The old lady in the wheelchair smoking her third cigarette out in her balcony hears the gunshot.
The old lady in the wheelchair lives three floors below us.
I know because I have walked these six flights of stairs, separating her world from ours, every day to make a connection: give her chapters of encyclopedias about everything.
My older brother works night shifts in a library twenty-seven minutes away from home. He wakes up at eleven at night, eats his breakfast – usually a cucumber or a banana – and bikes his way to the library.
Tired-eyes hands him the keys and leaves by midnight and then my brother is alone, with 1,083 books. And a photocopying machine.
This morning at around eight – slightly earlier than usual – he came back with the final chapter of the last encyclopedia. Although barely readable, the copy is just as beautiful as the original. I know because I visited the library once with my brother and he had chosen that very chapter – Observing the Skies – and we stayed up all night long reading it together. I snatched the copy – a thick packet of sixty-seven pages stapled twice at the top left side – and ran to his big wooden closet where thousands of papers once slept together in harmony but now only the one in my hand will.
Every day he would see me carrying a chapter down to the old lady in the wheelchair and he would realize it was a brilliant as it is a painful idea, to connect.
In a few hours, I will give away the final chapter.
In a few hours, my brother will shoot himself.
The old lady in the wheelchair puts out her third cigarette and starts reading and observing the skies.