Translated by Rose Facchini
Uncle Lele watched the red sunset while smoking his mezzo toscano cigar. His partner from beyond the wooden porch appeared motionless in the afternoon sun. Cooled by a gentle breeze, she stirred and resumed her steady breathing.
Uncle Lele rocked in his old chair, spat on the ground, and closed his eyes.
Then he opened them again.
In front of him sitting on the fence was a man. You could see from his outfit that he was from the future — or that he was insane.
“Are you insane?” asked Lele, continuing to smoke.
“No, I’m from the future,” said the man.
“I bet.” Uncle Lele had seen just about everything during his seventy years in the countryside. Nothing surprised him anymore.
“This is the second time we’ve met,” murmured the future man, lowering his gaze. “I’m racked with guilt, man, forgive me!”
Uncle Lele looked at him without saying a word. He’d never seen him before. He continued to rock in his chair and smoke. Then he motioned with his chin as if to say go ahead, talk, I’m listening.
“The first time I’m going to meet you,” said the man, staring at him, “that is, tomorrow at the same time according to your timeline — but yesterday according to mine — I’m going to kill you!”
“Because you’ll threaten me with your old pistol.”
“And why’ll I threaten you?”
“Because tomorrow you’ll find out what I’m telling you now — that I’m going to murder you!” The future man was upset. “I don’t want it to happen, but it already did…”
“It already happened?” Uncle Lele spat on the ground again.
“It did for me. It’s part of my past, but your future.”
“You already killed me?”
“Yes,” the man put his hands over his face. “I didn’t want to, I swear! But yesterday — your tomorrow — I just appeared in front of you on this damned fence, then you pointed the pistol at my chest, ready to pull the trigger. I couldn’t help but defend myself and shoot.”
“You got a pistol, too?”
“Everyone in the future does, but it’s a laser one.”
“Lord,” breathed uncle Lele. “What a big mess.”
“The very fact that today I came here to excuse myself and beg forgiveness for something that’ll happen to you tomorrow — which happened yesterday for me — is what triggered the temporal loop we’re trapped in,” said the future man, “which is why you’ll die…”
“And there’s not a thing we can do to stop it?” asked Lele.
“Nothing!” yelled the man. “You can never cheat time like that!”
“You can’t cheat time, but you can cheat men.” Uncle Lele took his old pistol out from under his chair and pointed it at the man. “If I can’t kill you tomorrow, I’ll kill you today.”
Uncle Lele fired. The future man was shot in the heart. He slumped to the ground clutching a hand to his chest.
“No one’s ever bested Uncle Lele,” murmured Uncle Lele, watching the last red sunset of his life.
He started rocking in his chair again, spat on the ground, then closed his eyes and savored the sweet taste of revenge.
November 17th, 2023
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