Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница

The brief but intense days of initial terror soon arrived. General Goded's troops set off along the Diagonal and Paseo de Gracia towards the centre, where the shooting began. It was a Sunday, and a lot of people had still come out onto the streets thinking they would spend the day picnicking along the road to Las Planas. The blackest days of the war in Barcelona, however, were still two years away. Shortly after the start of the skirmish, General Goded's troops surrendered, due to a miracle or to poor communication between the commanders. Lluis Companys's government seemed to Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница have regained control, but what really happened would become obvious in the next few weeks.

Barcelona had passed into the hands of the anarchist unions. After days of riots and street fighting, rumours began to circulate that the four rebel generals had been executed in Montjuic Castle shortly after the surrender. A friend of Miquel's, a British journalist who was present at the execution, said that the firing squad was made up of seven men but that at the last moment dozens of militiamen joined the party.

When they opened fire, the bodies were riddled with so Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница many bullets that they collapsed into unrecognizable pieces and had to be put into the coffins in an almost liquid state. There were those who wanted to believe that this was the end of the conflict, that the fascist troops would never reach Barcelona and the rebellion would be extinguished along the way.

We learned that Julian was in Barcelona on the day of Goded's surrender, when we received a letter from Irene Marceau in which she told us that Julian had killed Jorge Aldaya in a duel, in Pere Lachaise cemetery. Even before Aldaya had expired, an Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница anonymous call had alerted the police to the event. Julian was forced to flee from Paris immediately, pursued by the police, who wanted him for murder. We had no doubt as to who had made that call. We waited anxiously to hear from Julian so that we could warn him of the danger that stalked him and protect him from a worse trap than the one laid out for him by Fumero: the discovery of the truth. Three days later Julian still had not appeared. Miquel did not want to share his anxiety with me, but I knew perfectly well Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница what he was thinking. Julian had come back for Penelope, not for us.

'What will happen when he finds out the truth?' I kept asking.

'We'll make sure he doesn't,' Miquel would answer.

The first thing he was going to discover was that the Aldaya family had disappeared. He would not find many places where he could start looking for Penelope. We made a list, and began our own expedition. The mansion on Avenida del Tibidabo was just an empty property, locked away behind chains and veils of ivy. A flower vendor, who sold bunches Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница of roses and carnations on the opposite corner, said he only remembered seeing one person approaching the house recently, but that was almost an old man, with a bit of a limp.

'Frankly, he seemed pretty nasty. I tried to sell him a carnation for his lapel, and he told me to piss off, saying there was a war on and it was no time for flowers.'

He hadn't seen anyone else. Miquel bought some withered roses from him and, just in case, gave him the phone number of the editorial department at the Diario de Barcelona. The man Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница could leave a message there if, by chance, anyone should turn up looking like the person we'd described. Our next stop was San Gabriel's, where Miquel met up with Fernando Ramos, his old school companion.

Fernando was now a Latin and Greek teacher and had been ordained a priest. His heart sank when he saw Miquel looking so frail. He told us Julian had not come to see him, but he promised to get in touch with us if he did, and would try to hold him back. Fumero had been there before us, he confessed Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница with alarm, and had told him that, in times of war, he'd do well to be careful.

'He said a lot of people were going to die very soon, and uniforms -soldiers' or priests' - would be no defence against the bullets. . . .'

Fernando Ramos admitted that it wasn't clear which unit or group Fumero belonged to, and he hadn't wanted to ask him either. I find it impossible to describe to you those first days of the war in Barcelona, Daniel. The air seemed poisoned with fear and hatred. People eyed one another suspiciously, and the Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница streets held a silence that put knots in your stomach. Every day, every hour, fresh rumours and gossip circulated. I remember one night when Miquel and I were walking home down the Ramblas. They were completely deserted. Miquel looked at the buildings, glimpsing faces hidden behind closed shutters, noticing how they scanned the shadows of the street. He said he could feel the knives being sharpened behind those walls.



