Cliché

Au mur, il y a une photo. Non, pardon, il y a des photos mais je n’en vois qu’une, la seule en noir et blanc dans une série de portraits. Sur toutes les autres, le kitch de la tenue des protagonistes jure sur un fond pastel rose ou bleu.
Au mur blanc, cette photo en noir blanc, plus grande que les autres. Les contrastes sont forts et le grain soigné. Son auteur est un mec qui sait y faire. Au centre de la photo, un homme droit comme un « i ». à ses côtés, un cheval au pelage brillant et une profondeur de champ qui court jusqu’aux montagnes.
Il est habillé de vêtements simples et fluides dans lesquels son corps noueux de vieil homme paraît se perdre. Sous le chapeau de paille, son visage buriné reste éclairé par le soleil qui, par un subtil jeu d’ombres, souligne les rigoles du temps. Sa mine est sévère mais sans fâcherie. On y lit de la fierté et non de l’arrogance. Le cigare entre les dents participe sans doute de cette posture noble. Ses yeux clairs adressent un regard franc. Ils sont animés d’une lueur si vive que l’on pourrait un instant percevoir de la couleur dans ce tableau monochrome.
On m’indique qu’il s’agit du frère. Il s’appelle Marcello. Comme beaucoup ici, il travaille à la plantation de tabac.
Dans le soir qui tombe, je me surprends à fredonner une chanson qui porte son nom et m’emmène vers des souvenirs anciens. Détachant mes yeux du soleil qui rougit par la fenêtre, je reviens à la photo. Elle est belle. Il est si digne.
Et voici qu’elle s’anime, prend des couleurs et parle.

Par la fenêtre ouverte à droite des portraits vient de me saluer Marcello. Il rentre du boulot.
Même dignité, même cigare, même chemise ouverte sur le torse hâlé. Il est peut-être moins vieux. Son regard aussi vert que sévère m’intimide.
Je m’attends à une poignée de main virile et quelques grognements en guise de bonsoir.

Mais Marcello me claque la bise. Il me parle sans s’apercevoir que je ne comprends rien. Il me parle avec un fort accent et les mains. Tant et si bien que je me retrouve à ses côtés sur la terrasse.
Il s’installe dans l’un des rocking-chairs, s’y balance avec satisfaction puis m’invite d’un geste à l’imiter. Je m’y assois lentement et impulse un imperceptible mouvement au fauteuil à bascules comme pour me faire oublier.
Marcello se marre. Je ne sais pas pourquoi. Je suppose qu’il est content.
Son rire se tait mais ses yeux gardent un sourire presque polisson. Sans un mot, il me regarde et lève un doigt à la hauteur de son visage, à la manière d’un magicien qui appelle à la concentration sur son prochain tour. Il tire de sa poche trois larges feuilles de tabac. Ses doigts déchirent, s’animent, tassent et roulent deux cigares impeccables. Marcello est un magicien.
Il me tend l’un des deux. Je refuse. Il insiste et l’allume pour moi. Je tousse. Il me fait signe de ne pas avaler. Je me détends, me balance ; j’y prends goût. Puis il me sert un verre de rhum. J’hésite, y trempe les lèvres. Bientôt j’y prends goût aussi.
Il se marre à nouveau. Et se met à parler avec une telle alacrité que, sans savoir ce qu’il raconte, je ris aussi. J’observe qu’à plusieurs reprises, tout en parlant, il soulève la ceinture de son pantalon, y plonge l’une de ses larges mains et se remet les couilles en place. Il faut croire que le balancement un peu franc du fauteuil les déstabilise car il répète ce geste avec le naturel de quelqu’un qui se recoiffe. Il me pose quelques questions et répète chacune de mes réponses deux ou trois fois en hochant la tête comme quelqu’un qui vient d’apprendre une chose importante.

Souvent aussi il se tait comme pour mieux savourer l’instant. Il me jette alors un regard complice et semble attendre que j’approuve d’un sourire la beauté du ciel étoilé, le doux mouvement du rocking-chair, la sensation du rhum qui coule dans la gorge et le sang, la saveur du cigare, la douceur de l’air et les montagnes qui se dessinent au loin dans le ciel noir.

Marcello est bien l’homme digne et franc que j’ai d’abord observé en noir et blanc. Mais la photo ne disait pas ceci : son goût de vivre et de partager.

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