hG, Spare Parts: A Crime Has Many Stories in Buenos Aires

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The Son, A Short Story

Commissioned by the haudenschild Garage 2008

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 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.

– What?

– 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.

2. The owl-faced man

Chicken, meat and chicken, sweet corn husks, ham and cheese; soft meat, spicy meat; meat with meat!; human meat, nigger meat: drug-addicted cumbia-dancer meat; drunken quartet-playing Cordoban peasant meat; meat, meat from chickens fattened with an 800 watt bulb, pork meat: skinned, horrible, and in my head the crystal meth, the methamphetamines; the dung from Reinol with ten Pepsi “aspirin-cocaine-aniline, hummingbird-cocaine” aspirins; coke is everywhere; in La Boca we call it Bricklayer’s Sun or Gilda. You’ll always have drugs, wherever you go you’ll always want drugs.

“The Argentine Central”. That’s the name of the biggest base paste chop shop-laboratory in the starry blue and gold neighborhood.

The first time I went to buy stuff to resell, Luis Risco took me with him. He sent me a little text message. “The Central awaits us, I’ll pick you up in 15 minutes.” We met on the street and walked there.

– What a great name!, I said when he uttered it with his customary nasal voice. The Turco’s nasality is the fault of parents, because they don’t take their children to the speech therapist. A simple detail, with a simple solution, to pronounce words the right way, to make proper use of the language, something that’s ingrained for life. Parents are animals! They hear the child mispronouncing and they don’t do a thing!

There I discovered Gilda, who would get me out of the empanada factory and take me back to the action, to the fun of selling and taking all the coke in the world. Gilda was the name two ex Shinning Path Peruvians gave to the paste of the base paste, the leftovers mixed with ground glass and lime, something cheaper than crack. Resins of death, lime stones from the devil’s promiscuous liver. Silhouettes of the cheapest drug in the world… strictly ballroom… an homage to Gilda.

It was there in The Argentine Central that I became known as the Owl-Faced Man. Thanks to Luis Risco I left with 1,500 grams of Gilda in my backpack, a rock, a cobblestone that would feed me for a month.

2008. Buenos Aires, gentlemen, the city of drugs. I hit the streets with my rock, and I chopped it up into bits with Leo, a guy from La Maciel, and we cooked it up nice. 500 mangoes for him. 3,500 for myself. One can make 5,000, 4,000 lucas from a rock of Gilda. Things aren’t easy on the drug path. That night my face was sliced up with a cutter, disfigured, but “traced by an expert so I’d be easily recognized.” And I became well known.

They sliced open my face like a soy cutlet stuffed with cheese. The cold metal heating up with my own blood, burning, the rustic cut. They gave me a round face like an owl’s. And when I get high, my eyes become round like an owl’s. “There goes Owl Face,” they say when they see me high.

The worst part isn’t the cut-up job. They broke my ass. They brought over a donkey, a guy with a giant dick who’s hired to make narcotic officers talk, to hit them where it hurts, so they break their ass real good. The donkey pumped inside me with everything he had; I felt his enormous prong enter me all the way up to my belly, the donkey’s dick traveling through my insides. Generally, a donkey is someone who’s infected who gets excited when he transmits, an ex con who learned to break asses in prison. It’s not easy being an ass breaker; if you don’t know how to do it you can break your dick.

I know the guy who broke my ass. I know where he parks his. He lives in a tenement on Iberlucea street, with two drunk brothers and a 10 year-old girl whom they kidnapped from the neighborhood and spend the afternoons fucking. The entire neighborhood knows she’s there and nobody does anything about it.

I got fucked for being lame, for being a fucking gimp, for having trouble getting around. Gilda is a hit, I bought a car, a rifle, a machine gun and a handgun, and I went out stealing, and I hired a few assholes from the neighborhood, but instead of selling it, they would snort it all.

It was then that I got the tip about robbing La German, a Peronist printing press that belonged to the CTA (Argentine Workers Union).

– These bastards make a ton of money… Look at the machinery they have, they’re worth at least half a million a piece. We have to go in there with a truck and take everything. We’re going to need a Verga Brothers truck…

That night we took everything. We laughed with Leo and Risco, we couldn’t stop laughing. We laughed without stopping, I forgot I was a gimp, I forgot about my kids, I forgot about myself, I forgot to live…

We laughed and saw coins, scars, faces in the sky.

Leo yelled at me in the cabin of the Brothers Verga.

–Look Juan, I see your owl face in the sky among the clouds!

We couldn’t stop laughing our asses off.

We’d stick our arms and heads out the window of the truck to look up at the sky. The nauseating stench of the river hit us right in the face.

– Look at the face of Señor Owl Face!

– Look at the face of Señor Owl Face!

– I was called “Señor” by a poor little Indian who begged me to give him a discount on the shit! Señor, I need it and I only have three pesos! I beg you Señor! Or else, Don! Can you imagine Don Owl Face! Horrible! I gave him three grams just so he’d stop calling me that! Poor kid!