The following day we went to the Fortuny hat shop, without much hope of finding Julian there. One of the residents in the building told us that the hatter was Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница terrified by the upheavals of the last few days and had locked himself up in the shop. No matter how much we knocked, he wouldn't open the door. That afternoon there had been a shoot-out only a block away, and the pools of blood were still fresh on the pavement. A dead horse still lay there, at the mercy of stray dogs that were tearing open its bullet-ridden stomach, while a group of children watched and threw stones at them. We only managed to see the hatter's frightened face though the grille of the door. We told Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница him we were looking for his son, Julian. The hatter replied that his son was dead and told us to leave or he'd call the police. We left the place feeling disheartened.

For days we scoured cafes and shops, asking for Julian. We made inquiries in hotels and pensiones, in railway stations, in banks where he might have gone to change money - nobody remembered a man fitting Julian's description. We feared that he might already have fallen into Fumero's clutches, and Miquel managed to get one of his colleagues from the newspaper, who had contacts in Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница Police Headquarters, to find out whether Julian had been put in jail. There was no sign of him. Two weeks went by, and it looked as if Julian had vanished into thin air.

Miquel hardly slept, hoping for news of his friend. One evening he returned from his usual afternoon walk with a bottle of port, of all things. The newspaper staff had presented it to him, he said, because he'd been told by the subeditor that they were going to have to cancel his column.

'They don't want trouble, I understand.'

'And what are you Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница going to do?'

'Get drunk, for a start.'

Miquel drank barely half a glass, but I finished off almost the entire bottle on an empty stomach without noticing it. Around midnight, I was overpowered by drowsiness and collapsed on the sofa. I dreamed that Miquel was kissing my forehead and covering me with a shawl. When I woke up, I felt a sharp, stabbing pain in my head, which I recognized as the prelude to a fierce hangover. I went to look for Miquel, to curse the hour when he'd had the bright idea of getting me drunk Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница, but I realized I was alone in the apartment. I went over to the desk and saw that there was a note on the typewriter in which he asked me not to be alarmed and to wait for him there. He'd gone out in search of Julian and would soon bring him home. He ended the note by saying that he loved me. The note fell from my hands. Then I noticed that before leaving, Miquel had removed his things from the desk, as if he wasn't planning to use it anymore. I knew that I Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница would never see him again.

That afternoon the flower vendor had called the offices of the Diario de Barcelona and left a message for Miquel saying he'd seen the man we had described to him prowling around the old mansion like a ghost. It was past midnight when Miquel reached number 32, Avenida del Tibidabo. At night, the place was a dark, deserted valley struck by darts of moonlight that filtered through the grove. Although he hadn't seen him for seventeen years, Miquel recognized Julian by his light, almost catlike walk as his silhouette glided through the shadows of the garden Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница, near the fountain. Julian had jumped over the garden wall and lay in wait by the house like a restless animal. Miquel could have called out to him, but he preferred not to alert any possible witnesses. He felt that furtive eyes were spying on the avenue from the dark windows of neighbouring mansions. He walked round the walls of the estate until he reached the part by the old tennis courts and the coach houses.

There he noticed the crevices in the wall that Julian must have used as steps, and the flagstones that had come Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница loose on the top. He lifted himself up, almost out of breath, feeling an acute pain in his chest and experiencing periodic waves of blindness. He lay down on the wall, his hands shaking, and called Julian in a whisper. The silhouette that hovered by the fountain stood still, joining the rest of the statues. Miquel saw two shining eyes fixing on him. He wondered whether Julian would recognize him, after seventeen years and an illness that had taken away his very breath. The silhouette slowly came closer, wielding a long, shiny object in his right hand. A piece of Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница glass.

'Julian . . .' Miquel murmured.

The figure stopped in its tracks. Miquel heard the piece of glass fall on the gravel. Julian's face emerged from the shadows. A two-week stubble covered his features, which were sharper than they used to be.

'Miquel?'

