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He is a colleague from the office. He is very skinny, small in stature and always dressed in grey. His name is Pellegrini but he likes to be called Frankenstein. In fact, many of his friends indulge him and indeed, they call him Frankenstein.

He is a model employee. His desk is in front of mine and, often, I watch him as he works. He is tenacious, persistent and hardworking. However, I often fear that his level of intelligence leaves a lot to be desired. How could you explain, otherwise, why his face contorts with a look of intense concentration, as if faced with an insurmountable problem, when dealing with the simplest tasks? Look how he presses his hands against the glass desk and leaves a temporary halo of moisture; look how he gnaws at the wood of his pencil; look how he rolls his eyes; look how he wipes the sweat from his brow; look how the vein in his neck throbs. In short, look how Frankenstein almost completely lacks in intelligence, but - to his misfortune - not completely, and that, consequently, he is aware of his limitation: see, therefore, a man so unfortunate, I feel sorry for Frankenstein.

However, above all, I feel afraid. I ask myself the question: what dark resentments stir in the primitive brain of Frankenstein? What amorphous desires of ill-defined vengeance provoke him to form an innocent plan in his mind which he cannot completely understand?

A few days ago, Frankenstein caught me observing him in his suffering. A slow and heavy stare fell upon me. There, in the depths of those eyes, shone a reddish cry of cruelty. Oh my God, I thought afterwards, why do they call him Frankenstein?

"Tell me, Pellegrini, why do they call you Frankenstein?"

Frankenstein smiled:

"It's just friendly banter…"

However, I think Frankenstein was hiding something from me. On a certain Saturday in the afternoon, completely by chance, I saw him: in Florida Street and in broad daylight, Frankenstein was walking stiffly, without bending his knees. With his arms extended, his face of feigned malevolence furthered his menace, down to the tips of his fingers, with which he pretended to strangle people who crossed his path. Some of them moved out of the way, more surprised than scared, and once they moved past the presumed danger, turned their heads with a scornful smile towards Frankenstein. This was because, in truth, his trivial appearance did not succeed in impressing anyone.

Now then, does Frankenstein realise that those contemptuous smiles, that those smiles, strip away all the impact of his menacing behaviour? And furthermore, do those smiling people have even the slightest idea of the true character of Frankenstein? Without doubt, the answer is no, it so happens that they haven't seen how he suffers in the face of the problems he must consider in his office job: if they had thought about it - like I have done many times-, they wouldn't dare to mock Frankenstein.

What is worse, not even my work colleagues seem to have noticed these peculiarities. They often make jokes at his expense, they pat him on the back, they call him Frankenstein. He laughs, seeming to enjoy the friendliness, the friendship. "Everything's fine", I tell myself after.

However, Frankenstein's friends talk too quickly, using ellipsis and implying things…, they allude mischievously to that which is known by all, taking pleasure in frivolous wordplay. I, therefore, as I pretend to be absorbed in my papers, tremble before the irresponsible temerity of those people. I wish I could tell them: "Speak more slowly, in full sentences; be explicit with everything; renounce subtlety: can't you see that Frankenstein doesn't understand!"

I know that this precaution, which ought to be followed, would avoid a complete and utter catastrophe. However, I abstain from intervening. In reality, what would become of me if Frankenstein knew that I was aware of his terrible limitations? "The best thing to do is to keep quiet", I tell myself, "and to not attract, upon myself alone, the wrath of Frankenstein."

[From El mejor de los mundos posibles, Buenos Aires, Plus Ultra, 1976.]

Argentine writer known for his engaging stories with satire and elements of the fantastical.