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state: first draft
last update: 1999 September 3

Killing Buddha

11. Please Leave a Message

By Kevin Kelleher

The devil took his arm once again, and once again they rose into the sky.

However, Renzo didn't remember anything of this flight. The next thing he knew, he was waking up in his own bed, dressed in his pajamas. It was four o'clock in the morning of Friday. Renzo rubbed his head and calculated. It was Wednesday night when the devil picked him up in the white Ferrari, so all the flying and meeting people must have happened on Thursday. If it happened at all.

In spite of the hour, Renzo was wide awake. He walked out of the bedroom, asking himself if he was hungry enough to eat or if it was too early for a cup of coffee. As he walked past the answering machine he noticed that the message light was flashing. There were three messages.

The first was from his supervisor, Brambilla. "Listen, Renzo, I don't know what to say. Maybe I'm crazy, but last night -- oh, forget it. Listen, I'm not coming into work today, I couldn't sleep all night. I know this is crazy. Oh, anyway, if this is nuts just forget it, but I could swear that I saw you flying through the air above Corso Buenos Aires last night. Was it some kind of trick, or should I see a doctor? Call me, please, and tell me I haven't lost my mind. Take care."

The next message was from Tina. "Renzo, you are so sweet! How did you fly through the air like that? I looked all around for a crane, and I asked the men whether there was some sort of winch on the roof, but no one knew anything. It was just amazing! And it was nice of you to remember my birthday; I have to admit I was a little depressed before you came, but you really brightened my day. Ciao, Renzo!"

The last call was from his aunt, Umberto's mother. "Renzo, I know it's impossible for you to be home by now, but I have to tell you the sad news while I still have the strength to do it. Your cousin Umberto died this morning, a few hours after you left. He was so happy that you came to see him; it meant a lot to him, and apples were all he could eat, you know. It was very thoughtful. Good bye."

Renzo listened to the three messages three times, then took out the tape for safe keeping. Then he sat in a chair with his head in his hands until the sun came up and roused him. He showered, dressed, and went to work.

As luck would have it, the first person he ran into was the blonde from accounting who lived in Naviglio. She was wearing a light-colored skirt and a white blouse, and looked as incredibly sexy and attractive as when he'd seen her naked and drying her hair. They nearly collided in a doorway, and mechanically each backed up a step to let the other pass. When they looked into each other's face, after the shock of recognition his penis lept to attention and his face flushed. Her eyes narrowed and her mouth opened as if she was going to say something. Instead she landed a full opened-handed slap across his face. The slap was strong enough to leave a visible impression of her hand for several minutes. Renzo muttered fragments of apologies and excuses as she pushed past him. He turned and watched her walk away. "God, she is so beautiful I could die!" he sighed inwardly.

When she moved out of sight, he sighed aloud and turned to go. The devil stood before him. "We've got to talk now, boy. We have got to talk."

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