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Ugo Spanglieri. The seventeen lives of Nizzi Vedora. Guido Mazetti editore S.p.A., Milano, 1988. Excerpt of Chapter 1.

In the taxi that took her to the airport, Nizzi Vedora could not remember the reason why she had just walked out on her husband.It was certainly a sound, sincere, indisputable reason. She could still feel its logic sizzle in her brain, though the details were lost. And where did she go anyway, with all these bags and suitcases, speeding through a city she could not even make out? This was one grey urban sprawl, made of tightly woven concrete threads. The signs were neutral, pointing to unknown, though familiar, places, with names written in a language that she could at least understand. She needed a pretext for asking questions to the driver without making a fool of herself. The man was a foreigner, and his official taxi badge spelled one of these indecipherable alien names, replete with and other non-conventional letters. He had not uttered a word since he picked her up at the hotel. He probably had difficulties in speaking the language. And he was driving way too fast. Nizzi Vedora went out alone on her own fishing expedition, searching for king-size memories of her past. She brought back her name (but Nizzi was short forwhat ?), her age (47 years), her sex (female) and a useless collection of unmatched bytes about her clothes, her luggage and the anonymous figure of a husband, abandoned in an hotel room.

Bad weather here, OK ? Better where you go? You go where? This was actually talking to her ! She had to ad-lib a coherent story. To France, she said. Ah, France good, worked much in France, cleaning, horses, fishing too, odd jobs, but them deport me, so me come here. France good, but taxi here better.This man, Nizzi thought, has better memories than I have. Time for revenge. And where are you from?, she asked. was silent, and then laughed. Oh, question difficult, ask father and mother if you find them. Come from all over the place, here, there, everywhere. World is mine. Me belong to nobody, nowhere. Taxi today, tomorrow other life. started to change lanes. You're a lucky man, she said, but most people cannot have a life change just like that. They have charges, constraints ,you understand these words? She was both intrigued and irritated by theturn of the conversation. This led nowhere. cut in just in front of a bus, setting off a choir of angry honks. Constraints? Don't know about constraints. Nobody constraint. Everybody free, he said. Dime novel philosophy, she thought. He added, You don't know who you are, you no identity, you free ! Then he realised that the truck before him was a obstacle to his own freedom as a driver, and pulled out again. He forgot that rear-view mirror thing, and a station wagon in the process of overtaking them crashed into the taxi's offside wing, sending the car flying across the right lane, through the safety railing, neatly chopping down a coven of mischievously plotting road signs. The taxi tumbled down a corn field, where it rolled over acouple of times. Nizzi Vedora closed her eyes.

She opened them again in a standard sky blue hospital room. Her body hurt, but she could wiggle her toes. An hour crept by.

A nurse came in, with a nurse's wholesome smile on her face. You're awake now, Mrs Muirfoot? The doctor will see you soon. You were lucky, you know that? After such an accident, you have only two broken ribs. We keep you under observation for a few days, and then you'll gohome. Mrs who? What about the driver? Is he all right too , asked Nizzi Vedora, whose name was now Mrs Sara Muirfoot. What driver?, the nurse said. You were all alone in that car, don't you remember?

Gilles Tran © 2001 www.oyonale.com