Antonia Buizza – Immortality

I met Maicol at primary school, but only three years ago I understood how worthy he was.
He went within a split time from barely one hundred friends, to ten thousand, six hundred and eighteen. I don’t know if you see what I mean: ten thousand, six hundred and eighteen; and the number increases every day.
He never had been powerfully built, Maicol: light blue eyes, pale and dreadfully skinny.
Once he even tried to do some weightlifting, but he gained more bullshit than grams of muscles. After all, he could have chosen another gym: if you look like a scarecrow you don’t go to Virgin club which is the coolest place in town; or else, it means that you are looking for trouble, for bullshit. Franci, the girl who works as an assistant in the perfumer’s shop just in front, still remembers his acetate blue tracksuit which was probably fashionable in the nineties, but I’m not sure. Anyway, after two months spent sweating, he realized that it was not the place for him, and gave up.
You cannot even say that he had a great job, because he was a storekeeper a Safab’s and, as the way things go nowadays, he was laid off one month and the next one too. Thankfully, his old mother had saved a good stash of money, polishing stairs and washing Boccone del Prete’s dishes. Actually, Maicol was never short of money, and when he was not working you could find him at the Chinese bar every morning, in front of a black coffee laced with sambuca; if he wasn’t there you can bet that he was in the back of the shop, playing with video poker slot machines. With his usual lousy luck, he lost money on a monthy basis, but anyway, he could thank his lucky stars because his mother didn’t say anything, on the contrary, she bankrolled him again. Besides, you could find her too at the tobacconist’s every two days, betting on Venezia’s wheel(where she had been for her honeymoon) well, that was what she said. Nobody knew anything about Maicol’s father and when someone touched upon the subject, he kept silent and his face turned ugly even though, as scrawny as he was, he could not scare a fly.
On Saturday evenings he came out with our group, along with Micio and Barba , and this suited everyone because his Punto was never low on petrol. We usually went for a drink at North Cap’s and then dancing at Trendy’s or Cadillac’s. After one pirlo and one negroni, Maicol tried with every girl, but horror as he was, he was also difficult, he pestered only the most attractive ones; but not one of them was ever so stoned,  to give it to him,not even to make him smell it. Therefore he consoled himself at the counter, acting as an idiot with the barmaids who, as per contract, must be nice with everyone.
It was exactly on one of these Saturday evenings that Maicol had his accident. It must have been four o’clock in the morning. We had been at Black Lake’s, a place on the lake that had just opened and that was a bit outside of our usual circles. We wanted to see Belen personally: that evening she was a guest and signed autographs. I don’t really go crazy for South American girls, but the others were so excited, and Maicol even more: he wanted to have a selfie with that girl.
We arrived at eleven and, furthermore had  to queue because a lot of people had our same thought. One hour later, we finally entered and we immediately rushed to the counter for a round of Mojitos. We caught a glimpse of Belen from afar: she is gorgeous, but who feels like standing in a queue for two more hours just for a photo? Only that stunned Maicol who doesn’t take his eyes away from her.
At three o’ clock we see him again and we tell him that we want to get away. He keeps on buzzing around the stage. He has not yet done a selfie, because he cannot stand in a queue and he goes and comes from the bar. I glance at his face and I immediately understand that he is drunk. But neither the others or I are much better. We leave him there drooling over that girl from Argentina and we depart, having two cars, we slipped into Micio’s Golf.
The next morning, a little after eleven, my mother woke me up with a coffee and the news that Maicol crashed his car fatally.
That Sunday, we spoke of nothing else other than Maicol’s end where he had gone off the road and ploughed against the old mulberry tree at the entrance of the village. He had been good at getting almost home. Too bad for the tree that for a while, had to be cut down: when you say bad luck! I hoped that, at least, he had his selfie with Belen.
We all went to see the place of the crash, but by that time there was nothing left, just pieces of glass and tyre marks. It was not even worthwhile to take out our mobile for a photo.
Good Bye, Maicol, I will miss you R.I.P. (rest in peace)… Even if you are up there we will not forget you R.I.P….A new angel arrived in heaven R.I.P…. Now you are our star R.I.P. His facebook page which, up to the day before, had not even a hundred friends, started to become stormed. Everybody wanted to write something.
That evening, at the Chinese bar, we were still talking about the accident when Barba, running his finger on the mobile, had the idea that it was a pity that Maicol was not there, and could not enjoy his success. Just for fun, he tried to enter into his facebook page: he typed the name and the password. The dear departed had not much imagination: we wrote Belen and were immediately inside.
That was only the beginning.
After a pint of red Tennent, Barba announced online that Maicol would always be with us and loaded some photos of the last drink at the Cadillac’s. Actually, his face was a little out of focus, but maybe it was better like that.
The idea of the hashtag “OnelikeforMaicol” was mine.
And it was a great success; the morning after we were at a five hundred likes.
The day of the funeral was an event. Micio documented every moment minute by minute, loading all in time. He edited also a short film with I think I will rise again in the background: a professional job.
Three years have passed and Maicol is still with us; not only because we organize for him an ethyl birthday party at Cadillac’s or remember the crash at Trendy’s (the tickets for the events are sold like hot cakes), but because we can say that it is thanks to him that I met Sara:
It was Micio’s idea to launch the hashtag “OneselfiewithMaicol” and it’s useless to say that it was a triumph: I still keep Sara’s photo in front of the gravestone on my phone.
And, in my own small way, I’m proud of being one of those who gave sense to Maicol’s life.

Translation by Paola Roveda (edited by Amy Scarlett Holt)