"The boy of Sasso di Castalda"

(To Axel)

There were a few frames. Those who came back when less expected. It had been a long time, but every now and then everything stopped and those frames came back.


That day was not like everyone else, they would tell him if he could go back to service; it was months that he dressed in bourgeois, and he seemed very familiar to him. He had been asking for a long time, whenever a doctor visited him, if he could come back, but it was too many months to receive evasive responses, which then translate into a convalescent sheet that extended that punishment.

At one point a physician told him, in one of the tax visits to which he had to periodically submit, that this question seemed to him very unfamiliar, because he was accustomed to feeling that he always asked to prolong somehow the convalescence; he would have liked to help him, but he also had to protect his shoulders and let another time pass that nothing would have happened until the next visit, where everything was repeated and everything remained the same.

He had discovered this world that until then had remained impervious to him, a world of suffering people for real, who sometimes passed away the pain of living through the suffering caused by the life he was doing; people who wanted to avoid, but who every now and then had to meet in those days of suffering in which he waited for a response that would alleviate his life.


The return was mild. A fairly quiet journey with a stopover to take "the tactics", as they called it, and end the journey. By now he was used to it, he looked at those who looked out for the first time and thought about himself when he was in a position to not know all the history that would have expected him. Now that journey had become familiar to him and he felt closer to places, people, objects. It had been a fairly short license, to break those months, to forget a few people for some time, so as not to lose the habit of talking with the women he had met, to find again his family members who welcomed him with great parties, but from which he wanted to escape because of the too much love they gave him; after a few days he wanted to be alone.


He remembered as a light that took away from him the lynx of Bergamini; he stood before him a second before, then he disappeared. He was a capomacchina on what followed, it was fifty meters, perhaps less, it seemed impossible to him not to see it so suddenly; he had not even heard the explosion, all the attention was to see out if something could happen, if a car came between the two vehicles, if some kid threw himself in the middle with his bicycle. It was a safe road until then, there had been no bombs or attacks in recent months, and the routine continued as usual. They shuttled between the base and the airport, on a two-lane roadway always busy with minibuses, Toyota Corolla, carts, white dust, stores that exposed merchandise, people who looked at them badly, children who went to school.

There was always someone who came back from the license, or had to go to the airport to leave, documents to be handed over to the employee's command. It was nothing challenging, Marshal Bergamini was responsible for the core and he felt calm, trusted in what he ordered and how he handled the dependents. He was the deputy with the rank of sergeant, now he was old enough, and wanted to see if he could become an officer, it would not have been easy, even though the General had told him to be confident.


When he received the sheet he read that he was judged fit, a shudder passed him from head to toe, and he thought the General had probably made a few calls this time. Even though he had spent time, he had perhaps remembered him, and had followed him after that episode. Of course at this time he could forget to ask for official passage, but enough to think he was alive and was coming back.

He arrived early enough, it was August and the roads were free, at home all told him they were happy, but they could see that they were up to a point; perhaps they also hoped for an extension of convalescence, as if to divert a future he did not like.

After graduation they had not yet figured out how he had made a claim to make the soldier; He had told him that it was only a year, as when military service was compulsory and the lever was a pain, as he heard from the stories of the bigger; then he had continued, it was not difficult to make the soldier. He stayed a few years to make the soldier, then met a commander who a day told him that he was content and that he could do something more. He passed the sergeant's contest and found himself transferred to another department where he was serious. He was right when that commander knew him when they sent him there for the command. Occasionally he still felt it; he was one who read inside people, he saw that he liked talking to men to get out of them what they did best. He had valorized many people, people who had been excluded from any perspective and were vegetating in the regiment, for past mistakes or because when they booed they did not change anything else, he had also collided with his direct commander and had paid them.

She met him another time and hugged him, perhaps he also had to go to him if he had not left the soldier.


The frame whistling in front of him was the moment he saw the Lynx in front of him, it was not possible that such a heavy vehicle could have been swept away like a feather. The driver of his vehicle managed to retreat immediately, went down and bent over to see if someone shot them with light weapons, he could not see where the Lynx of Bergamini was over, for now he had to think to secure that bubble where they were in the middle of the street. He saw her near the shreds of meat, a half-burnt tunic, a leg. The street was crowded with the usual unknowing people who were sacrificed to the case on every occasion like that. He had to put the others in place, he realized that his rally, the youngest of the team, was no longer in place, maybe he had come out of the trap for not offering too much shape and would find it around the vehicle, he did not even see the MINI in turret and calmed down a bit. Smell of burnt, roasted sweet meat, white powder, silence, no more on the street, just hoping to find a way out. He told the conductor to call the radio and communicate the position, they were not far from the base, maybe they were halfway away. He took the shotgun and a few drops of sweat from his eyes, maybe he was a tear, but he was not sure, he was looking for somebody through the viewfinder that might have aimed against him, he heard a short burst from the back of the Lince, it was Andrea firing in the air not too much to stop the machines that followed and which was better to be far away.

He did not yet see the lynx of Bergamini, he passed from the others who were already around the vehicle to see that they were not injured, the rally was missing, the boy from Sasso di Castalda, a distant village of Lucania. He had only recently found it and was growing it the way his former commander had done.

Three were around the vehicle, Sasso's little boy was not there. He thought with disappointment that he had become panicky and ran away, but whoever he was now, he needed his MINIMI. He still did not feel anything, he realized that he was screaming at the others to stay in place, he maybe went to see if Sasso's little boy was near, and he could even figure out the Lynx of Bergamini where he was.