We looked up and we say my face, the face of God, and we drove head first into the river with the truck.

How much were those modern yankee machines worth? Half a million! The machines the yankees come up with to fool people!

Then they say that coke is the worst thing!

Let’s print a neighborhood newspaper to increase the consumption of drugs! Let’s print a family magazine: the drug family!

We laughed in the water, practically drowning, and we didn’t even notice. The cold shit-filled water. The unbearable stench of shit coming from the river. The bridge of La Boca seen from below, from the water, looks like the point of a star, with its rusted irons crossing over the horizon.

I ate a turd as if I were smoking a Havana cigar Fidel gave to a comrade; who in turn gave it to a militant; who in turn ended up with the cigar end in his mouth and gave it to me at the bottom of the dirty river. We’re saved by a ferryman taking people across to the Island.

The great press for printing our dreams operates every afternoon at the bottom of the river. The fish print the “Savage Shark” newspaper.

Turds, long live love; we swam in happiness; mineral water; river frogs; fucking submarines, tadpoles, frogs, rats, catfish, monstrous silversides, heads of blonde women decapitated at the side of the road; Friday’s sixty at La Boca.

Crazy fucking merchants, we saw the corpse of Rodolfo Walsh, untouchable, surrounded by shit; 50 years of shit before Coke became king. Fever. Meat. The Burrita of Ipacarai. Victor Bo. Rodolfo Walsh’s corpse with a gun in his hand waved at us, man, we were laughing to death.

– We’re too far gone!

The things one sees from the bottom of the river, the drugs, the drug princes, the goddaughters of the Shovel, and Rodolfo Walsh’s notebook, hounding us for being useless. We hallucinated, yelled out nonsense, said our names.

– I’m Rodolfo Walsh!

– And I’m Leo, from La Maciel!

– And I’m the laughter of Once, they know me as nigger Juan, Señor Owl Face, who stole 30,000 dollars from the Police, the neighborhood commissioner when he brought his old mother home from the doctor!

– And I’m Señor Owl Face, I’m dead, I’m living on borrowed time!

Without drugs existence crystallizes and you’re fucked, you can’t live without the chaos that drugs give you. And you start searching for it desperately, then you’re hooked, then you’re fucked, you want to flee the world and she’s the captain of the bullet train. And the bitch is always high and she’ll make you crash anywhere, as it happened to us in the river and as it happens to thousands in Buenos Aires or any city in the world. Coke spawns loyal, capricious children that are willing to die.

They gave me 15,000 dollars and I beat the shit out of my woman and I gave my kids to a fat lady who sold them to a German couple. When the mother of my children saw me come in all freaked out, she screamed at me, what are you doing here you son of a bitch, you fucking drug addict, and she went apeshit when she saw me grab the little ones and carry them off down the stairs to the street. She grabbed a knife and she cut me up all over, but Luis Risco was waiting for me on the corner in a pickup and we took the babies. Her desperate, pained screams still rebound, ricochet in my head. That was our life; born so the worst things would happen to us.

Floreal (after Floreal Ruiz) was five; Luismi (after Luis Miguel) was four; and Florencia was two. Ultranationalist, chivalrous princes who could all be called Margarita. Any girl named Margarita will be blessed by God.

My soul says: God bless you, Señor Owl Face!

Attention, everyone who takes drugs: one can’t live without drugs!

I’m going to tell you what she told me. I killed him like that because he used me fucked me and made me clean his house for only 10 pesos she told me that he was a mother fucking gimp because of what he did to me he used me and he threw me out on the street like I wasn’t good for anything else I’m going to kill him Margarita said with a chainsaw. I’m going to do it no Marga don’t say that you started to love him said her friend. Yes but now I hate him. They began investigating the case and a breakthrough came when they called margarita’s friend rita to testify. And she recorded her with an mp3.

The Geman couple never existed. They –my kids– must be somewhere in the interior. For 15,000 dollars that I blew away in a second. That’s why I’m pimping whores. I spend my life pimping from one place to the next. Searching for them. I know they’re here.

I manage some nice pussycats: Pamela, Flora and Luisa, a girl from Rojas, I put them up on the Internet forums for pussycats. There are thousands of forums where users post the worst comments. Dolys, Salomon, Escorts, or Famosas argentinas, are some of the online cathouses where you can find them.

“Flora contracts her vagina muscles real good.”

“Pamela sucks it better each day.”

Luis send me a little text message on my cell.

“At twelve at Teodoro’s Tenement”.

Pamela (Luis was up to here with Pamela) tipped me off that Elvis, the owner of the bowling alley, beats them regularly and isn’t happy that we’re putting them up. He’s afraid of losing three formidable and hard-working pussycats.

We took a taxi and a few blocks later found ourselves at the flat where Pamela worked. Elvis wasn’t there. We flashed a pair of pistols and they told us that at that hour he was at the nightclub on the Rotonda de San Justo.