Unable to jump down to the other side, or even climb back to the street, Miquel held out his hand. Julian hauled himself onto the wall and, holding his friend's fist tightly with one hand, laid the palm of his other hand on his face. They gazed silently at one another for a Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница long time, each sensing the wounds life had inflicted on the other.

'We must leave this place, Julian. Fumero is looking for you. That business with Aldaya was a trap.'

'I know,' murmured Carax in a monotone.

'The house is locked. Nobody has lived here for years,' Miquel added. 'Come on, help me down, and let's get out of here.'

Carax climbed down the wall. When he clutched Miquel with both hands, he could feel his friend's wasted body under the loose clothes. There seemed to be no flesh or muscle left. Once they were on the other side Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница, Carax gripped Miquel by the armpits, so that he was almost carrying him, and they walked off together into the darkness of Calle Roman Macaya.

'What is wrong with you?' whispered Carax.

'It's nothing. Some fever. I'm getting better.'

Miquel already gave off the smell of illness, and Julian asked no further questions. They went down Leon XIII until they reached Paseo de San Gervasio, where they saw the lights of a cafe. They sought refuge at a table at the back of the room, away from the entrance and the windows. A couple of regulars sat Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница at the bar, smoking cigarettes and listening to the radio. The waiter, a man with a waxy pallor and downcast eyes, took their order. Warm brandy, coffee, and whatever food was available.

Miquel didn't eat at all. Carax, obviously starving, ate for both of them. The two friends looked at each other in the sticky light of the cafe, spellbound. The last time they had seen each other face-to-face, they were half the age they were now. They had parted as boys, and now life presented one of them with a fugitive and the other with a Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница dying man. Both wondered whether this was due to the cards they'd been dealt or to the way they had played them.

'I've never thanked you for everything you've done for me over the years, Miquel.'

'Don't begin now. I did what I had to do and what I wanted to do. There's nothing to thank me for.'

'How's Nuria?'

'The same as you left her.'

Carax looked down.

'We got married months ago. I don't know whether she wrote to tell you.'

Carax's lips froze, and he shook his Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница head slowly.

'You have no right to reproach her for anything, Julian.'

'I know. I have no right to anything.'

'Why didn't you come to us for help, Julian?'

'I didn't want to get you into trouble.'

'That is out of your hands now. Where have you been all this time? We thought the ground had swallowed you.'

'Almost. I've been at home. In my father's apartment.'

Miquel stared at him in amazement. Julian went on to explain how, when he arrived in Barcelona, unsure of where to go, he had set off towards his childhood Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница home, fearing there would be nobody left there. The doors of the hat shop were still open, and an old-looking man, with no hair and no fire in his eyes, languished behind the counter. Julian hadn't wanted to go in, or let him know he'd returned, but Antoni Fortuny had raised his eyes and looked at the stranger on the other side of the window. Their eyes met. Much as Julian wanted to run away, he was paralysed. He saw tears welling up in the hatter's eyes, saw him drag himself to the Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница door and come out into the street, speechless. Without uttering a word, he led his son into the shop and pulled down the metal grille. Once the outer world had been sealed off, he embraced him, trembling and howling with grief.

Later the hatter explained that the police had been round asking after Julian two days earlier. Someone called Fumero - a man with a bad reputation, who had supposedly been in the pay of General Goded's fascist thugs only a month before and was now making out he was friends with the anarchists - had told him that Julian Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница Carax was on his way to Barcelona, that he'd cold-bloodedly murdered Jorge Aldaya in Paris, and that he was sought for a number of other crimes, a catalogue that the hatter didn't bother to listen to. Fumero trusted that, if by some remote and improbable chance his prodigal son made an appearance, the hatter would see fit to do his duty as a citizen and report him. Fortuny told Fumero that of course he could count on his help, though secretly it irritated him that a snake like Fumero should assume him to be so base Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница. No sooner had the sinister cortege left the shop than the hatter set off towards the cathedral chapel where he had first met Sophie. There he prayed to his saint, begging him to guide his son back home before it was too late. Now that Julian had arrived, he warned him of the danger that awaited him.

