Is that so – the sad tax inspector said to the obeying Leandrito, passing him a shiny object – take this loaded weapon, and please take revenge, with only one shot, without missing.
By the forest path near the clearing Cortázar had found, defying any logic, a couch. He looked around, brushed aside the branches that surrounded it and nothing: no other sign of human hands other than the couch itself.
It was a detail, a small gift for the person who had wandered off the main path hours ago and now the right moment had come to take advantage of it. He was exhausted, he sat down.
The couch wasn't bad. In different circumstances he would have had some remarks about the colour, but dammit, Cortázar could not afford to be so demanding. The colour did indeed indicate poor taste, but the springs were flawless and offered a nice rest: in a few minutes Cortázar felt that sleep was overtaking him and he took a nap.
He had forgotten he was lost in the middle of a forest path - he had forgotten to fear the attack of a wild beast and the fear of not finding a way back. He was dreaming that he was still in the comfort of his home from whence he had departed in the morning to take a short walk in the woods.
He woke up, looked around and luckily realized that he wasn't at home, that he was not in his warm house, that he is not surrounded by people who love him, no, Cortázar was lost, completely lost in the middle of the woods and to make the situation worse, there was a tiger in front of him, preparing to attack.
Leandito Bustamonte felt relieved. He had found what he had been seeking so persistently. He was ready for a fight till his last atom of strength. Let the tiger approach.
Cortazár met a tax inspector.
Oddly enough the first question had nothing to do with taxes. The first question that the inspector posed, smiling, was simply:
- Do you have a watch, sir?
Cortázar allowed himself to be tricked by the semblance of kindness and the relaxed question.
He rolled his shirt sleeve a little up and got ready to tell the man what time it was, when he was interrupted by a stern but not unpleasant:
- Give me the watch.
Cortázar did not resist, he loosened the strap and passed it over, just like he did - he remembered - with all the watches he had given him before that. "Let him keep them forever, damn him", Leandrito thought in that moment.
The tax inspector's smile was barely noticeable as he was putting the watch away in his pocket.
Then he posed another question with an all too gentle voice:
- Are you in a hurry?
Cortázar said that he was, very much so.
- Give me your shoes - the tax inspector muttered.
Cortázar bent over, took off his shoes and handed them over. The inspector put away the new gift without a word.
- Are you cold?
Cortázar thought that the taxman meant his feet, which were now directly in touch with the wonderful ground of this country. But before he could answer, the tax inspector muttered:
- Your jacket...
No more words were needed, everything was crystal clear between them now. Cortázar handed over the jacket and the taxman put it in his suitcase.
The same happened to his trousers, shirt, wallet, everything. Cortázar was now standing naked and exposed to the judgemental and mocking gazes of the passer-bys. Behold the shame he will never forget.
- Do you have weapons at home? - the tax inspector asked suddenly.
Cortázar replied that no, he did not.
- Do you know how to handle a gun?
Cortázar did not know how to lie.
- Yes - he replied.
- Is that so... - the tax inspector said, revealing for the first time his deep, melancholic voice.
The saddest voice that Cortázar had ever had the chance to hear since he was born and able to listen.
- ...Is that so - the sad tax inspector said to the obeying Leandrito, passing him a shiny object - take this loaded weapon, and please take revenge, with only one shot, without missing.
Cortázar, who had disappeared years ago, was in no way pleased because a number of people that he had abandoned didn't look sad enough about him leaving. These people fell back into their usual daily routine and except his wife and children who kept trying to find him in various ways for some years afterwards, no one else did anything about it.
On top of that, Cortázar didn't even disappear very far away. In fact he was in the building that stood next to his previous home. He never went out in the street, that much is true, and everything he needed was brought to his doorstep in exchange for a good payment.
Since Cortázar was the only resident on the floor and there were no neighbours across from him, nobody ever saw him, not since he had disappeared from the next building over. Everyone though that an old man or woman - they weren't even sure about the gender - who couldn't walk lived in that apartment and that was the reason why they brought food and all the other supplies to their doorstep.
Cortázar decided that he would make a new life for himself. Without leaving his home he published an ad, seeking a bride: he found one, got married, had two beautiful children and he did it all, let's say it again - which isn't as difficult as it is monotonous - without leaving his home.
When his family was happy and settled Bustamonte felt it was time to disappear.
His second wife came home one day with the children and he was not there.
He had disappeared.
He never came back.
He was now two buildings away from the first family he had established and abandoned, and one building away from his second family.
(Just like during his first disappearance, Cortázar was now vigilantly observing his latest family's searching and because he was uncompromising he noted all observable reactions - ads in the paper: "Cortázar has disappeared, his family is looking for him, any information...", police searches and so on - and he compared it to the reactions of the first family that he had left.)
But Cortázar knew that he was not made to be alone, and so he patiently waited until his family (the second one) abandoned all attempts to find him, so he could begin a new life and create a family from scratch, just the way he liked it.