A Drama of Our Time part 3/4

A Drama of Our Time part 3/4

by Fernando Sorrentino
Translated from the Spanish by Michele Aynesworth

     Then I reasoned: "In the Green Guide there's a section where it's possible to use the telephone number to find out someone's name. I don't have a Green Guide. Large companies have the guide. Banks are large companies. Therefore banks have the guide. My friend Balbón works in a bank. Banks open at noon."

     I waited until 12:30 and called Balbón.

     "Oh, dear Fernando," he answered, "I'm overjoyed and comforted to hear your voice . . ."

     "Thanks, Balbón. But listen . . ."

     " . . . that voice of a young man with no cares or obligations, duties or responsibilities. Lucky you, dear Fernando, drifting along on the happy tide of life, not allowing external events to disturb your peace. Lucky you . . ."

     I can't prove it, but I beg to be believed: I swear Balbón exists and that, indeed, he talks like that and says that kind of thing.

     After having endowed me with such imaginary charms, he proceeded to portray himself — without giving me a chance to talk — as a sort of victim:

     "In contrast, I, the humble and negligible Balbón, carry on today, as I did yesterday and will tomorrow, and for centuries of centuries, dragging a heavy cartload of miseries and heartaches across this treacherous planet . . ."

     I had heard this story a thousand times.

     My mind wandered as I waited for the litany of complaints to reach an end. Then suddenly I heard:

     "It's been nice talking to you. Take care, now."

     And he hung up.

     Indignant, I called him back.

     "Che, Balbón!" I reproached him, "Why did you hang up?"

     "Ah," he said, "you wanted to tell me something?"

     "I want you to look in the Green Guide, see whose name corresponds to this telephone number . . ."

     "Hang on. I'm looking for my fountain pen, I hate to write with pencils or ballpoints."

     I was eaten up with impatience.

     Finally, after several minutes, he said, "That number belongs to one CASTELLUCCI, IRMA G. DE. Castellucci with double ell and double cee. But, why do you want to know?"

     "Thanks a lot, Balbón. I'll explain some other time. Bye now."

     Now at last: I had in my possession a powerful weapon. I dialed the girl's number.

     "Helloooowww!!" thundered the caveman.

     With no hesitation, but with sonorous and well-modulated voice, and even a certain peremptory note, I enunciated:

     "I'd like to speak to Se๑orita Castellucci, please."

     "Who's calling, se๑or?"

     This habit of asking who's calling gets my goat. To unnerve him I said, "This is Tiberades Heliogแbalo Asoarfasayafi."

     "But, se๑or!" he sputtered, "The Castelluccis haven't lived here for at least four years, se๑or! I get so many calls for the damned Castelluccis, se๑or!"

     "And if they don't live there any more, how come you asked me who's . . .?"

     I was cut off by a furious click. He hadn't even allowed this minimal protest against his despotic behavior. Well, I wasn't going to let him get away with it!

     Quick as a flash I dialed again.


     Enunciating slowly as if I were mentally deficient, I asked:

     "May I pwease tawk to da Castewussi famiwee?"

     "No you can't, se๑or! The Castellucis haven't lived here for at least five years, se๑or!"

Continue >>>A Drama of Our Time part 4/4

Furthur Part
A Drama of Our Time part 1/4
A Drama of Our Time part 2/4
A Drama of Our Time part 4/4

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