When I felt I’d had enough fresh air and it was time to get back to the bar, as I was climbing the three steps up to the door (stone steps, single blocks of a stone that had a granite-like consistency and the sheen of a gem), I ran into a guy who was shorter than me and dressed like a fifties gangster, a guy who had something of the caricature about him, the classic affable killer, who got me mixed up with someone he knew and greeted me, and I replied to his greeting although from the start I was sure that I didn’t know him and that he was mistaken, but I behaved as if I knew him, as if I, too, had mixed him up with someone else, so the two of us greeted each other as we attempted ineffectively to climb those shining (yet lowly) stone steps, but the hit man’s confusion lasted no more than a few seconds, he soon realized that he was mistaken, and then he looked at me in a different way, as if he were asking himself if I was confused too or if, on the contrary, I had been pulling his leg from the start, and since he was thick and suspicious (though sharp in his own paradoxical way), he asked me who I was, I remember, he asked me with a malicious smile on his lips, and I said, Shit, Jara, it’s me, Bolaño, and it would have been clear to anyone from his smile that he wasn’t Jara, but he played the game, as if suddenly, struck by a lightening bolt (and no, I’m not quoting one of Lihn’s poems, much less one of mine), he fancied the idea of living the life of that unknown Jara for a minute or two, the Jara he would never be, except right there, stalled on the highest of those radiant steps, and he asked me about my life, he asked me (thick as a plank) who I was, admitting de facto that he was Jara, but a Jara who had forgotten the very existence of Bolaño, which is perfectly understandable after all, so I explained to him who I was, and, while I was at it, who he was too, thereby creating a Jara to suit me and him, that is, to suit that moment – an improbable, intelligent, courageous, rich, generous, daring Jara, in love with a beautiful woman and loved by her in return – and then the gangster smiled, more and more deeply convinced that I was making fun of him but unable to bring the episode to a close and proceed to teach me a lesson, as if he had suddenly fallen in love with the image I was constructing for him, encouraging me to go on telling him not just about Jara but also about Jara’s friends and finally the world, a world which seemed too wide even for Jara, a world in which even the great Jara was an ant whose death on a shining step would not have mattered at all to anyone, and then, at last, his friends appeared, two taller hit men wearing light-colored double-breasted suits, who looked at me and at the false Jara as if to ask him who I was, and he had no choice to say it’s Bolaño, and the two hit men greeted me, I shook their hands (rings, expensive watches, gold bracelets), and when they invited me to have a drink with them, I said, I can’t, I’m with a friend, and pushed past Jara through the door and disappeared inside.
Roberto Bolaño, from “Meeting with Enrique Lihn,” The Return
When we’d been living together for a year she left me for a German, by the name of Kurt something or other. She told me she was in love and then she cried, because she felt sorry for me or just because she was happy, I don’t know. Come on, that’s enough, mala mujer, I said to her. She started laughing like she always did when I spoke my language. I started laughing too. We shared a bottle of vodka and said good-bye.
Roberto Bolaño, “Snow,” The Return
Nothing happened today. And if anything did, I’d rather not talk about it, because I didn’t understand it.
Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives