Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Invisible

Midnight had come and gone to the city crouching around a sprawling lake. The moon had tiptoed behind the mountain's back and spilled a bucket of light down the length of its spine. The summer night exhaled through open windows and onto people comfortably stretched out in their beds, painting the scene with sound. The garbage truck groaned into being from around the corner, ponderous and slow, like some huge, panting animal. It grew steadily louder until it reached the dumpsters huddled together near the five-story apartment building. It invited a carnival of noises. Its engine growled in a rasping voice, the dumpsters, brimming with garbage complained against being dragged so roughly, clanged on metal with metal as they were fastened on hooks, rattled with glass bottles as they regurgitated their insides into the truck. The hydraulics hissed in an urgent exhalation. No human voices were heard. The garbage men had either spent their words for the day, or else the night shift had robbed them of any desire to make conversation, projecting themselves already in bed, fast asleep like the people behind the windows. The entire scene was over as soon as it had begun. This nocturnal parade of sounds lasted no more than two minutes. The dumpsters were emptied and put back in their places. The bits of garbage that had fallen out on the street were carefully collected and fed to the ever-hungry maw of the truck, and with a loud snarl it lumbered towards the adjacent alley. Silence reclined over the landscape again, as if into an old, familiar hammock. The moon kept shining, unflinchingly, onto the spine of the mountain. The people, oblivious, slept on in their comfy beds. One thing however, clung to the air. The insults that P., his mind engulfed in alcoholic vapours, had flung into his wife's face like a slap in front of their two small children. His threats of leaving her, that it's only a matter of time, that he cannot stand her and that he's an idiot for putting up with her. This stain went unnoticed by the garbage men. And even if it had, they could never wash it clean.

Excellent translation by Ivan Petrovski

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