HE DIDN'T EVEN CRY: FEBO
Febo used to spend long hours
curled up at my feet. And ever so often he would get up, walk over to the
door, and turn and look at me. I would go and open the door for him and he
would go out, coming back after an hour or two.
One day he went out and never came
back. I waited for him until evening, and when night fell, rushed through
the streets, calling him by name. I returned home in the dead of night and
threw myself on my bed, facing the half-open door. Ever so often, I would
go to the window and call him again and again in a loud voice.
At daybreak, I again rushed
through the deserted streets.
As soon as it was daylight, I
rushed to the municipal dog prison. I went into a grey room where I found
a number of whining dogs, shut up in stinking cages, their necks still
bearing the marks of the noose. The caretaker told me that my dog
might have been run over by a car, or stolen, or thrown into the river by
a gang of hooligans.
He advised me to go the round of
the dog shops who could say that Febo was not in some dog shop?
All the morning, I rushed from one
dog shop to another, and at last a canine barber is a dirty little shop
near the Piazza Dei Cavalieri asked me if I had been to the university
veterinary clinic, to which dog thieves were in the habit of selling
cheaply the animals that were subsequently used for clinical
I rushed to the university, but it
was already past midday -- the veterinary clinic was closed.
I returned home. In the afternoon,
I returned to the university and went into the veterinary clinic. My heart
was thumping, I was so weak and in such agony of mind that I could hardly
walk. I asked for the doctor on duty and told him my name. The doctor, a
fair-haired , short-sighted young man with a tired smile received me
courteously and gazed at me for a long time before replying that he would
do everything possible to help me.
He opened the door and we entered
a large, clean, bright room, the floor of which was covered with blue
linoleum. Along the walls, one beside the other, like beds in a children's
clinic, were rows of strange cradles, shaped like cellos. In each of the
cradles was a dog lying on its back with his stomach exposed or its skull
split or its chest gaping open.
The edges of those dreadful wounds
were held apart by thin, steel wire, wound round wooden pegs of the kind
that in wooden instruments serves to keep the strings taut.
One could see the naked heart
beating, the lungs with the veins of the bronchial tubes looking like the
branches of a tree. Swelling exactly as the foliage of a tree does when
the wind blows; the red shining liver very slowly contracting; slight
tremors running through the pink and white substance of the brain as in a
steamy mirror. The coils of the intestines sluggishly disentangling
themselves like a heap of snakes waking from their deep slumber. And not a
moan came from the half open mouths of the tortured dogs.
As we entered, all the dogs turned
their eyes upon us. They gazed at us imploringly, and at the same time
their expressions were full of a dread foreboding. They followed our every
gesture with their eyes, watching us with trembling lips, standing
motionless in the middle of the room, I felt a chill spread through my
Little by little, I became as if
turned to stone. I could not open my lips. I could not move a step.
A doctor laid his hand on my arm,
"Courage," he said. The word dispelled the chill that was in my bones.
Slowly I moved and bent over the first cradle. As I proceeded from cradle
to cradle, the color returned to my face, and my heart dared to hope.
Then suddenly I saw
He was lying on his back, his
stomach exposed and a strobe buried in his liver. He was staring at me,
his eyes were full of tears. He was breathing gently, his mouth half open,
and his body was trembling horribly. He was staring at me, and agonizing
pain stabbed my heart.
"Febo," I said in a low voice,
bending over him and stroking his forehead.
Febo kissed my hand, and not a
moan escaped him.
The doctor came up to me and
touched my arm. "I can't interrupt the experiment," he said, "It's not
allowed. But for your sake I'll give him an injection. He won't
I took the doctor's hand in mine.
"Swear to me that he won't suffer," I said, while the tears rolled down my
"He'll fall asleep forever," said
the doctor. "I would like my death to be as peaceful as his."
I said, "I'll close my eyes. I
don't want to see him die."
"But be quick -- be
"It will only take a moment," said
the doctor, and he moved noiselessly away, gliding over the soft carpet of
the linoleum. He went to the end of the room and opened the cupboard.
I remained standing before Febo. I
was trembling horribly, tears were running down my face. Febo was staring
at me, and not the faintest moan escaped him.
The other dogs, lying on their
backs in their cradles, were also staring at me -- and not the faintest
moan escaped them.
Suddenly, I uttered a cry of
terror: "Why this silence!" I shouted.
It was a horrible silence, a vast,
chilling, deathly silence, the silence of snow.
The doctor approached me with the
syringe in his hand. "Before we operate on them, " he said, "we cut their