I broke the tap. I’m not playing games with this virus. I was disinfecting it with the hammer and the handle came off. Now I can’t stop the trickle, relentless as a tax collector. I called the plumber. But nothing works nowadays: “We don’t do home calls because of the pandemic. If you want us to fix it, you’ll have to bring the leak to the shop.”
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This is the second incident in 24 hours. Last night I was leaning out the window over the courtyard. Calm and quiet. Suddenly the third-floor neighbor, Jaqueline, the model, appears in pajamas, to hang her clothes out to dry. She’s beautiful. Enough for me to ignore her caterpillar onesie. I instinctively started to hang my own clothes out, unable to take my eyes off her long brown hair, her delicate porcelain hands, and those toasted almond eyes, sprinkled with glittering flakes of salt. I had already put out two sets of pajamas and three of my shirts when the young woman, smiling kindly, told me, “Mr. Díaz, you have no clothesline. Your clothes are falling down in the yard.” And she disappeared inside, closing the window.
Of all the dramas, the worst is, without a doubt, having to talk to the neighbor on whose property the courtyard sits. So as not to keep putting it off, I just got up and went straight to his front door with my improvised story and rang the bell. Ding, dong.
“Good morning.” My best smile.
“Hello, neighbor.” He puts on his best crocodile smile, like a crocodile might smile after eating a hyena.
“I’m afraid my clothes have fallen in your yard.” I inadvertently take a small step forward.
“Back off right now, you imbecile!” he screamed, en guarde pointing his umbrella at my chest, adjusting his mask, spraying me with hydroalcoholic gel, and shielding himself behind the door.
“Calm down, calm down. Sorry.” I back up. “I need my clothes, please. We’re in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and I have nothing to wear.”
“Mine, in your yard … ”
“And may I ask why you’re throwing clothes into my yard?”
“I didn’t throw them. I was hanging them out.”
“You’re the only neighbor who doesn’t have a line!”
“I know … ”
“You refused to pay the community fee when we put them up, because you thought it was ‘silly to hang your clothes in a place that always smells of boiled cabbage and dead fish.’ ”
“Well, don’t come to me with your nonsense. You probably threw them down here on purpose. You’re a fool for life, in sickness and in health, and I have a lot of work to do.”
And he slammed the door. Ding, dong.
“Now what?” Just a mask peers out.
“The clothes. I’m so sorry. I need them. I can’t go shopping. Just this once. I promise it won’t happen again.”
He hesitated for a moment and motioned for me to follow him down his dreary corridor, pointing out the door to the courtyard.
“And as you go through, duck. Watch out for the scaffolding we’re putting up. Don’t break it with your head.”
As I’m picking up my clothes, a lot of other items surface. A Christmas stocking, an old blazer of mine that went missing on New Year’s Eve 1998, the seventh-floor witch’s ex-boyfriend, already embalmed, and, oh my, a pair of Jacqueline’s pajamas. Recovering from the dizzy spell that this vision brings about, I fetch them from the floor, spring up, and run to hand them back to her. Of course, I forgot about the scaffolding, and the first blow went straight to the forehead, throwing me backwards to receive a fatal blow to the back of my head, finally collapsing forwards, mouth open, onto a low hanging metal bar. I was unaware that I had lost two incisors and a premolar until Jacqueline, looking more than slightly nauseous, informed me, as I handed her the pajamas with a big smile in which several teeth had gone AWOL.
In the end, I had to go back down to retrieve my teeth. Ding, dong.
Neighbor: “You again?”
“Umm, yeah. You’ll laugh … but I need to ask the Tooth Fairy for a new tap.”
Itxu Díaz is a Spanish journalist, political satirist and author. He has written nine books on topics as diverse as politics, music, and smart appliances. He is a contributor to the Daily Beast, the Daily Caller, National Review, the American Conservative, the Federalist, and Diario Las Américas in the United States, and columnist several Spanish magazines and newspapers. He was also an adviser to the Ministry for Education, Culture, and Sports in Spain. Follow him on Twitter at @itxudiaz or visit his website www.itxudiaz.com.
Translated by Joel Dalmau
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