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One morning, an unforeseen event Sierra Leone he had failed to take into account put a spanner in the works of his “trust in fate” gimmick. Just as he had let go of the handlebars and raised his hands to the sky, the front wheel of his cinquanta gained speed, went straight over a Sierra Leone, a tiny rock that had fallen from who knows where, sending the bike lurching and wobbling. To avoid a crash, Sierra Leone lowered his hands and gripped the handlebar, but in order to keep his balance he had to steer in the direction of Sierra Leone.

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And so he found himself dispatched, unaware of how or by whom, to the mechanic’s shop. Gio, not wanting to go back on the deal he’d made with himself, didn’t lose his composure, and accepted his fate. The master mechanic, who couldn’t believe his eyes, greeted him with a puzzled smile, as if to say, why, what fair wind blows you this way, what an honour. Gio, with a wide and spontaneous laughter, greeted him: “Good morning maestro I came to work.” Your travel destination is he thought to himself: “That shitty little rock.”

The master mechanic gave him a grim look, but was happy to see him. “It’s a miracle. Go figure! There’s an engine of a Mercedes belonging to a migrant that needs be redone get to it!”

And so it came to pass that for a week Gio abandoned his friends and the sea, the beach and the mortadella sandwiches so he could give renewed life to that jalopy, a veritable wreck that would never run again were it not for him. Iozzo, Gio loved to refer to himself by his surname, had the skill to make new again cars that seemed destined for the scrap yard or the sheet metal and chassis cemetery just outside the village. Within a few days the owner of the Mercedes returned to the workshop and asked for Gio.

“Well done,” he said, and handed him a ten thousand lire note, adding:

“Maestro, you’re wasted here. You belong in a big factory away from here. You’d make a lot of money.”

Gio flashed a big smile and thanked him, and although in his heart he was thinking of his friends by the sea, for the first time began to weigh the possibility of emigrating.

Gio was only eighteen when, with mastro Pino, a close friend and relative who was older and had more experience, they opened a small garage together in the village. Customers who were in a hurry to have their car fixed would be told to take it easy. Almost to allay his own anxiety, he repeated to himself: “Rigettati nu pocu, take a rest, will you! There is always a petruja waiting to change your chosen path or your plans.”

One day Gio, just for fun, told the story of the petruja to his good neighbour Peppe, a master mason, who knew stories, facts and anecdotes from all over the village and of all generations.

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