Thursday, March 24, 2011

Silent neighbours

Someone has broken the wing mirror on our car. It happened yesterday between 4.30 and 5.30, because I went out at 4.30 with bambino and it was fine and my in-laws were out on the street at that time too as they were heading to the restaurant. Bambino and I came back from our stroll at 5.30 and the mirror was broken. I looked up and down the street: the builders who are working on a dilapidated building just down the street were gone – and wouldn’t admit to seeing anything anyway. I scan the neighbours’ windows, because you can bet your life that someone will have seen what happened, but not a stir behind the craftily angled shutters. I look down the street – the cars parked in front of ours all have their mirrors pointed out, except one car which has turned it inwards for safety. There is plenty of space to get past where we are parked though, and even if another car had been parked opposite ours there would have been space. My sister in law is convinced it was the Pazzo, the madman on the street, who hates their family. A repressed gay, she says, and also not right in the head. He came back after a few years in Rome and was never the same. Dangerous, she says darkly. If her father ever leaves the car parked near his house she moves it, she says and always turns the outside wing mirror inwards. They believe it is he who is scratching all our cars. Every few days a new scratch – the kind of deliberate scoring you do with a key – appears on our car, but overnight, not in the broad daylight. My next-door neighbour, a large housebound woman due to hip problems, is permanently sitting at the window, but no sign of her today. Another doting old man who walks the street wrapped up as if for snow in the warm spring days, has every day the same question – is it a bambino or bambina ? He then smiles at my buggy, and then forgets that it is a bambino. And wishes me buongiorno, adding that good manners are important. He’s nowhere to be seen. The suspect and his two side kicks, Walrus (beer gut and long whiskers) and Hunger (the thinnest palest creature in Sicily) are of course absent from their usual meeting spot opposite the dilapidated building. Who am I kidding? Even if anyone had seen what happened, they wouldn’t say.

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