Drowning alone in dementia. 17-year-old meeting changed it [FRAGMENT KSIĄŻKI]

Robin is different from everyone else. Forbidden to live in oblivion amid tormenting memories, Ptolemy completely changes his existence. With her help, and with experimental treatment, Ptolemy comes out of isolation. He experiences the joy of life once again, and his fading mind regains clarity and vitality, allowing him to discover secrets that were unavailable decades ago.

Majstersztyk. Opowiadana intymnym szeptem książka wbija nas głęboko w umysł wiekowego człowieka, który zachował resztki wspomnień i poszukuje klucza do rozwiązania starej zagadki. ("The New York Times Book Review")
Walter Mosley, Walter Mosley, “The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray” (Hardcover) – Republica Publishing

Instead of going back to the sofa, the girl walked up to him and kissed him on the cheek, then hugged him. Ptolemy has always lost faith in embracing a woman.

His mind became strangely confused in the tender embrace.

– And why? – Asked.

Would you marry me if I was twenty years older and twenty years younger?

– You can buy a much better game.

“God alone would not be better than you, Uncle Gray.”

It wasn’t the words at all, but the hunger in the child’s voice caused a pain in his chest. He felt the same pain when a large cockroach began to fly into the kitchen. He squeezed the girl’s shoulders and looked him straight in the eye.

“Today, are you going somewhere with Pickford tonight?” he began.

– I won’t go if you don’t want to.

– No, you can leave. In fact, I wanted to sit still and read today.

Are you tired of being here, uncle?

– No, dear. You set my head on fire and brought love to my apartment. Ptolemy had heard these words before, long ago. Maybe in a song?

Robin left at six, and after ten minutes Ptolemy opened the wardrobe and, using a crowbar, began removing the boards from its base. There was a loophole he had specially prepared nearly fifty years ago. His apartment was on the ground floor. There was at least a meter of concrete under the wardrobe. There was Ptolemy digging hiding Coydog’s treasure. He wasted some time figuring out which hatch was closing the hatch, but the effort paid off and was able to lift it. Old hinges creak and some cracked wood splattered in the process. Ptolemy had no idea where the enormous dirt in the treasury came from. The chest he hid from himself was covered in a layer of black soot at least half a centimeter thick.

He opened it with a brass key, but he did not touch the bag inside. He knew it contained gold, Civil War coins and even old coins, some with traces of use and some completely new. But this treasure was not his property. He was only his guardian, and he was carrying out a mission that Koi, the thief, martyr, and partisan had set before him long ago. He did not intend to play with gold, but took a rag drenched in olive oil from a cache, wrapped in an old blue and black .25 caliber pistol, still glowing dimly in the twilight years later. The smile on Ptolemy’s face was by no means a sign of his approval. The old man didn’t even shoot a rabbit. Now he was smiling a little with care as he wrapped the pistol in his hand.

– Welcome? Hailey Brown spoke to the receiver.

– Is that you, boy? Ptolemy asked.

– Papa Gray? Hello. Look… I’m sorry for being so rude lately. My mom told me to call you and explain myself.

– So why didn’t you call right away?

“I don’t know,” answered the man and the sullen, brown-skinned child. – I really don’t know. I’ll give you your money back, okay?

– First of all, why did you take it from me?

– I don’t think you’ll notice. You act like you’re drunk or high or something. I thought everything would be fine.

– theft? Okay? Ptolemy asked him, slowly tightening his right hand.

His knuckles ache with each pressure, but not too much. There was still a fiery mind in the old man’s body. Weak as a boy, Ptolemy lived to old age as few people, but he was never a bad man like Healy – not half bad.

(…)

At half past eight there was a knock on the door.

– Who’s there? Ptolemy asked.

Dr. Robin, Mr. Gray. can i go in?

The old man opened the door.

– Hello demon. The doctor wore a herringbone jacket, black pants, and a dark red shirt with open at the neck. His face looked crooked under a tuft of hair passing behind a moustache.

– How are you, Mr. Gray? asked the doctor with piercing green eyes, the grimace barely turning into a smile.

“I am on fire, and in my veins I hear singing that reminds me of all things past, as if they only happened this morning and not fifty, sixty, seventy… eighty years ago.

