The last photogram

Dilapidation processes are organized yieldings.
Emily Dickinson, 997

Luisa Gonzalez

“ The windowpanes shatters and an angel with splintered wings appears. He remains weightless for a while, and then he rises up gazing at the small town, its walls, further on from the castle, made of mist and snow. The mountains and the smoking volcano lay far away. A murky ocean surrounds everything. There’s a fire far, far away.
Slowly he descends
When the militia chased me away from everywhere, I was outcast to my brother’s chemists’ shop. One day Mario Cicarrelli turned up at the shop, a Canon perfume representative, before that, a university professor.
There’s Mario Ciccarelli, from Canon – I told my brother Roberto , who was snooping from the laboratory back room.
Roberto came up to the counter to greet the ex professor and ex journalist. They chatted for a while about politics in a casual way while Ciccarelly sharpened his pencil to take note of the order.
Roberto reminded him about the unflattering press release he had written. Cicarelli made fun of him saying that Roberto was supporting the Peronist right wing out of mental confusion.
Mario Ciccarelli had been very happy during university times, his intelligence surrounded him like a halo, he showed it off in bars where he truly held his chair but this paradise was short lived, just one year, hell became loose, false police groups would visit us with chains, iron bars and threats. That was the time when lecturers were discouraged with bombs that would explode at their doors.
After Perón’s death, breakdown speeded up. Isabel handed the fury of power onto Lopez Rega, the necromancer. He was granted an open way for murdering opponents to government from his Argentinian Anticommunist Alliance.
With Videla’s coup in March 1976, evil grew on, most of the lecturers and professors landed in different universities in Latin America and Europe but Mario stayed on devoted to developing that grey state of matters which we may call inner exile, that is, going unnoticed, talking as little as possible about politics and trying to keep revolutionary notions in some deep brain repository to survive.
When democracy came back, we returned to University like shadows, Mario recovered his chair but like a ghost.
Many of those who returned, bright revolutionaries in their days, were selling their ideological transvestism to political realism stepping on each other’s feet – as in super stores sales- to see who would get first to become “researchers” in Cepal, Oea, Unicef, Ford Foundation and other paying acronyms. From that standpoint they produced scores of toothless briefs – precision abandoned- reporting the obvious: Poverty; children’s poverty, education poverty, extreme illiteracy, crime and Latin America’s dependency on EEUU. With their papers and briefs condoned by their social democrat bosses and a cheque on its way, they went home to watch their favourite cable television program in their slippers, sprawling on their settees.
Mario chose to remain , wrapped in his gruesome jokes, in his pathetic Althusser and his film project: “Lencinas’ murder” in his mind.
From his chair in Sociology, Mario was becoming more of a bore and less of a charmer. He basked in the sun in the University swimming pool. He looked like an old and tired lion, lurking for his prey. When he found an adequate one, the predator stood up and launched his attack using his wit.
More seldom than often he would return, his prey in his claws to last him for a while, but most of the times he would suffer the brunt of being reckoned as a dirty old man, slobbering, pathetic.
His teaching became disastrous, his vocation focussed on consulting hours with girls not above 24, he would invite them for coffee in the centre and he would single out the one who went along with his chatting.
I learnt about what had happened to Mario through an offhand comment from a friend who assumed I knew. Mario suffered from Parkinson which affected his winsome ways.
He seldom left his house. Silane was among the few friends who visited him. He never saw a photogram of his alleged film except for drafts of a story board sketched on paper napkins from bars.
-He would tell me about a scene – Silanes said –I am game to spin a yarn and I would tell him to include one thing or another and we would engage in a visionary chat for three or four hours absolutely out of touch with surrounding reality (surrounding is a shitty word) I mean prevailing ( no, not this one either) , the reality of others, this is exactly what happened.
Silanes was one of the few people who noticed how ghostly Mario had become, how something was missing there. On the other hand Mario dreaded having his spirited away condition discovered; this is why he kept to his inner exile: walking the same streets, wearing the same face and smile, they didn’t know he was a ghost.
In the night of 18th November, Mario, like Peter Pan and having told no one, flies off from his window. He hasn’t been whisked away by the light holes some books talk about. He’s wearing his spectacles, his hair, his short sleeved shirts even in winter; in those moccasins of his with the silver buckles. There he is with his briefcase, his brown trousers, their bottoms tattered. Nobody can welcome him because Mario doesn’t know nothingness doesn’t exist.
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