When we arrived at the club we made a mess. I went in firing the machine gun I bought from two of Peron’s monkey Peronists. The bouncers dropped like flies. The first thing we did was switch off the lights; you have to turn off the lights: it’s the worst thing you can do to a worker of the night.

Elvis saw us and greeted us with a glass of scotch in his hand, with open arms. He didn’t stay standing long. We blew him away.

Hey, he got his bad taste from Ginzburg and his bad luck from Charly Garcia. He was. A whitewashed cumbia hero. 67 years old. He was. We gave him a one-way ticket to pigskinland to play the harp with Saint George.

…Margarita didn’t know that Rita was going to rat her out, because she was threatened to do so. Margarita was jailed because the gimp stole her kids and sold them in a whorehouse, that’s how fucked up this country is, it’s enough to drive you crazy. In the neighborhood of La Boca there was a woman named margarita and the neighbors said that she had something to do with the crime of the two-timing gimp from up the block because she was the only one who went to the gimp’s kiosk and they’d lock themselves inside with the shades down. The gimp turned up chopped in 4 pieces the head in the bathroom and the arms in the kitchen and the legs on the bed. And the rest of the body in the living room everyone knew margarita had been there an hour ago…

Elvis, girls; patent leather shoes, red silk shirt; gold suspenders, black suede pants; a brimmed hat, gift of Saul Ubaldini. Marvelous Ricky is going to be in mourning, he won’t have anybody to give him the drugs! The fifth Beatle or the second Mona Jimenez. 45 bullets from an M-45 machine gun! 45 bullets and a blood-soaked party! It’s still possible to ride off into the sunset, kid.

I walk under the sun, oh, oh; because our love is an emerald stolen by a thief, desperate!; I have nowhere to go without you’se! I can only say again, desperate!! Oh, oh, because I have to get out, I have to finally get away from you! I don’t know where my dreams have gone or my love!

3. Rafael Castillo’s Argentine glories

Elvis took everything, he made everything up. Storm. The Wawancó, the Rubi Trio; Fernando Madariaga; the San Javier Trio; with Paz Martinez inside. Today “there’s a voice on the phone, my heart rings”… Kuky Pumar, the future owner, the leader, dealer? Music. Little niggers, dressed in brown. A nigger dressed in brown doesn’t go well. A nigger should be dressed in white. To highlight his blackness!

. . . . .

I’m a character in the present of the Everlasting Past, who talks and kills, who went out to kill, to have a fight and a cup of coffee. After killing Elvis, I never saw Risco again. That night we kicked ass. We were driving around with a kilo of the best coke and we passed under the highway and saw some cardboard collectors getting high on the corner of Vuelta de Rocha, where abandoned ships go to die. The police were beating them! We got out with our guns like in a kidnapping movie I once saw, and we chased off the coppers with the machine gun. There was an old man drying a wound on his arm over a portable stove with a gas cylinder. His bone was sticking out and the old man said, it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t hurt, and he would take a swig from a carton of cheap wine. Every now and then he would get up with an enormous knife and stab the already rotting corpse of the black dog that had bitten him. He kept quoting phrases from a politician, maybe Peron, maybe Chavez. He spoke to ghosts; to the tents belonging to the drugged out cardboard collectors, far gone from this world, trying to sleep the thick sleep of their horrible existence. We kept the lights of the pickup truck on and saw children lying in the dirt, trash everywhere. Above, ultrasonic super modern cars raced along the highway. The automobile industry will never come to a halt, motherfuckers. Motherfuckers! Motherfuckers! Those who think coke is the worst thing. Luis Risco took out a bag of the best shit from Bolivia and told the sleeping zombies:
– People, lizard’s tail, from Evo Morales’ own fridge. From the middle of the plantation of Bolivarian oil-rich America, comes this deadly hit for all. Let’s toast, let’s sniff, kids. It’s a gift from a popular and revolutionary government. And he spread it in piles among the noses. I’ll never forget it, that’s a popular and revolutionary government.

… And some idiots say that drugs are the worst thing…

Above, the sons of bitches sped by like crazy. We got in our pickup and a while later Luis Risco placed a baby in my arms.

– I saved this one for you, Owl Face.

And he gave it to me.

“Her name is Maxi, old lady.” And he got off at the corner.

– Thanks for everything, Owl Face, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me…

I drove high as a kite, with a baby in my arms, gentlemen. It was a dream.

Then she killed him and left the country because she knew the crime she had committed all the neighbors in the building saw her oh margarita. She had been planning it for four months. Juan the gimp used to fuck her and she would say she wanted a little more for the service no you’re not worth more than ten you’re just another crazy bitch Juan the gimp said I’m going to get my revenge fucker I’m going to kill you she left the country she left for mexico and so no one finds me I’m going to have my face done so juan’s children will never find me all grown up they wanted to know who was the crazy bitch that killed their father.