It was pitch-black and the windshield wiper was dragging the dirt up and down the glass. I was leaning forward as I drove, zigzagging my way between the puddles, with the headlights darting here and there as if looking for a fugitive in the undergrowth. A slow song was playing on the radio, almost drowned out by the sound of the fan heater. The mobile phone on the passenger seat lay silent. ‘Madame’ was unlikely to call back. She was a night-owl but it was too late even for her. Another missed chance to have a drink with her, I thought to myself, convinced that she would have liked to explore those mysterious places.
Personally, I love industrial areas: they are my patch; I feel at home there. The cracked asphalt that gleams in the light, rising up to form a crust when it crosses the rail tracks. The tall outlines of the towers and bridges, blacker than the sky outside the window. The cranes that rise up like the necks of dinosaurs from behind the illuminated smoke. The strange lights: too bright or almost impossible to see, dying out the further they get from the city walls. And then the electronic gates, and the cabins of the nightwatchmen. And, every now and then, a parked car here or there: lovers hiding between stacks of pipes and deserted train carriages.
Once again, on that night it seemed that everything had been arranged there like a stage set. By the gangways of the ships, the yellow lights framed the low, round fuel tanks. The grass was coated in a layer of grease and a transparent mist rose from the reeking water.
Suddenly I felt more tired than usual. I pulled over and turned off the headlights and the radio. I put back the seat and dozed off. In my dream I had a left-luggage ticket in my pocket, and I was standing still on a platform, waiting for an assassin with a deformed face to turn up with a hostage at gunpoint. A suitcase full of cash, in exchange for ‘Madame’, who was huddled up, frozen. That night was to become the central scene of our story. The moment when there should have appeared on set a Chinese gangster in a blue, double-breasted jacket, a hat and dark glasses. A blonde, a little shaken, with rope marks on her wrists, and swollen eyes full of melancholy irony. And Marlowe standing right in front of them, impassable, with Bogart’s sneer on his lips....
from the exhibition catalogue Venezia-Marghera, 47’ Venice Biennale, 1997