31 enero 2006

Ruth Cole's moleman

Imagine a mole twice the size of a child, but half the size of most adults. This mole walked upright, like a man, and so he was called the moleman. He wore baggy pants, which hid his tail, and old tennis shoes that helped him to be quick and quiet.

The moleman's job was hunting little girls. He liked to catch them and carry them back underground with him, where he kept them for a week or two. The little girls didn't like it underground. When the moleman finally let them go, they would have dirt in their ears and dirt in their eyes - and they would need to wash their hair every day for ten days before they stopped smelling like earthworms.

The moleman was blind, and his ears were so small that they fit inside his head. He couldn't see the little girls, and he could barely hear them. But he could smell them with his star-shaped nose - he could smell them especially well when they were alone. And his fur was velvety - you could brush it in any direction without resistance. If a little girl stood too close to him, she could not resist touching his fur. Then, of course, the moleman would know she was there.

When Ruthie and her daddy finished dinner, Ruthie's daddy said: "We're out of ice cream. I'll go to the store and get some ice cream, if you clear our dishes from the table."
"Okay, Daddy," Ruthie told him.
But that meant she would be alone with the moleman. Ruthie didn't realize that the moleman was in the dining room until after her daddy had gone.

Ruthie was careful not to drop a knife or a fork, because even a mole can hear a sound as loud as that. And although she could see him, she knew that the moleman couldn't see her. At first Ruthie went straight to the garbage; she tried putting old eggshells and coffee grounds in her hair, so that she wouldn't smell like a little girl, but the moleman heard the eggshells cracking. And besides, he liked the smell of coffee grounds. Something smells like earthworms! the moleman thought, sniffing closer and closer to Ruthie.

Ruthie ran upstairs. She had to get rid of the coffee grounds and eggshells. She had to try to smell like her daddy instead! And so she dressed herself in his unwashed laundry, she put his shaving cream in her hair. She even rubbed her face with the soles of his shoes, which she realized was a bad idea. Moles like dirt. She scrubbed the dirt off and put on more shaving cream, but she had to hurry - it would be a very bad idea to be trapped upstairs with the moleman. And so she tried to sneak past him on the stairs.

The moleman smelled an adult sort of smell, which he shrank away from. But Ruthie had got some shaving cream up her nose. She needed to sneeze. Even a mole can hear a sneeze. Ruthie tried to stop a sneeze three times, which is no fun - it makes your ears feel awful. And each time she made a small sound that the moleman could faintly hear. He cocked his head in her direction.

What was that sound? he was thinking. How he wished he had external ears! It had been a sound like someone trying not to make a sound. He went on listening. He went on sniffing, too, while Ruthie didn't dare move. She just stood there, trying not to sneeze. She also had to try hard not to touch the moleman. His fur looked so velvety!

What is that smell? the moleman kept thinking. Boy, did some guy need to change his clothes! The same guy must have been shaving three times a day. And somebody had touched the bottom of a shoe. And somebody had broken an egg, too - and spilled some coffee. Someone is a mess! the moleman thought. But somewhere, in all of that, there was a little girl who smelled almost alone. The moleman knew this because he could smell her baby powder. After her bath, the moleman was thinking, she puts baby powder in her armpits and between her toes. This was one of those wonderful things that impressed the moleman about little girls.

His fur looks so soft, I think I'll faint - or sneeze, Ruthie thought.

"It's me - I'm home!" Ruthie's daddy cried. "I got two flavors!"

Ruthie sneezed. Some of the shaving cream was sprayed on the moleman. He hated shaving cream. And it's not easy to run when you're blind. The moleman bumped into the newel post at the bottom of the stairs. He tried to hide behind the coat tree in the front hall again, but Ruthie's daddy saw him and grabbed him by the seat of his baggy pants, where his tail was, and threw him out the front door.

Then Ruthie got a special treat. She was allowed to eat two flavors of ice cream and take a bath at the same time, because no one should go to bed smelling of old laundry and shaving cream and eggshells and coffee grounds - and only a little bit of baby powder. Little girls should go to bed smelling of lots of baby powder, and nothing else.

And that, is the end of the story.

(From A Widow for One Year, by John Irving)

Post-it 1: BCID 663-3054196. Es un libro libre. Ahora que ya lo he terminado, lo liberaré el jueves por la mañana en la azotea de la facultad de filología de la UB, en Plaza Universidad.

Post-it 2: volver a escribir a la gente de Tusquets y decirles que ya les vale... El título "El ruido de alguien que no quiere hacer ruido" corresponde con este cuento, y no con el texto que ellos han publicado...

2 comentarios:

O de FLANEURETTE dijo...

vivan los libros libres!

Anónimo dijo...
Este comentario ha sido eliminado por un administrador del blog.