'Whatever has brought you to Barcelona, son, let me do it for you while you hide in the apartment. Your room is just as you left it and it's yours for however long you may need it.'

Julian admitted that he'd Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница returned to look for Penelope Aldaya. The hatter swore he would find her and that, once they had been reunited, he would help them both to flee to a safe place, far from Fumero, far from the past, far from everything.

For days Julian hid in the apartment in Ronda de San Antonio while the hatter combed the city looking for some sign of Penelope. Julian spent the days in his old room, which, as his father had promised, was unchanged, though now everything seemed smaller, as if objects had shrunk with time. Many of his old notebooks were still Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница there, pencils he remembered sharpening the week he left for Paris, books waiting to be read, the boy's clean clothes in the cupboards. The hatter told Julian that Sophie had left him shortly after his escape, and although for years he didn't hear from her, she wrote to him at last from Bogota, where she had been living for some time with another man. They corresponded regularly, 'always talking about you,' the hatter admitted, 'because it's the only thing that binds us.' When he spoke those words, it seemed to Julian that the Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница hatter had put off falling in love with his wife until he had already lost her.

'You only love truly once in a lifetime, Julian, even if you aren't always aware of it.'

The hatter, who seemed to be caught in a race against time to disentangle a whole life of misfortune, had no doubt that Penelope was that love of his son's life. Without realizing it, he thought that if he helped Julian recover her, perhaps he, too, would recover some part of what he had lost, that void that weighed on his bones like a curse.

Despite Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница his determination, and much to his despair, the hatter soon discovered that there was no trace of Penelope Aldaya, or of her family, in the whole of Barcelona. A man of humble origins who had had to work all his life to stay solvent, the hatter had never doubted the staying power of money and social station, but fifteen years of ruin and destitution had been sufficient to remove mansions, industries, the very footprints of a dynasty from the face of the earth. When the name Aldaya was mentioned, there were many who had heard of it but very Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница few who remembered its significance.

The day Miquel Moliner and I went to the hat shop and asked after Julian, the hatter was certain we were two of Fumero's henchmen. Nobody was going to snatch his son away from him again. This time God Almighty could descend from the heavens, the same God who had spent His whole life ignoring the hatter's prayers, and Fortuny would gladly have pulled His eyes out if He dared take Julian away again.

The hatter was the man whom the flower vendor remembered seeing a few days before, prowling around Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница the Aldaya mansion. What the flower vendor interpreted as 'pretty nasty' was only the intensity that comes to those who, better late than never, have found a purpose in life and are pursuing it to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, the Lord once again disregarded the hatter's pleadings. Having crossed the threshold of despair, the old man was still unable to find what he needed for his son's salvation, for his own salvation: some sign of the girl. How many lost souls do You need, Lord, to satisfy Your hunger? the hatter asked. God, in His infinite Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница silence, looked at him without blinking.

'I can't find her, Julian. ... I swear that—'

'Don't worry, Father. This is something I must do. You've already helped me as much as you could.'

That night Julian at last went out into the streets of Barcelona, determined to find Penelope.

As Miquel listened to his friend's tale, it did not occur to him to be suspicious of the waiter when he went over to the telephone and mumbled something with his back to them or, later, when he surreptitiously kept an eye on the door, wiping glasses Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница too thoroughly for an establishment where dirt was otherwise so at home. It didn't occur to him that Fumero would already have been in that cafe, and in dozens of cafes like it, a stone's throw from the Aldaya mansion; that as soon as Carax set foot in any one of them, the call would be placed in a matter of seconds. When the police car stopped in front of the cafe and the waiter disappeared into the kitchen, Miquel felt the cold and serene stillness of fate. Carax read his eyes, and they both turned at the Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница same time to see three grey raincoats flapping behind the windows, three faces blowing steam onto the windowpane. None of them was Fumero. The vultures preceded him.

