When Olympus Vedora found out the truth about his wife, he flipped over.Literally speaking. He was sitting on the bed, a well-behaved husband, and she dropped the news on him, bluntly, like those shifty-eyed doctors who inform you that your soon-to-be-born child is likely to have an extra leg. Olympus had been brought up to take this kind a news "like aman". What was a man anyway? So he turned around, his face against a pillow, and started to cry, a fountain of a man. Nizzi Vedora watched him sob-sob-sobbing for a while, then she packed her few belongings and left, down the lift, to the ground level where an adipose and servile taxi driver held the door for her.
wondered who he was to follow: Olympus or Nizzi ? I told him that the choice was his. He chose Olympus, whose mental state puzzled him.
Olympus sobbed and sobbed until he heard the lift stop. He got up and looked out the window just in time to see the taxi lurch into the stream of traffic on Rexington Avenue, and loose itself in a wild carnival of dancing, blurry sparkles, a mixture of street lights, tears and smog. He looked around him.Nizzi was gone, she was no more than a coloured pixel in the real world, and yet she was here, on his skin, in his body, a living ghost in this hotel room. How fast she had withdrawn from his life, turning him into a deserted shore of dried kelp, bleached flotsam and messageless bottles. She had ebbed away, and would not return. Olympus saw a sheet of paper on the ground, and the print of Nizzi's slim, pretty and naked foot on it.
was growing restless. He asked me when he would step in. That was why he was there in the first place, wasn't it? I told him to wait. There were rules to play by. Olympus needed some time.
He wanted to go on, to pretend that she was still there, to mimic their previous life, up to the squabbles, silences, and acts of love. He tried for a few instants, obtaining nothing but crude parodies of yesterday. And there was something else. His own curiosity was gaining ground. What she confessed to him, what she had blurted out in his face, the cud he could now quietly chew in his own lofty way. So, during all these years, she... He took a long inventory of the clues, hints, double-entendres, the small white rocks she had been dropping behind her, and which he had been stumbling on instead of picking them up. Everything was clear, now. He would have shouted with joy at his own belated astuteness, but she was not there to praise him anymore.
Take the scarf affair, for instance. She had left it behind, a colourful silk one, blue and orange, unmistakably Nizzi's. He was now holding it on his face, breathing in the perfumed remanence of his wife. What remanence? There wasn't the slightest whiff of Nizzi's perfume on it. Nothing. He remembered thescarf, three years before. She had bought it during their trip to Bombay, this scarf and a booty of useless souvenirs that were still clogging their apartment. He remembered the barter, he who hated things that didn't have a price tag on it. He remembered his clumsiness with the thousand-rupee notes. He remembered they had been caught in a tornado of ochre dust, and that she had tied the scarf on her face. He remembered the many details, their clothes, what they said, how much they paid the taxi to go back to the hotel, and how she had untied the scarf, only to kiss him. Olympus hold the scarf in his hands, and examined every square inch of it, until he found the small label sewn on one edge and the first palpable evidence of his new reality.
Now?, said . Can I, now? I nodded him a go.
There was a knock at the door. Olympus Vedora checked his barely decent appearance. At least he had his pants on. He made a mental note about them. The door opened on a bellboy in a magnificent scarlet uniform with large goldens on the lapels, who reminded him that he was to leave his room at noon, so that the maids could prepare it for the next guest. Olympus told him that, as far as he was concerned, the game wasover. What game?, said. It's just a matter of letting the room to someone else, unless you want to keep it another night. You want to keep it ? No, no, Olympus said, I'm coming down in a minute. Just let me dress and pack my things. He closed the door in the bellboy's face and looked at the hem of his pants, inspected his socks, his shirts, and all the objects he could lay his hands on. All bore the small, unobtrusive label, Copyright © 1998. And it was also written on the inner side of his left calf, one cute little tattoo.
So it ends here?, asked. Olympus should be entitled to a second chance with Nizzi, don't you think? I pointed out to him that he had given the game within a few 858 words and that no fiction character would ever have the spunk to go on after such a blow. Olympus had said it loud and clear: the game was over.
Of course, Nizzi was still available for a sequel, ignorant and free from the truth...