- THE SON: A Short Story, Washington Cucurto, 2008 (English)
- Chapter 1: The Son
- Chapter 2: The Owl-Faced Man
- Chapter 3: Rafael Castillo’s Argentine Glories
- EL HIJO: Corto Relato, Washington Cucurto, 2008 (Espanol)
- Capítulo 1: El Hijo
- Capítulo 2: El Señor Cara de Lechuza
- Capítulo 3: Glorias Argentinas de Rafael Castillo
THE SON: A Short Story, Washington Cucurto, 2008 (English)
Chapter 1: The Son
What bothered me the most about our relationship (things were going downhill) was that she had to tell me for a second time that she wouldn’t have the fucking child. After an overwhelming silence, she told me she was afraid and asked me to accompany her to the hospital. And here I could begin another story, or the tragic story of our separation. The hospital in question where I was to take her was, of all places, the Rivadavia Hospital.
I was already sick and tired of living this shit life in a one-room apartment in La Pajarera, in the neighborhood of Once, in a 21-story building full of immigrants. I didn’t want to know about anything else. I wanted to go back to Quilmes and curse the day I plopped out from between my mother’s legs and left there. I discovered that everything that shines, shines because it’s far away. My life was falling apart, like the country, with its cattle and soy problems, its agricultural problems; its roadblocks and its air of restlessness. Milk, bread, yogurt and coffee disappeared from the supermarket shelves. This made Buenos Aires a very expensive city. It already resembled Lima. But I had her, stuck to me. I had my work cut out; the job at the jeans factory saturated me; but I would steal a pair of pants and sell them from my pad in Once. They were Levis, which like a fucking idiot I sold at domestic prices. Word spread and people lined up to buy a pair of jeans. “There’s a nut who’ll sell you a pair of Levis for 20 pesos.” And that gave me a little extra money right away.
Everything was shit. I had left my wife and my three kids to go live with her (I met her at the factory), but I didn’t want to know jack shit about her life anymore. Nothing she did or felt interested me. She turned into an object in my life. One of many that filled our house. Now I’m sitting in this fucking living room and she matters nothing to me. It’s a personal expense. It’s what I always think about; the object I’ve focused all my thoughts on for 15 years. How to get out of my job; make money. Stop them from taking advantage of me. Sometimes, at the least expected time of day, when I sit down to write a story, it’s with the idea of becoming rich and famous. I submit stories to all the contests in Spain, but nothing. I lack vocation. I have to write a great novel, like Roberto Bolaño did. But I’m incapable of writing it. I barely write these poor stories while I wait for the lazy ass doctor to come out and tell us what to do. The worst thing in life is to wait for a doctor to tell you what you have to do. It’s simple: buy a rifle and go out and kill people. End your life and the lives of others! Now that’s a great deed! To all you penniless fleas in the world I say, buy a rifle.
The bastard doesn’t tell me anything. He comes with her, runs his hand over her hair, greets her, and gives her an appointment for next week. I’d like to spit in that rat’s face! All doctors are rats by nature! He shoots her a lapidary look, and I leave (she’s already a burden, a backpack in my life) to sell stolen jeans in Once. The first thing I did was to exchange a pair of jeans with Luis Risco, a thug, a kick ass dealer: a pair of jeans for three grams of coke!
– Man, straight from the fridge of Evo Morales himself, scorpion’s tail, said the bastard by way of apology, while trying the jeans on top. Done. Undone.
I inhaled them in two hits, right there in front of Risco and the policeman who stood on the corner staring at the expensive sneakers in the window of a sports shop. Hey copper, how many hours do you have to put looking after the owners’ businesses to afford a pair of sneakers like that? 36, 48, 65? That’s a lot of hours for a pair of sneakers, a lot of work; it’s easier to take a bribe, to break into the store with a crowbar and take them in a second, effortlessly. That’s the secret of stealing, to take everything without asking for anybody’s permission. Gentlemen, don’t talk to me about democracy, institutions, ha.
I don’t know what the yankees have against coke. Maybe they want it all for themselves. Are those pigs so selfish? New York, fucking hell. I was there once, a long time ago. I traveled the subway, fucking hell, all the niggers stare at you with hate, people everywhere hate each other, what a piece of shit that city, where it’s impossible to live. New York: go to the Bronx, Harlem; you can’t breathe there.
Coke is the great motivator, without a doubt. She’s the best friend ever invented. You do three grams and you’re gone, you go insane.
Thanks to her, I couldn’t stop talking, and I’d sell the jeans for 300 pesos in a flat second, snort them and my nose was in ecstasy… I take communion and I’m in ecstasy. It was the cruelest winter. Luis Risco came up to me and said, let’s set up a business, Cucu.
– Simple, moving merchandise from Once to Maciel Island.
It had been the cruelest winter in years, I repeat, so you’ll feel the cold. It was misses Cristina de Kirchner’s third term. The river froze for the first time in years. The dirty river was a sheet of ice where the children played. The ice was so thick that the cars crossed over it on their way to Uruguay.
It was the best job of my life. The most dangerous, the best paid and the simplest one of all human jobs is to sell drugs. Long live the illegal sale of drugs, gentlemen, it’s an alternative, a struggle against capitalism’s exploitation of labor. It’s a shortcut to the money that’s always waiting for us around the bend in the city of drugs. This is the city of coke, gentlemen. Not Medellin. Not DF. Not La Paz, gentlemen. In Miami nobody takes drugs. No, gentlemen, the capos, the biggest cartel, is in Buenos Aires. The phoniest city. The druggiest city. And from here they take it to Spain, where it’s out of control, where coke is more important than the King, who’s also an addict. Up to what point is taking coke a matter of the heart, a sentimental, Freudian question? One should never stop taking it.
