One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 18


   “So,?he said with a voice with a touch of razor in it, “You’re the bastard.?
   “I’m Aureliano Buendía.?
   “Go to your room,?Jos?Arcadio said.
   Aureliano went and did not come out again even from curiosity when he heard the sound of the solitary funeral ceremonies. Sometimes, from the kitchen, he would see Jos?Arcadio strolling through the house, smothered by his anxious breathing, and he continued hearing his steps in the ruined bedrooms after midnight. He did not hear his voice for many months, not only because Jos?Arcadio never addressed him, but also because he had no desire for it to happen or time to think about anything else but the parchments. On Fernanda’s death he had taken out the next-to-the-last little fish and gone to the wise Catalonian’s bookstore in search of the books he needed. Nothing he saw along the way interested him, perhaps because he lacked any memories for comparison and the deserted streets and desolate houses were the same as he had imagined them at a time when he would have given his soul to know them. He had given himself the permission denied by Fernanda and only once and for the minimum time necessary, so without pausing he went along the eleven blocks that separated the house from the narrow street where dreams had been interpreted in other days and he went panting into the confused and gloomy place where there was barely room to move. More than a bookstore, it looked like a dump for used books, which were placed in disorder on the shelves chewed by termites, in the corners sticky with cobwebs, and even in the spaces that were supposed to serve as passageways. On a long table, also heaped with old books and papers, the proprietor was writing tireless prose in purple letters, somewhat outlandish, and on the loose pages of a school notebook. He had a handsome head of silver hair which fell down over his forehead like the plume of a cockatoo, and his blue eyes, lively and close-set, revealed the gentleness of a man who had read all of the books. He was wearing short pants and soaking in perspiration, and he did not stop his writing to see who had come in. Aureliano had no difficulty in rescuing the five books that he was looking for from that fabulous disorder, because they were exactly where Melquíades had told him they would be. Without saying a word he handed them, along with the little gold fish, to the wise Catalonian and the latter examined them, his eyelids contracting like two clams. “You must be mad,?he said in his own language, shrugging his shoulders, and he handed back to Aureliano the five books and the little fish.