2024/04/17 - 17:06

The Neighbour (transl. Tanya Ellerbrock)

from the Octave Book D

My business rests entirely on my shoulders. Two ladies with typewriters and account books in the front room, my room with a desk, a cash box, a conference table, a lounge chair, and a telephone, that is everything I work with. So easy to survey, so easy to guide. I am quite young and business is going well for me. I don't worry, I don't worry.

Since the New Year a young man has just rented the small, vacant neighboring apartment, which I blunderingly hesitated too long to rent. It is also a room with a front room, and furthermore a kitchen. - I could have used the room and front room - my two ladies feel a bit overwhelmed sometimes -, but what would I have used the kitchen for? This petty misgiving was my debt, I let myself allow the apartment to be taken. Now this young man is sitting there. He is named Harras. What he actually does there I don't know. On the door it says "Harras, Office." I have made inquiries, I have been told it is a business similar to mine. I couldn't be alerted to credit loans, for it involves a young, up-coming man, whose business may have a future, so advice can't be given on credit, for at the moment no fortune appears to exist. The usual information which is given when nothing is known.

Sometimes I meet Harras on the steps, he must always be in an extraordinary hurry, he scurries carefully past me. I have never exactly seen him, he always has the office keys ready in his hand. In the blink of an eye he has opened the door. Like the tail of a rat, he has slipped in and I am standing again in front of the board "Harras, Office," which I have already read more often, that it deserves.

The woefully thin walls, which betray the honest, active man, cover the dishonest, however. My telephone is on the appropriate wall of the room, which separates me from my neighbor. But I emphasize that merely as an especially ironic fact.

Even if it were hung on the opposite wall, you could hear everything in the neighboring apartment. I have given up mentioning the names of clients on the phone. But of course it doesn't pertain much to shrewdness, guessing the names from characteristics, through unavoidable turns of the tongue. - sometimes I dance around, the receiver to my ear, spurred on by anxiety, on my tip toes, and still can not prevent that secrets are given away.

Certainly my business decisions will become insecure through that, my voice shaky. What is Harras doing while I am on the telephone? I would like to really exaggerate - but you must do that often, to make it clear -, so I could say Harras doesn't need a telephone, he uses mine, he moved his sofa against the wall and listens, I must run to the telephone when it rings, to accept clients' wishes, to handle difficult decisions, to perform large-scale persuasions - but above all involuntarily making a report to Harras through the wall of the room during the whole thing.

Maybe he doesn't even wait until the end of the conversation, but rather arises after the point of the conversation, which has cleared up the case enough for him, scurries through the city as is his habit and before I have hung up the receiver, he is might already be on it, counteracting me.

Revision: 2021/01/09 - 23:40 - © Mauro Nervi

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