– You’re going to become like those insects who stop smoking and drop dead the next day!, Luis Risco hollered when I told him I wanted to clean up.
– Don’t be an animal, don’t believe what you read in the papers or see on the news–corporations that belong to the cartel owners themselves. Coke doesn’t kill anybody, man, politicians kill; they are the real scum of this earth. What kills is hunger, inequality, democracy, loneliness and finally desperation…
Buenos Aires is the city of coke, I should know, I made almost a hundred trips each night through the streets of Palermo, Belgrano, delivering coke on a bike, a crazy ass delivery service, gentlemen. Who orders 10 grams of shit, in Lima or Cali, at 5 in the morning! All drugs end up here, whether they’re made in Cibao, in Quindio, in Piribibuy, in Ciudad del Este, in Alto, it all ends up here, in the hundred or so porteño neighborhoods. As far as Bolivia and that rotten nigger Evo are concerned, we have to get rid not of their hydrocarbons, but their borders. No to gas, yes to coke. Coke is the best gas. The best job in my life, and the only thing I had to do was cross the river following the shadow line that the bridge of La Boca cast over the ice thanks to the moonlight.
– Listen up, snot nose, where the light draws a line with its shadow, that’s where you have to cross, because that’s where the ice is thick.
I stuffed my clothes with little bags of coke and I crossed over to the Island at two in the morning. There is nothing more threatening and black and solitary than the whiteness of the ice at two in the morning! I crossed over to the island and I delivered the package. I became addicted to her, the free coke, chicken and French fries. The relationship improves steadily, worsening. I fell down a bunch of times; the sheet of ice was slippery. I would reach the other side all beaten up, as if I’d been pummeled by a gang. Until one day I learned how to walk on ice. One can learn anything, even how to carry coke across an ice rink, which is life.
Because of my bad luck or my own stupidity, I hit myself so hard that I broke my hip. I spent the whole night freezing my ass off until a bicycle deliveryman saw me and rescued me. You can’t trust anybody. He had me rescued. He stole my coke and called the cops… and from there I was taken to the hospital… and goodbye to my days as a coke dealer.
The ambulance carted me along Pinzon street, and I caught a whiff of the aroma from Abundio’s pizzeria. What happened after that isn’t even worth telling. I spent six months in a cast. When they removed it my waist was all black and full of hair; it looked like a part from another body; it didn’t feel like my body.
– It’s a fungus, the doctor said. It’ll go away on its own in a few months, just give it some sun and don’t cover it anymore. Do some sports, play ball with your friends from the neighborhood. Do you have any friends in your neighborhood?
Doctors are shit. They should all be killed. I said it before, they’re useless; they can’t even administer a drip, give you a shot, or prescribe an aspirin. I’d rather die before seeing a doctor.
She had finally been scraped out and was doing fine. I was fired from the jeans factory and could no longer find another job. My three kids lived in a one-room apartment in Almagro. They started going hungry. Life was giving me another slap in the face. I became a gimp, and was lucky to get a job at a kiosk, in spite of my hip injury. However, I spent my nights wide awake, working the nightshift at the kiosk. Some two-bit thieves took me for a nobody. They sized me up, saw that I couldn’t run after them or throw a punch without losing my balance and falling on the ground. So these little punks would come and lean against the pillar in the kiosk, and they’d start eating the candy.
– What’s up gimp? Can you still fuck at least?
They’d rip me off big time. The first time I chased them away, hopping on one leg. I didn’t get far, and what was worse, when I returned to the kiosk I found I had been totally cleaned out. First lesson from the master terrorist of life: never abandon your job post or your place in bed, because someone else will take it over.
The owner only said one thing to me:
– Don’t let it happen again, boy.
It happened 5 more times and the owner fired me. The destiny of every human being is to be given the boot, kicked out from here or there, or from home, that’s destiny, write it down with a fluorescent marker, thrown off the face of the earth, the essence of man is to be a nuisance. Expelled, barred from the earth.
When I passed by the kiosk it was being attended by one of the little thieves that used to harass me. I thought of doing the same, but I couldn’t even do that.
I found a job folding covers for empanadas. 5 cents for each folded empanada cover. A miserable pay, but it’s what was within my grasp. A job for invalids. The empanada shop had a beautiful name: The Noble Crease.
One always goes back to cocaine… But for the time being I won’t. I’ll continue with the empanadas.
(My great shortcoming in writing these stories is that I think that what I write is interesting, or that it could be of interest to anybody. And that’s an egomaniacal idiocy! One has to write believing the other person is getting bored, in order to be clear. And go quickly. One has to write with heavy hands, holding one’s breath, to get everything out as quickly as possible. Let the drunks do the thinking! Bore yourself you son of a bitch! Because in order to write something that’s worth telling, one has to put up with 50 years of boring, poor sentences, not a year less. “Fluid, drowsy, deaf, almost without light.” Faulkner.)
. . . . .
Sometimes, on certain mornings when the sun is shinning and you’re in bed, you feel certain that you’re never going to walk again; and I was never going to get over my hip problem. In spite of everything, I got up to mould empanadas at The Noble Crease. One morning one of the owners arrived and moved us to another location, at the intersection of San Luis and Larrea. Once! There, things began to change.