'Let's leave this place, Julian.

'There's nowhere to go,' said Carax, with an oddly calm tone of voice that made his friend eye him carefully.

It was only then that Miquel noticed the revolver in Julian's hand. The doorbell sounded above the murmur of the radio. Miquel snatched the gun from Carax's hands and fixed his eyes on him.

'Give me your papers, Julian.'

The three Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница policemen pretended to sit at the bar. One of them gave Miquel and Julian a sidelong glance. The other two felt inside their raincoats.

'Your papers, Julian. Now.'

Carax silently shook his head.

'I have only a month left, perhaps two, with luck. One of us has to get out of here, Julian. You have more going for you than I do. I don't know whether you'll find Penelope. But Nuria is waiting for you.'

'Nuria is your wife.'

'Remember the deal we made. The day I die, all that was once mine will be yours. . . .'

'. . . Except your dreams Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница.'

They smiled at one another for the last time. Julian handed him his passport. Miquel put it next to the copy of The Shadow of the Wind that he had been carrying in his coat pocket since the day he'd received it.

'See you soon,' Julian whispered.

'There's no hurry. I'll be waiting.'

Just as the three policemen turned towards them, Miquel rose from the table and went up to them. At first all they saw was a pale, tremulous man who seemed to be at death's door as he smiled at Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница them, blood showing on the corners of his thin, lifeless lips. By the time they noticed the gun in his right hand, Miquel was barely three yards away from them. One of them was about to scream, but the first shot blew off his lower jaw. The body fell on its knees at Miquel's feet, lifeless. The other two police officers had already drawn their weapons. The second shot went through the stomach of the one who looked older, the bullet snapping his backbone in two and splattering a handful of guts against the bar. Miquel never had time Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница to fire a third shot. The remaining policeman was already pointing his gun at him. He felt it in his ribs, on his heart, and saw the man's steely eyes, lit up with panic. 'Stand still, you son of a bitch, or I swear I'll tear you apart.' Miquel smiled and slowly raised his gun towards the policeman's face. The man couldn't have been more than twenty-five, and his lips trembled.

'You tell Fumero, from Carax, that I remember his little sailor suit.' He felt no pain, no fire. The impact, like a muffled blow Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница, threw him into the window, extinguishing the sound and colour of things. As he crashed through the pane, he noticed an intense cold creeping down his throat and the light receding like dust in the wind. Miquel Moliner turned his head for the last time and saw his friend Julian running down the street. Miquel was thirty-six years old, which was longer than he'd hoped to live. Before he collapsed onto a pavement strewn with bloodstained glass, he was already dead.

That night an unidentified van arrived in response to the call from the policeman who Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница had killed Miquel. I never knew his name, nor do I think he realized whom he had murdered. Like all wars, private or public, that one was like a stage show. Two men carried off the bodies of the dead policemen and made sure the manager of the bar understood that he must forget what had happened or there would be trouble. Never underestimate the talent for forgetting that wars awaken, Daniel. Miquel Moliner's corpse was abandoned in an alleyway of the Raval quarter twelve hours later, so that his death could not be connected to that of the two Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница police officers. When the body finally arrived at the morgue, it had been dead for two days. Miquel had left his own papers at home before going out. All the employees at the morgue could find was a disfigured passport in the name of Julian Carax, and a copy of The Shadow of the Wind. The police concluded that the deceased man was Julian Carax. The passport still gave his address as Fortuny's apartment in Ronda de San Antonio.

By then the news had reached Fumero, who went along to the morgue to bid farewell to Julian. There Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница he met the hatter, whom the police had fetched to identify the body. Senor Fortuny, who hadn't seen Julian for two days, feared the worst. When he recognized the body as that of the man who had knocked on his door only a week earlier, asking after Julian (and whom he'd taken to be one of Fumero's henchmen), he began to scream and left. The police took this response to mean he recognized the corpse. Fumero, who had witnessed the scene, went up to the body and inspected it silently. He hadn't seen Julian for Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница seventeen years. When he recognized Miquel Moliner, all he did was smile and sign the forensic report confirming that the body in question was Julian Carax. He then ordered its immediate removal to a common grave in Montjuic.

