The Right thing



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  The Right thing    

By María Eugenia Marzioni




Reginald locked the door of his office for the last time and dropped the key in the hospital’s reception.  “See you tomorrow, Dr. Belle”, said Lucy in her receptionist-like tone.  Suddenly, she realized: “Oooops.  Sorry, Dr. Belle.  See you… around, I guess” “Lucy, dear”, he took her hand and smiled a little bit.  “During all these years you have been inefficient, sometimes rude and most of the times useless.  But… you know that I have always liked you.   You are unpredictable and funny and also spontaneous.  You’ve lighted my days many many times.  Thank you.” Lucy blushed for a moment and did not know what to say.  She thought she’d better leave him like this, since it was not easy to see Dr. Belle giving thanks to someone.” He shuffled to the front door and waved her goodbye.  She waved him back smiling.  Despite his age, Dr. Belle looked handsome, she thought, and wished him a happy retirement.

The cold April day did not stop Regie from carrying out his routine.  Every day, after work, he would walk down the hospital street, stop at the baker’s for three pastries, stroll to the main square and sit on a bench to think.  “Sitting and eating pastries!  Eat healthy stuff!  Go to the gym!  Do the right thing”, his best friend who was also a physician had told him after his last heart attack.  He had not paid any attention to his well-meant pieces of advice.  “I am always doing the right thing”, he had just replied shrugging his shoulders.  “Oh, yes.  All my life has been ‘a right thing”, he thought while leaning back on the bench and swallowing a piece of croissant.

 When that Monday morning Adreana arrived late, he rejected her.  He disliked unpunctual people, mainly if the person was the owner of the bookstore he was visiting for the first time.  Only when having an emergency surgery could he be excused of arriving late at some place.  He hated when he and his wife were going to the movies or they were invited to eat out and he had to wait for her till her make-up was finished or she got the kids ready or whatever the “excuse-of-the-night”was. 

“Oh, I don’t know how to apologize!” Adreana said trying to unzip her bag to get the keys and at the same time fold her wet umbrella.  “It’s Monday and the traffic is a mess!” Some books she was holding fell on the pavement and got wet.  Adreana attempted to pick them up but some papers she had on her other hand started to fly along with the wind that had started to blow some seconds ago.  “Oh!  Oh!  This… rain!” she exclaimed holding her lips not to curse. 

Though Regie found the whole situation a little funny, he just replied with a forced smile and some politically correct comments.  As a true gentleman he was, he picked up the books, the papers, the umbrella and even helped her unlock the door of the store which was giving her a hard time.  “Oh, thanks, thank you so much!” she said giving him a huge smile with her big brown eyes almost shining.  “Please, do something else for me”, Adreana said gently putting her hands on his chest.  “Wait outside.  It’ll be just a moment.  This bookstore has to be enjoyed” 

For some minutes Regie regretted having made the decision of going to the bookstore everybody had recommended him.  “You will fall in love with it” patients, friends had told him and now he doubted it.  But, when Adreana let him in he understood.  “Welcome” she said proudly “Enjoy”.  The place was magical.  It was not a big bookstore though everywhere your eyes stopped there was a book.  All sizes.  All colors.  All types.  All authors.  All languages.  All ages.  Ennio Morricone’s music was on and he felt he was in that Cinema Paradiso Giuseppe Tornatore had described in his movie.  The coconut scent mixed with the smell of wood from the antique furniture was filling what was left of his senses.  “If you need something, just call me.  My name is Adreana”, she told him extending her right arm.  “Beautiful name and beautiful bookstore, Adreana. I’m Dr. Reginald Belle” he replied shaking her hand.

Every morning, at eight o’clock, Regie would stand at the door of the bookstore waiting for Adreana’s funny excuses for being late.  He would help her pick up her stuff, unlock the door which she had never had repaired and wait outside for magic.  He would enter and enjoy the feast of the senses listening to the soft music, smelling the exotic scents, touching the pages of each book and diving into a world of adventure, geography, romance, science and history.  Adreana would just be around, like a bell, coming and going, talking to other customers, answering the phone or buying flowers to decorate the place.  Sometimes she would offer him a cold burnt coffee which he thought as the most horrible in the world.  Some other times, she would do accounts or show him some new book.  In some other occasions she would just sit next to him, listening to his stories and making funny comments on them.  Some other times, she would tell him about her worries, her plans, her dreams and he would find them ridiculous and silly, but witty and outstanding.