Ptolemy watched the doctor, who was smiling wider with each passing moment. This transformation went on for a long time, until Reuben asked:

– May I come in, Mr. Gray?

Ptolemy spent about twenty seconds wondering if there was any rule forbidding Satan from entering his apartment.

“Well, come,” replied he, finding no limits to the devil and common tact in his mind. He sat down on his light chair and ordered the visitor to sit on Robin’s sofa.

– Is your brain working well? Robin wants to know. – Have you regained your memory and the ability to use all the words freely?

– It’s better than ever. I can tell you what kind of cake my mom made for my sixth birthday, and what the driver was saying when I took the bus to Twenty Third Street and Central this evening.

– Independently?

– Listen?

Did you ride the bus unattended? Robin asked.

– yes. Yeah.

Have no trouble walking or running errands?

– no. Actually, this is a little easier for me than before. He thought about the tube he had directed at Melinda.

– It seems to me that I am more … as the saying goes, coordinator.

The doctor smiled and nodded.

– Are you saying he has a fever? – Asked.

“Sometimes I get so hot that I feel the heat seeping through my skin.” But I take an aspirin, take a cold shower, and get over it.

– That’s excellent, Mr. Gray. The shower and aspirin will work for a while. Maybe even for a long time.

– Fever will kill me? Ptolemy asked without the slightest remorse in his voice.

“Probably,” Robin said. “Are you saying you have some kind of electrical sensation?”

– In the veins. I can compare it to the notes on the flute. Makes butterflies feel like they are hungry for my blood.

“This is how the drug works,” the doctor admitted. It affects the chemical changes of the body and the electrical system of the whole body, and its wiring. But such phenomena must remain confined to the brain. This is what we want to achieve… Find out how to keep the brain alive and working properly without affecting other parts of the body. Can I measure your heart rate?

“The devil pretends to be a healer,” commented Ptolemy, and extended his right hand to Reuben. Having touched her in several places, Robin made a diagnosis:

Your heart rate is high.

He reached into his pocket and took out a small green bottle.

These pills are very small but powerful. There are hundreds of them here. Take one when you have a fever and tickle, which you call playing the flute.

Ptolemy kissed the green bottle and shook it, listening to the sound of grain on the glass.

Tell me something, you demon. Will I live long enough to finish this bottle?

– I will tell you the truth, Mr. Gray. I thought you wouldn’t live to see this day. I came here because I was going to make sure Robin would take care of our arrangement.

Satan’s sincerity brought a smile to Ptolemy’s lips.

– Koi told me about you.

– Who is this?

– My uncle. Well, he wasn’t actually a relative of mine, but he’s an old man who taught me everything I know–almost everything. He told me that you in the book of good are called evil, but nevertheless I must treat you with respect.

That’s what he said. Reuben leaned forward, clapped his hands, and placed his elbows on his lap. He looked at Ptolemy deeply in his eyes.

“I’m not crazy, Doctor Robin, though you may wish to call me that.” I’m not crazy at all. But when I see Satan, I will always recognize him. You don’t need a college degree to pinpoint the absolute evil in front of your nose. These are the facts.

“But… Mr. Gray, I’m helping you, right?” Did you not come to me and ask for help?

For a brief, fleeting moment, Ptolemy was frightened. Did he sell his soul and not fully realize it? Was he cheated like so many before him in the Long Road of Desolation?

“But we made a pact, right?” – Asked.

“I wanted my body, not my soul.”

Satan smiled at Ptolemy Gray. His whole face was radiating friendship.

– That’s right, Mr. Gray. I just want your body. I offer you serenity of mind and a tickle in your veins, and in return I want your body when you no longer need it.

We make this deal with a handshake? asked Gray, and the two men extended their hands, and then exchanged hugs, assuring the deal they both wanted and needed. After a short moment of quiet thought, Robin asked:

– Where’s your niece?

– She left with her boyfriend.

– He leaves you alone and you can take care of yourself?

“If I had a 30-liter barrel, I would fry a pig on a fire,” said Ptolemy proudly.

“I’m sure you will, Mr. Gray.” I am sure.

For a long time after the departure of Satan, Ptolemy mentally analyzed their conversation. He remembered every word he said, every change in the timbre of his voice, every gesture, every sentence.

(…)

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