Chieti, 2 11 1953


Conscience is the best judge.


Ton, ton, ton: I woke up with a start. I could hear screams: Water! Water! Please, over here. My stable, please hurry. The fire is reaching the hayloft. I jumped from the bed, I opened the window: in the moonlit night a bright light shone on everything, while a strong and acrid smell of fire filled my room.
The voices were reaching me more clearly; the peculiar peals of the bell made by a clapper dragged against the rim of the bell (a danger signal in my town) hurt my ears.
-Water, water!- repeated the half dressed men , while some women with loose (disheveled) hair rushed to bring water.
Many looked from the balconies (windows): -What is happening? What is burning?- -Straw! Stables! The town is in danger! - Were the replies.
Hearing this, many rushed to help, others closed the windows and went back to sleep.
I put on my trousers (pants) and went out: on Colle Rosso the flames, fueled by a breeze, were spectacular. Already some of the stables were in danger and some haylofts were already burning.
There were an endless coming and going, screams, calls, running, while all along the church bells were calling the people. The din was magnified in the night.
Almost all the men of the town were around the flames and stepped forward to throw buckets of water on the fire or to beat the flames with green branches which had been soaked in water, or stepped back a few feet when the flames rose toward them; then they pushed forward again to fight back; like boxers or black dancers around a bonfire after a capture of a crocodile.
In the confused crowd I spotted "the finest members of the secret police, or as many called them, the undercover agents", that is to say the forest rangers who asked for information and scribbled something in a notebook.
Meanwhile the sun had come out and was shining on the painful sight, the men continued to ask for water and invoking at the same time some divine help.
By now the fire was almost out and the men were cursing "the son of ********** of ********", namely, me. The finest member (?), as it could be expected, came to my house to summon me for that evil deed. Colle Rosso was, and still is the place where the wild boys (at that time like the son of ********** of ********) used to go to explode tin cans filled with gas given to us by the miners.
We used to make a hole in the ground of the same size of the can, we used to put gas in it (what gas?) add some drops of water, then we covered the hole with the open end of the can, we placed a large stone on the can, and then lit a fire around the can; when the tin can got hot it would blow up sending the stone up in the air with a huge explosion and spreading fire, which created a dangerous situation because of the surrounding hay.
Now, since I was considered the greatest "shooter" among the boys of the town, and that "pygmy" often used to trick me when he used to find me involved in some stupid prank, the blame was given to me, and my parents had to resign to pay for the damage. But I didn't get away with it: my parents set a "dog bed" in the cellar, they tied me to an old broken barrel which smelled of wine dregs, and for two days they gave me only bread and water.
One can imagine how I spent those two days and, moreover, when my father or mother brought me "the ration" they would harshly scold me, but at least I did not have a guilty conscience since, in that occasion, perhaps the only one, only my conscience really knew that I was innocent.