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It's snowing. Big flakes fall slow and solemn to transform the world into a single mass of confused white shapes, while the wind, with a soft murmur, spreads through the streets a scent of sweets, resin and mandarins. Hurried figures run toward their lair, towards a blazing fire, toward two open arms, and the noises of the city die down slowly in a muffled silence. It's more than ever on evenings like this that it becomes difficult to be alone.
A shadow passes through the large window illuminated by the dancing colored lights of the tree. It looks like a potbellied woman with a huge and deformed breast. Alba. Alba with the little Gianni tight in her arms. A slow and undulating gait, it's time to go to bye-byes. Close your eyes, baby, and let yourself go. It awaits you a warm bed, a tender kiss, a vain smile. Yes, it's hard to stay alone on a night like this.
Alba. She came into my life a little over one year ago, when winter was still approaching, and she’s gone out of it since a little less than a week, as it was agreed. With a single, disastrous variant: Gianni’s remained with her.
This is not how it had to be. But it happened, and now it’s late to go back, and it’s late to try again, and it’s late to...
But it's so hard to stay alone on a night like this.
That day, the wind had fun to scramble dead leaves, as I was entering the hospital. Appropriate signs showed me the way, so I managed to extricate myself in a maze of corridors and reach the ward. I gave the name to a sullen nurse, and she pointed out to me a girl, sitting on a bed in the center of the large dorm, staring into the void. Is that the look of a killer?
I lingered to study her for a moment before getting close. It was obviously visiting hours, and her place was the only one not to be surrounded by a small knot of people. Slender, not very high, long, slightly wavy, blonde hair, a sweet, more than beautiful, face. I tried to imagine it contracted in a grimace of pleasure at the climax, but the result was something grotesque. It’s strange how it is easy to forget how a creature with an angel face could also have a body yearning to be touched, tight, possessed. Strange as this may seem absurd, and repugnant, when the arms encircling it are those of another person, and how it is easy, instead, and natural, to enjoy its cravings when the lips that are placed above it are your own.
- Miss Magone? - I asked in a low voice when I got near her. Only then she noticed my presence. She raised her eyes, looked at me, and lowered her head, hesitant, in a nod of agreement.
- My name is Rossi. Giorgio Rossi - the "Giorgio" was a touch of originality, to repair in part the stupid obviousness of the surname. It’s amazing, when you give a fake name, how it’s instinctive to resort to the usual "Rossi". It’s a classic, like "Smith" in America: who knows, in the end, if there is someone really called so? – I’d need to talk to you a few minutes, do you mind? No, I'm not a doctor.
- Do you know me? I'm sorry, but I can't remember...
- You can’t. We never met before, and I myself know of your existence for less than twenty-four hours. I asked for information... I hope you don’t feel hurt by this, and in any case I'll never mention the name of the person that provided me with that.
- Information? But… what does it mean? – she seemed dazed.
- I would offer you a... deal, if I can call it so.
- What kind of deal?
- You’re pregnant, not married, the man who put you in trouble has disappeared without a trace, and you’ve come here to abort the child you have in your lap. Correct me if I'm wrong.
- It is so. But who are you, what do you want? Why do you care about me?
- I need you. Or rather - I specified in one breath - I need your son. I want your son.
She stiffened, and looked at me agape. - What did you say?
- You’re here to kill him. If you won’t, and you'll give him birth for me, there will be three hundred thousand euros for you. On my own terms.
- Three hundred thousand euros? – she stammered. - For... Are you kidding me?
- I'm making a business proposal, nothing more, nothing less. You don’t want to, or can't, keep this child. I need them. I'm just suggesting you an alternative way to get rid of them. We can agree. Three hundred thousand euros are only a first offer; if you think it's not sufficient you can ask for more. The price is a detail without importance.
- The price? But do you realize what you're saying? You're talking about buying a child as if they were a suit. What are you, a monster?