Rocco did not have any particular reason to hate old women.
Yet, he hated them in a ferocious way.
Only seeing one of them plodding along the road with her shopping bag, or waiting for the bus with glasses on the tip of her nose, made him fly into a rage. Inside him flared up an uncontrollable rage and he felt the horrible wish of killing her.
He got rid of the first one when he was practicing in his car, while preparing for his driving licence. Early in the morning, he was driving along the provincial road on a completely empty stretch, flanked by a canal full of water because of recent rain, when the unbearable shape of an old hag driving her bike appeared on the horizon.
Hunched on the decrepit rusty bike in her black dress, while her legs spun in an uncertain and swinging gait.
He could not help it.
It had been impossible for him not to slightly swerve to the right while overtaking her. A mere nothing, to hit her, make her lose her balance and send her into the small river with a large flight, and leave her to drown.
That was the moment in which he discovered the enormous delight that that innocent diversion could offer him.
From that day on, once in a while, when he was particularly nervous or in low spirits, he allowed himself the fancy to get rid of an old woman.
At the beginning he had been very discreet. He repeated the little trick of the car a couple of times. Then he used the method of shooting them with a rifle from a distance, during the hunting season, when he found one alone working in the fields. Finally, after realizing that the police force did not seem to bother too much if some young exuberant boy got rid of a couple of old women per year, he passed to remove them vis à vis: positively funnier.
He waited for them in the evening, in a lonely little street of some small town nearby, maybe while they were going back home after the rosary, and he stuck a nice large butcher knife in their back. Orhe strangled them with a strong nylon thread. Or, perhaps, he cudgelled them with a baseball bat. According to his inspiration.
That very September night, Rocco felt very sad and depressed. His office supervisor had harshly criticized a hard classification project that he had done. That old bastard: with how much pleasure would he have reduced him to jam, overpassing him with a cement mixer.
He really needed to relax. And, fortunately, he knew how to.
In the last few times, he got into the habit of going to evening mass; he sat on the last benches of one of the city churches, and he smacked his lips looking at the extraordinary collection of old pious women. It was fun to select the most unpleasant ones, and dream about how he would like to get rid of them.
That evening he would not confine himself to dreaming, but, after choosing the most hateful one among them all, he would follow her on her way home. And he would kill her.
He identified her immediately. Short, stocky, with two incredible little crooked legs covered with horrible wool socks in a mousy colour, a big black headscarf, her nose like Cyrano de Bergerac’s, her mouth carefully toothless, carmine red gums with which she happily smiled to everybody.
Rocco shivered during the whole ceremony, while stroking the handle of the small axe that he had bought for the occasion. He kept it under his jacket, fastened to the provided sling.
Finally, the priest said: “go in peace” and people went out. Outside it was almost night. The old hags quickly dispersed.
By a stroke of luck, the victim set off along some narrow streets badly illuminated, on the back of the church. Rocco smiled. Everything was happily going in the right way.
He followed her up to where he felt like the right place. A deserted stretch of road, without side streets, very few balconies, duly barred.
A lonely faded streetlight cast the right light, uncertain and sick, on the scene. Rocco who, by that time, closely followed the old woman plodding, called her with a musical voice: He infinitely liked to see the look of those ugly wizened faces when they finally understood what he meant to do.
“Granny… little granny… old hag…”
The old one finally stood still, turning around slowly. She didn’t look afraid at all; instead she kept a sickening kind expression, a little bit dopey, as Mulino Bianco’s granny.
“What do you want, young man?”, she mumbled, spitting out from her gums.
“To make you look at something…” Rocco whispered while holding the axe and shaking it in the air.
“I have something for you, too, young man”, was her surprising answer. With that, she started to raise the bottom hem of her skirt. Rocco stood petrified with disgust. Well, what was going on: he took out an axe and that arteriosclerotic old hag respondedwith a striptease.
But it was not a strip.
Keeping her smile, the old hag retrieved from her suspender a thirty-eight silenced revolver, levelled it with both hands and, with one discrete “PLOP”, she opened a third eye on Rocco’s forehead, just between the other two.
While the boy was falling back like a lump, the old woman, heady with joy, gradually widened her smile and inhaled the smoke coming out the fire-arm.
Genoveffa had no particular reason to hate young boys.
Nevertheless, she hated them in a ferocious way.
Translation by Paola Roveda (edited by Amy Scarlett Holt)