The next summer my brother Levi became eighteen and left the house to go and live in Pearl’s old apartment with our cousin Rio. I was only fifteen, and couldn’t do much about it.
It became really depressing living with my father, his wife Pearl, and my sister Eva. My sister was almost five, and she needed a room of her own, so my father asked Levi if he would like to share a place with Rio, who was his age, and Levi obviously loved the idea, so I was left alone.
I asked my father plenty of times if I could move into my grandmother Matilde’s house, but he wouldn’t agree. He would let me have dinner there sometimes, and lunch, or even spend the weekend, but he wouldn’t let me move into her apartment. After all, he was my father, so I had to live with him, as he would put it.
However, there were compensations for being fifteen, and I was allowed to go out with my eldest brother Marco and his girlfriend Sara. Not just out to the cinema or something, but really out, at night, until as late as I wanted. And they obviously took me to Subtle, where Marco was a DJ.
However, I have to say, the place wasn’t as nice as Sara had described it to be. She had made me think that it was the coolest disco on earth, but I didn’t even like the music.
I told her, and she smiled and explained that things had changed, that my brother wasn’t playing such underground songs anymore, because the place had become prominently gay, and gays enjoyed other kinds of music.
Nonetheless, I did have fun. I got drunk, I guess, and danced a lot. After a while I changed my mind about the place. There was something to it, and the more crowded it got, the better it became. Everybody seemed to be really cool, or well dressed, or something.
Sara kept introducing me to people, and there was a certain mood to all of them. I felt protected, even though I didn’t know them. I felt well.
Then I saw a guy who looked like our friend Otto, but wasn’t. But he really looked like Otto, but he wasn’t him. Could he be Otto? No, he couldn’t. But he was Otto. Or were the lights confusing me? And while I was looking and trying to understand if the guy was Otto, Sara's friend Andresa said something to Sara that included the name Gil.
That’s all I heard from her sentence mixed up with the music, but it was enough for me to remember that Otto and Noel’s younger brother, Gil, had also just returned from Macao.
By that time I guess I was really drunk, or else I don’t know what came over me, because I danced straight to him, stopped right in front of his face, smiling, and told him something like:
‘So… You’re Gil, I’m Lara, the very young one, nice to meet you. God! You’re even more beautiful than Otto! Well, gotta go now… Bye!’
And I left dancing again.
He didn’t have a chance to say a word, and I didn’t even notice if he smiled or not. I was kind of blind, or possessed, or something. And, of course, I made the weirdest first impression.
Nonetheless, two days later, a Saturday, I went out with Sara again. She took me to a bar and we were drinking for a while, then she went to the toilet and I was alone, when Gil suddenly came to sit in front of me at the table. He said:
‘Excuse me, but I would like to ask you if you ever wondered what’s behind the mirrors’
To what I promptly replied:
‘Well, I suppose it’s the opposite of what’s in front of them’
‘Ah! You see, but that way you would get a black reflection of yourself’
And I thought ‘Oh, come on…’, and replied:
‘That’s just the reflection, that would be too obvious!’
He smiled. Sara returned, said hello to Gil and gave him two kisses on the cheeks, and then told me she was going to get more drinks.
‘All right’, I replied, and off she went. Gil continued:
‘You have been reading Through The Looking Glass, haven’t you?’
‘Well’ I said, ‘I have read it, yes, but not recently’
‘Don’t you think you could possibly be under the influence of Lewis Carroll’s ideas?’
‘Well, yes… Actually, you’re right. Nonetheless, they make so much sense, don’t they?’
‘Some say they’re nonsense’ he replied.
‘Oh, well, that must be the perspective of the common sense, anyway’
He smiled again. Sara came back with the drinks and sat down. She also brought a beer for Gil.
‘Ah, thanks!’ he looked at her.
‘You’re welcome’ she said. ‘You didn’t know each other yet, did you?’
‘We met two nights ago’ explained Gil. ‘Lara introduced herself very eloquently’
“Oh, God, I can imagine! Considering how drunk she was’ said Sara. ‘She was so happy! How was your trip back from Macao?’
‘The usual. As soon as the plane took off, all the passengers started dancing’
‘Well, guys, Andresa is here, I’m going to talk to her a bit, she’s with some friends’ informed Sara.
‘See you soon’ I replied.
‘Did you know that Lewis Carroll was a mathematician?’ said Gil to me.
‘Really? No, I didn’t know that’
‘That’s why his books dealt so much with logic’ he explained.
‘Oh… maybe that’s why I find there’s some kind of magic in mathematics’
‘Yes’ he agreed. ‘There’s definitely some kind of magic in mathematics, and in every other science’
‘Right. It’s like everything is connected’
‘Precisely’ he concurred. And then he went on explaining how biology, geography, astronomy, astrology, philosophy, law, economy and literature were all connected.
While he was talking, I was looking at him as if he wasn’t a person. I was dividing him into two different guys: Noel and Otto. He was blondish and had the same blue-green pupils as Noel, but the shape of his eyes, his nose and his mouth were exactly the same as Otto’s.
His voice had the same low tone as the voices from both his brothers, and his eyes were very hypnotic, just like Noel’s eyes. And then I noticed his way of dressing, which was not only entirely his own, but also quite unique in itself, or, should I say, totally retrograde.
He wore very sober clothes, definitely unlike his brothers. No jeans, but old fashion pants extremely neat looking. No T-shirt, but an ironed stripy shirt with its collar coming out of the triangular throat jumper he wore on top. And no Doctor Martin’s or Chinese shoes, but shiny waxed Italian shoes.
He moved very gentleman like, spoke very gentleman like, and his hair wasn’t up in the air like the hair of his brothers, it was parted on the side and absurdly combed to the extremities. Still, he looked quite astonishingly gorgeous in the midst of all his weirdness, like some kind of beautiful looking absolute nerd.
‘He found a door, you know’ he told me, after completing his monologue about science and it’s synchronicity with the universe.
‘Oh, yes, well, not him, actually Alice did, didn’t she?’
‘Well, he did, and she was the door’
‘Oh, yes, of course, I see what you mean’
‘Through Alice, Lewis Carroll found the entrance to a world that allowed him to share his knowledge with the rest of us’ Gil explained. ‘And maybe clarify some things to himself’
‘Did you find your door yet?’ I asked him.
‘Yes’ he replied. ‘My door is my trust in myself. Everybody else thinks I’m crazy, but I don’t think so, I know that only I can see things that no one else can see’
‘How about your door to communicate with others, did you find that one yet?
‘No’ he answered. ‘Did you?’
‘Are you even close?’
‘I don’t know’ I replied. ‘I’m writing a book, and I understand worlds of new things through it’
‘So you’re a writer…’ he commented.
‘Well, I suppose I am, because that’s what I do’
‘What are you writing about?’
‘I’m writing about my dreams. I’m making them come true’
‘What kind of dreams are you talking about?’
‘I see. That’s very interesting, Lara’
‘How about you? What are you, Gil?’ I asked.
‘I’m a universal scientist’ he replied, smiling. ‘I’m researching life, the universe and everything’
I smiled back at him. Sara returned and lovingly grabbed my arm:
‘Let’s go’ she said. ‘I’m going to Subtle and you’re coming with me, I can’t leave you here alone with Gil, you’re already weird enough as it is…’