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Cover: Elisabetta Rossi
Translation: Susan Allister
This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author.
Alessandro is confined to a wheelchair due to an invalidating illness, and his apartment window has his world: his favourite place where he can study and observe the lives of the other residents in his block of flats. A bloody murder disrupts the peaceful routine of Alessandro’s life and in his diary, a meticulous witness, he records every event, every one of his neighbours’ small gestures or habits. Inspector Barbieri involves him in his enquiries, convinced that his experience as a writer can help uncover the assassin, but the chronicle of a murder does not always mirror reality...
I used to write.
I wrote without realizing that the pages of my diary would have been the only witnesses to a crime.
Closed in my space, I wrote about the mechanic who used to leave the building with his blue overalls and walk to work to his garage.
I wrote about Teresa’s children, who when they were well would be accompanied by their mother to the bus stop to catch the yellow school bus.
I wrote about Anna, who every morning would hang candid white sheets from her bedroom window on the second floor, unless it was raining.
I wrote. It was my duty, a task and a necessity I had to immortalize the lives of the people who would have disappeared without leaving any memory if it weren’t for my testimony.
The words on the page replaced a video camera. Sentence after sentence was like passing from one frame to another, like a watchful eye fixed on the courtyard.
I wrote, until that morning of the 10th June when a lady came out of the block shouting, her hands covered in blood and her face full of fright.
“Call somebody, please, I’m begging”, she shouted, running into the courtyard. “My husband is on the floor, lying in a pool of blood”.
I recognized her when she turned my way, towards my window on the ground floor.
I’d seen her go out that morning. She had got into her white four wheel drive, parked badly as usual on the courtyard flowerbeds. Sometimes she even blocked the walkway.
Teresa had come out of the building opposite and was now beside her, while her husband Giovanni was speaking into his mobile phone.
I couldn’t hear what he was saying but his face was tense and serious.
In the meantime, attracted by the woman’s screams, more of the building’s inhabitants were meeting on the stairs inside the building, soon to invade the courtyard.
“What’s happened?” asked Salvatore, a pensioner who sometimes came to play cards with me.
“It’s my husband”, replied the woman, pointing at her flat on the top floor.
The ambulance arrived after just a few minutes, and the doctor immediately afterwards.
They ran up the stairs. I listened, but apart from the noise of their steps I couldn’t hear anything.
They came back down, slowly, and in the meantime the police had arrived too.
“He was on the floor, in the hallway of the flat”, Salvatore told me when he came to say what he had seen. “A knife stuck in his heart”, he added and then he took a breath. “He was lying in a pool of blood, the white shirt he was wearing was soaked in it. He looked like a bull, lying on his back, wounded by the banderillas”.
“So he is dead”, I said.