Mesdames et Messieurs, venez plus près, déposez votre obole et glissez-vous
sous la tente ! En ce mois de mars, douzième de 1492, Hardouin, le
montreur ambulant, vous présentera
Vous apprendrez comment le vieux montreur a sauvé d’une mort certaine Tyecelin, son actuel assistant, un gamin de 7 ans. Vous suivrez leurs péripéties, leurs rencontres, la tribu qui se formera autour d’eux. Vous rencontrerez Grand Macabre, la chiromancienne qui fabulera la vraie vie de l’hermaphrodite, vous saurez l’histoire de Juan, le premier assistant parti avec Colomb aux Indes occidentales, vous découvrirez Face-de-lune le mongolien, Ava la jeune aveugle et son fiancé défiguré, Delphin le délicat chevalier et Carolingine la tortue. Vous verrez des routes qui se séparent, qui se retrouvent, s’achèvent et recommencent. Approchez !
Tiecelin has put aside the tambourine. Now he's tapping right on Ava's belly. A little voice tells him it's a silly idea, but another says he's doing the right thing. So does Ava: 'Yes, Tiecelin, that's good; keep doing it.'
The contractions are finally getting too strong.
And pushing Ava's knees to get her to open her thighs, Tiecelin's elbow bumps something.
He thinks it's the idiot: 'Get out of the way, Face-of-the-moon!'
But Face-of-the-moon doesn't have warm fur. Tiecelin glances over. It's a big dog. A big black dog.
'Go away!' He takes a closer look. 'Sing!' he says to Ava.
And in his head he tells himself he's crazy. He's actually recognized the animal. It isn't a dog; it's a wolf.
And now there's the loud sound of a stream of liquid, and a strong odor.
'Who's there?' asks Ava, the blind woman in labor.
Tiecelin is quick to answer: 'Someone who's come to help us.'
Tiecelin knows he hasn't seen right; it's not really a wolf: the way it pees makes clear it's a she-wolf. People like to say wolves devour newborns, but this evening he doesn't believe it. He feels a little drunk; he feels good, almost in a trance. With all of his ten years, he knows what he has to do; it is unexpected but urgent.
This time, he doesn't talk to Ava or even to Face-of-the-Moon but right to the she-wolf: 'Sing!'
The animal apparently knows how to stand its ground. It sings. It and Face-of-the-Moon sing in unison.
'It's a she-wolf,' Tiecelin quietly explains to Ava. 'It's come to help us. Everything will be all right.' He starts searching with his hands. 'I can feel the head. It's starting to push. Push. Push now!'
Hardouin, Fire-Eater, and Pepin have gotten down from their cart. It's easy for them to see that something quite unusual is going on. They've also noticed the animal. Fire-Eater has picked up his stick. But Hardouin holds him back. With a gesture, he stops them, keeping them at a distance.
In the play of the shadow and the moon, with the music, the river, and the shivering leaves, Hardouin, Fire-Eater, and Pepin, and now a few passing travelers who've stopped behind them, watch Tiecelin squat, pick up something of a certain size and a bit of weight, and hold it up above Ava's opened thighs. The music suddenly stops. From where they are, they hear a breath, tiny but deep, a little shout, and some determined crying.
Tiecelin puts the tiny little thing on the blind woman's belly. The blind woman's hands take hold of it and cover it.
'I'm pretty sure it's a girl,' Tiecelin says.
Face-of-the-Moon - Face-of-the-Moon who doesn't talk, who still has never talked - screams. But this time, the idiot's scream has power, direction, intention: 'She-wolf!'
Tiecelin bends down to Ava. 'Your daughter,' he says, 'we'll call her She-Wolf. Okay?'
'Okay.' Ava's smile is whiter than the eyes she doesn't have: 'She-Wolf.'
Translated by Andrew Shields for “New Swiss writing 2010”
V: 23.07.2010 (9.12.2008 - 14.05.06)