The Mad Toy

The Mad Toy by Roberto Arlt Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: The Mad Toy by Roberto Arlt Read Free Book Online
Authors: Roberto Arlt
finished wrapping the bulbs when we recognised the sound of Lucio’s feet in the passage.
    He came in with his face twisted, fat drops of sweat made pearls on his forehead.
    ‘There’s a man coming… He’s just come in… turn out the light…’
    Enrique looked at him in shock and mechanically turned out the light; in terror I picked up the iron bar that someone, I can’t remember who, had left by the desk. An icy cilice fastened round my forehead in the darkness.
    The unknown man climbed the stairs with uncertain steps.
    Suddenly the fear peaked and I was transformed.
    I stopped being an adventurous boy; my nerves readied themselves , my body was a cruel statue filled with criminal instincts, a statue poised on tense limbs, aware of danger.
    ‘Who can it be?’ Enrique whispered.
    Lucio nudged him.
    Now we heard him closer, and his footsteps beat in my ears, a rhythm attuned to the trembling blood in my body.
    Standing up straight, I held the bar with both hands over my head, ready for anything, ready to strike… and as I listened, my senses discerned with a marvellous promptness the nature of every sound I heard, following them all to their origin, understanding the psychological activity of the person who was making them.
    I analysed them all with an unconscious vertigo:
    ‘He’s getting closer… he’s not thinking… if he were thinking, he wouldn’t walk like that… he’s dragging his feet… if he thought something was up then he wouldn’t drag his heel on the ground… he’d match his body to his thoughts… he’d follow the impulse of his ears searching for noises and his eyes looking for intruders, he’d walk on tiptoe… he knows it… he’s relaxed…’
    Suddenly, a hoarse voice, singing down below, with the melancholy of all drunks:
    Cursed is the day I met you
    The sleepy song broke off suddenly.
    ‘He suspects something… no… but yes… no… maybe.’ And I thought that my heart would spring a leak, it was pushing the blood so forcefully through my veins.
    When he reached the passage, the unknown man grumbled again:
    ‘Enrique,’ I whispered. ‘Enrique.’
    No one replied.
    Along with a sour stink of wine, the wind brought the sound of a belch.
    ‘It’s a drunk,’ Enrique whispered in my ear. ‘If he comes, we’ll shut him up.’
    The uninvited guest wandered off dragging his feet, and disappeared at the end of the corridor. He stopped where it turned and we heard him fumbling with the latch of a door that he closed loudly behind him.
    ‘That was close!’
    ‘And you, Lucio… Why are you so quiet?’
    ‘Happiness, brother, out of happiness.’
    ‘How did you see him?’
    ‘I was sitting on the steps; right here. Then bang, I heard a noise, I got up and saw the iron door opening.
Voglio dire
. 12 What a panic!’
    ‘Imagine if he’d started a fight.’
    ‘I’d have cooled him off,’ Enrique said.
    ‘What do we do now?’
    ‘What should we do? Go, it’s time to be off.’
    We went downstairs on tiptoe, smiling. Lucio carried the bundle with the light bulbs. Enrique and I carried two heavy packets of books. I don’t know why, but on the dark staircase I thought about how bright the sun was, and I gave a slow laugh.
    ‘What are you laughing at?’ Enrique asked grumpily.
    ‘I don’t know.’
    ‘We’re not going to meet any cops?’
    ‘No, there’s none between here and my house.’
    ‘You said that before.’
    ‘Anyway, just look at the rain!’
    ‘What’s up,
    ‘I forgot to shut the library door. Give me the lantern.’
    I gave it to him and with big steps Irzubeta disappeared.
    Waiting for him, we sat down on a marble step.
    I shivered with cold in the darkness. The water smashed wildly against the patio tiles. My eyelids shut involuntarily and my spirit was invaded, in a distant twilight, by a vision of the imploring face of my dear beloved girl, motionless, next to the

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