Confined to bed by an illness, Lorbio has put up two large, parallel mirrors in the hospital ward: one covers the left wall and the other the right wall. In this way the convalescent sees himself mirrored from head to toe from one part of the room to the other and so can delude himself that he is in a ward for three patients, rather with many more beds, in the company of other patients who moreover bear a striking resemblance to himself. Lorbio has named his neighbours Lefty and Righty: Righty seems slightly younger than him and Lefty is the elder of the three. Otherwise all three carry out the same tasks, or almost, at the same time with the same movements. In this sense one can say that no-one has ever seen three warders reach such perfect harmony. And what’s more they are very discrete: if Lorbio speaks with Righty, Lefty turns his head the other way; and Righty does the same as soon as his fellow warder addresses Lefty. When Lorbio gets up to show Lefty the new Tarzan novel that his female cousin brought him and he offers it to him to compare it with the other one that Lefty received just a little earlier from his cousin, Righty quietly gets up and turning his shoulders towards them both also shows his own Tarzan novel to the other neighbour. And it is not a case of him alone because in the enormous hall, as far as the eye can see, all the convalescents have risen at the same time to compare their Tarzan novels. But Lorbio takes no notice of those further in the distance, first of all because he has bad eyesight and then he doesn’t even know who they are nor what their names are.
Sometimes when the sister arrives Lorbio, to play around a bit with her, pretends not to see her, greeting the sister of Righty instead who at that very moment has entered through the other door: Righty has immediately understood the joke and instead of greeting his nurse says hello to Lorbio’s. And so as not to fail his comrades, Lefty turns to the other side and greets another sister who has entered by yet another door. Lorbio rather enjoys this greeting joke, especially when the nurses, perhaps because they are jealous beings and are not very happy when their patients pretend to ignore them, all shake their heads together and the entire hospital ward seems to tremble under the wings of a limitless flock of linen albatrosses.
A few times Lorbio, from the same bed has tried to teach Lefty the game of morra, but without any luck as after their leprosy left both of them without any ears they are both deaf, and so for that matter is Righty. So in spite of them moving in unison, in reality each one of them is constrained to live, as it were closed within themselves. At night, though, it is as though they were all together. Lorbio has a candle: when the pain doesn’t allow him to sleep he lights his candle and in the festive light of all those candles lighted at the same time, astride the bed, he hitches up his nightgown and dances in a daredevil manner, a dance imitated by all the other patients of the hall, also standing on their beds: they call it the dance of the candles.