have burst into tears.

They laughed and giggled instead.

They shouldn’t have done it, I had lost my nerve only for a moment.

I was just looking for a little help and a bit of understanding. Just the relief they were now exchanging eachother with hugs and strokes.

They tried to stroke me one after the other.

I refused.

It was not their pity that I needed!

I could manage perfectly well by myself. They were not much better than me.

Now, they became aware of having offended me and wanted to remedy.

The one who had first mocked me, now, wanted to teach me to move in their strange way. He was insisting!

I think that he wanted me to understand that he had changed his mind about me. Maybe I could forgive him. It’s useless to get stuck on your positions after all.

Fine! This time I would have seconded him.

I moved in his same way.

I made a mistake! But this time he did not shout at me. He went on and so did I. I was getting better and I think the others were realizing it, because they came next to me one after the other, some to make me to understand how I had to move my foot, some to show me how to put my hand and so on.

Meekly I accepted every advice, I did my best because I couldn’t disappoint them, now that they cared about in me.

Very soon my illusion crumbled. Everything turned out to be useless and my inability was now clear. I wanted to disappear. I made myself tiny, shrinking on myself, while they were holding a meeting definitely about me.

I think I had become a social problem, against my will.

I felt helpless; tired. I waited with resignation for the time of my expulsion from the group.

Instead, the girl, who had tried to talk to me earlier, spoke; she made me understand that every problem was solved.

She repeated several times a gesture undoubtedly clear.

I understood.

They would have broken my legs.

I would have finally became one of them.

I was happy. I wouldn’t have had  anymore to worry about anything.

Carmen Rucci

Half Apulian and half Sicilian: Italian writer, barrister, television critic for NHK World and, above all, the author of All In One Year, the contemporary and funny novel set on the magical Isle of Man.

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