He won’t do anything else. All he ever does is sit downstairs and stroke his violin. No one recognizes the notes he plays. Most of the time he makes no effort to play pretty sounds. Maybe pretty noises break his heart because he thinks he’s ugly inside and out.
One time I came down the stairs to say hi to him. He flinched, covered his face and started screaming.
“Abramo! What is the matter?”
When I grabbed his shoulders he tried to bite me. That’s when I noticed something I had never noticed about him before. As he backed away into the shadows I saw a black hollowness in the place of his left eye. The shock was so extreme I forgot about his wild behavior and forgave him instantly. He knew I saw his eye was missing, and he grabbed his violin and ran up the stairs.
Abramo and I grew up together. He was my neighbor. We used to stay outside until 11:00 PM and watch the bats eat insects. I have no memory of us ever having a conversation. Maybe the violin speaks for him.
I remember when Abramo’s parents died. He took his violin to the funeral and sat in front of their caskets for hours and played mournful notes. As I was leaving, he abruptly stopped and turned to look at me. I only saw his profile, but he looked murderous with sorrow, his pupil dilated with merciless rage. The rage was really depression. His parents died in a car accident. Every time he sees a car he shudders and tries to break his knuckles. I wonder if he’s ever loved anyone else besides his parents.
I’m alone most of the time so I go check on him once a week. When we were children we gave each other the key to our houses so we could come over any time we wanted. I have to admit I am afraid to enter his house sometimes. Abramo’s spirit is unhealthy, and he is obsessed with the violin that he never stops playing. I don’t know why I want to help him so desperately.
When I went down the stairs three days ago I did not hear any noise coming from the basement. I immediately became disturbed and rushed down the stairs. I stumbled through the basement searching for Abramo but he was nowhere to be found. His violin was leaning against the wall and when I leaned to pick it up I saw something glinting in the shadows. Curious, I touched it. The texture was like slippery rubber. I picked it up to examine it. I screamed and dropped it when I saw it was an eye. Someone was putting their hands on me a moment later. When I looked up, I saw Abramo’s right eye glistening with sadness. He glanced down at the eye I had dropped as it rolled past our feet.
“What’s going on?” I gasped. “Is that yours?” He nodded his head.
“What happened?” I asked. I might have shrieked.
“I lost my rosin and had to use my eye to keep the bow fresh and in tune,” he answered.
That was the first time I ever heard his voice. It was a plaintive sound, the sound of a tortured man. After he responded, he took his hands that were on my shoulders and backed away against the wall.
“What are you going to do when your eye wears out?” I asked.
“That should be obvious.” he answered.
He never spoke again.
Header Photograph: By Elena Beresnjak (Elena Beresnjak) [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.