Adreana was for him the discovery of a new world.  Time was eternal next to her and space was blurred in the middle of her laughter and high-pitched voice.  She was everything he hated and loved at the same time, she was happiness and agony and wit and silliness.  She could make him forget about the pressures of a demanding wife, spoiled children and a stressing job. And in a way he felt that for her, he was another new world.  He represented everything she loathed but enjoyed… his extreme punctuality, his formal clothes, even his weird expressions.  He liked when she mentioned his frowning forehead and his old-fashioned glasses. “Adorably stiff” she used to say, and her lips turned into sunshine.

Going to the bookstore became not just a pastime but an obligation, a must, an addiction.  He could not figure out his days without stopping by and having a cup of coffee which, by now, was made by him just to be sure that he would not be drinking some cold stuff with no taste.  Many times, and now it was being a more frequent action, had he found himself thinking about the bookstore and its owner.  Things Adreana was interested in, good at, or scared of and even those she hated or despised, provided him with good excuses to stop his normal day and taste the sweet flavor of her image inside the shop surrounded by books.  And even when he chatted with his friends or his patients he, apparently by chance, managed to mention Adreana and her bookstore just to check out what people thought about her.  He loved saying he was her friend and though his tone was kept quite neutral and indifferent, his heart beat faster when his lips moved to pronounce the first syllables of her name.

On the other hand, every morning, on his way to the bookstore, he tortured himself with thoughts of guilt.  He was married.  He had children.  He was a well-known physician, belonging to a traditional family and his ideas on marriage and family were very clear, or at least had been.  He found himself wondering why he was so compelled to go to the bookstore and see Adreana if he had never tried to have any relationship with her, apart from being an ordinary customer.  But he was not ordinary at all, and he knew that, and he enjoyed it.  There was a very thin line between correct and incorrect, between conscious and unconscious, between friendship and relationship.  Was he ready to cross that line, he wondered.

That day was rainy and cold, very much like the day he had first arrived.  As usual, he got into the tiny kitchen for his cup of coffee and Adreana rushed into it with a new limited unique publication of Hamlet.  Reginald turned and met Adreana’s excited face and he thought she was really beautiful.  The coconut scent, the smell coming from the antique furniture, the fresh smell of coffee, the sound of the drops gently hitting the glass of the small window activated Regie’s senses and he felt the same magic he had felt the very first day when he reluctantly entered the bookstore.  This time magic was stronger and Adreana was like a nymph in the middle of an exotic forest.  He grabbed her arms, looked intensely at her brown eyes and could see some tears.  She knew. And this was like a sharp knife in the middle of his heart.  “You know I have to do the right thing”, he said finally.  She nodded and gave him the tenderest look he had ever seen.  He put her body near his and hugged her to the point of squeezing her and could feel her tears rolling down on his shoulders.  He also cried.  He had cried only when his father had left his mother and brothers many years ago and he had promised himself not to do it again and not to do something like this to anybody.  They remained like this for a long time, nobody can say for how long.  He didn’t drink coffee that day.  He just went back home and called sick. 

 That was the last day he went to the bookstore. After that, he became a somber man.  He had some glints of happiness in his life when his grandchildren were born, when he got an important distinction because of his impeccable career and strong commitment to the community and when he moved to a bigger, more comfortable house in the suburbs.  Adreana had died on a cold rainy April afternoon and he kept wondering what her last thoughts had been.  His wife had died too and Regie would never forget her last words full of pity: “You should have gone with her”  He had cried again and remained next to her body for a long time, nobody can say for how long. 

 Reginald opened his eyes.  He looked at the sky and the clouds of that cold April day.  He still had one croissant to eat.  He picked it up and put a piece inside his mouth.  “Always the right thing”, he murmured.  And went on eating very slowly enjoying his first day of retirement.





Cursos, Seminarios - Información Gral - Investigación - Libros y Artículos - Doctrina Gral - Bibliografía - Jurisprudencia  - Miscelánea -  Curriculum - Lecciones de Derecho Penal - Buscador