He took a few steps back and saw a green pile. He was the kid of Sasso, his head flown far away for the explosion along with MINIMI. She knew now that she had tears in her eyes, no sweat. He did not have time to think too much, returned to the middle and told Vincent to go to retrieve Sasso's little boy, told him that he also had to search for his head that had flown away with all the helmet, maybe afterwards they would also look for MINIMI, and he noticed that Vincenzo opened his eyes too much, he did not want to understand that particular, but he shouted again to look his head.

He went this way in front of his vehicle to see where he was the Lynx of Bergamini. Someone on the edges of the road wanted to see what was going on but turned him back with a short burst in the air. He found forty yards a vortex on the roadside. There was only one hole, nothing else. Then he looked across the road to the opposite eyelid and slightly later saw a scrap, the Lince of Bergamini, were over thirty feet, crossed the two carriages and reached it. Inside they were all dead, the ralli had vanished, flew away like the boy of Sasso. The sheets were unnatural deformed. He did not even try to hope for someone wounded, put his hand over his eyes to wipe the tears that remained.


Usually, when he thought of it all, he was sweating and his hands were quick to move, as if to try to resume that habit of rowing, pointing the gun, shouting orders, hoping that the little boy in Sasso was curled somewhere crying with her MINIMI and wondering why she was there. But today he thought that today, when he returned to service, the tears he had felt had fallen on that face, covered with white powder, when he saw Bergamini deformed inside the Lince with all the others. Suddenly he felt a great repulsion toward his happiness to be able to return, he had shared with the dead of that day all his sufferings that he had followed to remind him that he was a survivor and nothing else. He could have been in the place of Bergamini, the case had protected him from death, as he had chose the others and all those civilians who were reduced to piles like the little boy of Sasso.


When he came back to the base, he noticed that he did not hear why he was telling him not to scream and to take off his helmet, to unload his rifle, to wash his face, but he did not want to do it because he felt the tears that had squashed on his face with dust. He was thirsty and did not want to take anything away from what he wore when he had not seen the Bergamini Lynx before him. It would mean turning the page, spending time, forgetting everything by changing clothes, getting rid of it; he did not even want to go to the field hospital, they even found a fracture on his wrist because he was hurt, maybe at the time of the explosion he had hit somewhere, but he had not noticed, at those times he only noticed tears fell under the helmet.


When they sent him home in convalescence he almost immediately summoned his ex-commander and told him he had done all he could, but he had been helpless when he saw the boy from Sasso and Bergamini and the others inside the Lince. They explain how to get out of danger situations, how to save your men, but in the face of the impotence of death you see do not tell you what you will, how will they react.

In that long period of rest, they began to heal the hearing and the wound. No one of those days caught sight of those tears that fell on the face with the dust, nor did they take into account the quick movements of their hands when it was overwhelming or the concentration they could not hold for a long time. He was crying alone at home, or when he was on Mussolini's canal bank, he ran and suddenly stopped sweating and panting and thought back at the moment that he disappeared before the Lynx of Bergamini.

When he went to find his former commander, they lived close enough, told him he was good and that he had just not been able to stay a soldier because he had behaved well, had told him, and he would deserve to go official. He also told him to be careful of the anguish of the soul because those scars did not leave easily. Then he thought of the tears of rappers that nobody had noticed that day, but who kept on screaming and trying to hide himself.


Giuliana had noticed everything. He did not even remember when Giovanni had been married, a cousin he had lost sight of for a long time. For family duty they had pulled him back; he had been convalescing for a while and the brothers told him that he must be there too, not far this time, and he would have done well to meet relatives and friends.

They met at the restaurant bar. She was waiting for his turn right behind him and at the moment there was no one else, the barman was slow to arrive because of the business that was for the wedding. He turned, saw her and greeted each other; then, to interrupt the silence, she asked him what branch of the family he was, to try and get to know the guests a little at a time. Then one had to try to remember the right surnames, in order not to make a mistake, to frame the branch of origin. He discovered that she was a relative of the bride and lived in the city. He was a little older than him. They began to talk, since the barman did not arrive, what they did in life and found himself having to choose the right words to explain what work he was doing. She had graduated from the conservatory in cello, and although she was now working at a notary's office she hoped to enter an orchestra.

When the bartender arrived he asked them as a discounted courtesy if they could take something together and set up at a nearby table. She was not married or engaged, it had been a while, but he did not want to intrude into the details of Giuliana's life because she might have to disguise her own.


He was about to pick a book from the bookshelf of a city library and felt instantly the instinct of turning to how he had done the day of that marriage; had already passed by the time but she called him by name, he recognized her and made a warm smile. After a few minutes of conversation about what they had done since the day they met, Giuliana told him he was curious about him in a particular way because he had seen him from afar as he seemed to be absorbed in the day thoughts, and moved his hands as if he wanted to give some indication or to deal with some of the tools while he was drying his face fast. The wedding day had not been so much of a case, but even today she had revisited the gaze of the book in her bookshelves, almost desperate and astonished, her hands moving quickly, as if she wanted to shout at people close to him. touch her face as fast as if to take away some tears, as if she saw something dear disappear, and then he shuffled the tears of powdery dust that day, embraced her, and began to sobbing on her chest.

2017 August