For a long time, I wondered why Fumero would do something like that. But that was simply Fumero's logic. By dying with Julian's identity, Miquel had involuntarily provided Fumero with the perfect alibi. From that moment on, Julian Carax didn't exist. There would be no official link between Fumero and the man who, sooner or later Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница, he hoped to find and murder. It was wartime, and few would ask for explanations concerning the death of someone who didn't even have a name. Julian had lost his identity. He was a shadow. I spent two days in the apartment waiting for Miquel or Julian, thinking I was going mad. On the third day, Monday, I went back to work at the publishing firm. Senor Cabestany had been taken into hospital a few weeks previously, and would not be returning to the office. His eldest son, Alvaro, had taken over the business. I didn't say anything to Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница anyone. There was nobody I could turn to.

That same afternoon I received a call from an employee at the morgue, Manuel Gutierrez Fonseca. Senor Gutierrez Fonseca explained that the body of someone called Julian Carax had been brought into the morgue. Having compared the deceased man's passport with the name of the author of the book that was on the body when it arrived, and suspecting, moreover, if not a breach in the rules, a certain laxity on the part of the police, he had felt it his moral duty to call the publishers and inform them Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница of what had happened. As I listened to him, I almost died. The first thing I thought was that it was a trap set up by Fumero. Senor Gutierrez Fonseca expressed himself with the correct tones of a conscientious public official, although there was something else in his voice, something that even he would not have been able to explain. I had taken the call in Cabestany's office. Thank God, Alvaro had gone out for lunch and I was alone, otherwise it would have been difficult for me to explain away my tears and the shaking Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница of my hands as I held the telephone. Senor Gutierrez Fonseca told me he had thought it appropriate to let me know what had happened.

I thanked him for his call with the false formality of all such conversations. As soon as I put down the receiver, I closed the office door and bit my fists so as not to scream. I washed my face and left for home immediately, leaving a message for Alvaro to say I was unwell and would return the following day earlier than usual, to catch up with correspondence. In the street, I Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница had to make an effort not to run, to walk with the anonymous grey calm of people who have nothing to hide. When I inserted the key in the apartment door, I realized that the lock had been forced. I froze. The doorknob began to turn from within. I wondered whether I was going to die like this, in a dark staircase, and without knowing what had become of Miquel. The door opened, and I encountered the dark eyes of Julian Carax. May God forgive me, but at that moment I felt that life was returning to me, and I Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница thanked the heavens for giving me back Julian instead of Miquel.

We melted in a long embrace, but when I searched for his lips, Julian moved away and lowered his eyes. I closed the door and, taking Julian's hand, led him to the bedroom. We lay together on the bed in silence. Evening was closing in, and the shadows of the apartment were fringed with purple. As on every night since the start of the war, shots could be heard in the distance. Julian was crying as he lay on my chest, and I felt a tiredness beyond Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница words. Later, once night had fallen, our lips met, and in the shelter of that pressing darkness, we removed our clothes, which smelled of fear and of death. I wanted to remember Miquel, but the fire of those hands on my stomach stole all my shame and grief. I wanted to lose myself in them, even though I knew that at dawn, exhausted and perhaps overcome by contempt for ourselves, we would be unable to look each other in the eye without wondering what sort of people we had become.

I was woken by the pitter-patter of the Translated by Lucia Graves 28 страница rain at daybreak. The bed empty, the room bathed in grey light.

I found Julian sitting in front of what had been Miquel's desk, stroking the keys of his typewriter. He looked up and gave me that lukewarm, distant smile that said he would never be mine. I felt like spitting out the truth to him, like hurting him. It would have been so simple. Reveal to him that Penelope was dead. That he was living a lie. That I was now all he had in the world.

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