An angry summer, it was almost cold. In July the tip of the volcano turned white. People played its numbers at the lottery and up they came, promptly. There were big wins. The year before a cobbler had nailed four out of five. I asked Don Gaetano whether thoughts ever came to him with numbers. He made a gesture as if he were brushing away a fly. But was there an art to it? Could you learn to hear people’s thoughts?
“First of all, don’t call them people, they’re persons, each and every one. If you call them people you lose sight of the person. You can’t hear the thoughts of people, but of persons, one at a time.”
He was right, until that age I hadn’t noticed persons, it was all one people. At the doorman’s station that summer I learned to recognize the tenants. As a child the only one who mattered to me was on the third floor behind the window, I didn’t even know what her parents
looked like. She had disappeared and after that getting to know the building’s other tenants didn’t much matter to me.