28 de diciembre de 2005
Eulalio siempre pensó que la guerra había sido dura: no fue una guerra por dinero, fue una guerra por la libertad, hermano contra hermano. Se alistó al ejército rojo como voluntario. Se fue a luchar al frente dejando atrás a su mujer y sus dos hijos.
La república iba poco a poco perdiendo territorio, y su mujer y sus hijos tuvieron que irse, tuvieron que huir de su casa y refugiarse en Valencia, donde el gobierno de la república se había trasladado; pero dos años después ni siquiera la costa era suficiente para estar a salvo. Entonces volvieron a Madrid, al frente, a buscar a un hombre cuyas cartas se habían perdido hacía mucho, un hombre que quizá ya estuviera muerto. Le encontraron en un pueblo madrileño. Alquilaron una casita y vivieron a tan sólo tres kilómetros de donde caían las bombas. Era una casita encantadora. Los niños iban a las escuelas del frente. Eulalio incluso tenía un amigo ruso, de los brigadas internacionales. El ruso solía llamar a Eulalio “padre”, porque todos le conocían por su apellido, Fraile, y el ruso pensaba que era un cura. Y el ejército siguió luchando hasta que todo estuvo perdido.
Después llegó un edicto. Todos debían volver directamente a los lugares en los que vivían antes de la guerra. Y todos volvieron a casas destruídas, volvieron a las tripas vacías y a los niños llorando, volvieron a la esclavitud.
Y en cuanto Eulalio y su familia llegaron a su pueblo, la policía fue a buscarle. Él salió para ver que querían; le ordenaron que fuera con ellos, y fue. Le metieron en una habitación del ayuntamiento y le pegaron palizas hasta dejarle inconsciente. Luego le pegaron aún más. Nunca se lo contó a nadie excepto al marido de su nieta, con los ojos llenos de lágrimas mientras contaba la historia. Probablemente serían las mismas lágrimas de rabia que cuando le estaban pegando: era socialista y por eso estaba desnudo y le estaban dándo una paliza; era socialista y por eso le habían dejado inconsciente. Y a saber qué más.
Después de eso, nunca volvió al lugar donde había nacido. Esta era España después de la Guerra Civil. Esta era cualquier persona en cualquier lugar después de cualquier guerra.
Cuando acabaron con la paliza, le mandaron a la cárcel en una ciudad. Su mujer, Josefa, también fue sentenciada por bordar una bandera republicana. Él tenía que cumplir un año, su mujer sólo seis meses. Los niños se quedaron con alguien, era lo que pasaba en esa época: padres ausentes, escuelas católicas y hambre. Luego soltaron a su mujer. Justo cuando la dejaron marchar se presentó en la cárcel de hombres para ver a su marido. No era el día de las visitas. Dijo su nombre al guardia, y éste fue a comprobarlo. El guardia se dio cuenta de quién era, y de que la acaban de soltar de la cárcel de mujeres una hora antes. Aún así, no fue demasiado duro con ella y la dejó entrar. Josefa tuvo suerte, había gente a quien mataban por menos de eso.
Después de la cárcel, Josefa se dedicó al estraperlo e hizo algo de dinero. Los niños y ella estuvieron viviendo aquí y allá, trabajando a veces para unas gitanas. Luego le dieron trabajo como repartidora. Todo iba bastante bien, hasta el día que la dijeron que habían matado a su marido durante una fuga.
Ocurrió durante una noche oscura y fría. Normalmente, las noches son oscuras y frías después de una guerra, ya sea verano o invierno, ya esté nublado o haya una enorme luna blanca. Una liger brisa barría la ciudad. Era tarde, no había nadie, no se escuchaba nada. Sólo leves chapoteos que venían del río, quizás fueran los peces. Era una noche tranquila. Y de repente, los disparos. Y los gritos. Y más disparos. Disparos hasta que todos menos uno estuvieron muertos. Y luego el río llevaba la sangre roja de los cadáveres que ya se habían hundido.
Todos habían muerto, las noticias corrieron como la pólvora y llegaron a Josefa. El pelo se le volvió blanco y dejó de tener la regla con tan sólo treinta años. Dicen que puede pasar después de una gran impresión. Al día siguiente fue a la cárcel, a preguntar. Le dijeron que había habido una fuga la noche anterior, que los prisioneros habían estado planeándolo durante días. No la dejaban pasar, pero le dijeron que habían quedado un par de hombres, y que uno de ellos era su marido. Esa noche, Eulalio se había quedado en la celda. Solía decir que no había que confiar en nadie que no fuera uno mismo. Que había que ser paciente. Y él esperó, y a él no le mataron los soldados que estaban esperando al otro lado del río. En realidad había sido una fuga preparada por los propios carceleros. Él les había dicho a sus compañeros que él no iba a arriesgar su vida sólo por no esperar un mes. Eulalio siempre había tenido algo de adivino... incluso podía predecir el tiempo mirando las estrellas. Y parece que aquella noche oscura y fría leyó la palabra muerte escrita en el vacío firmamento de posguerra.
He always thought the war had been hard. This was not a war for money, this was a war for freedom, this was brother against brother. He joined the red army as a volunteer. He went to the front leaving a wife and two kids behind.
The republic of Spain was losing territory little by little, and his wife and children had to leave, had to flee from their home and go to Valencia, where the government of the Republic had moved; but after two years not even the coast was enough to be safe. They had to go to Madrid, to the front, to look for a man whose letters had been lost long ago, a man who might have been already dead. They found him in the front, in a little village. They could even live together in a modest house just 3 km from where the bombs were dropping. A lovely home indeed. The kids went to the “front schools”. They even had a Russian friend. He was one of the international brigadiers. The Russian used to called Eulalio “father”, just because his surname meant something like “priest”. And their army kept on fighting until everything was lost.
Then an edict came. Everyone should go right back to the places where they used to live before the war. And they went back into a home that was destroyed, back into the empty bellies and the kids crying, back to servitude.
And just as they got there, the police came to their home. They asked for him. He went to see what they wanted. They wanted him to go with them, and he went. They put him in a room of the town hall and beat him until he was unconscious. Then they beat him again. He never told anyone but his granddaughter’s husband about this. His eyes filled with tears as he told this story. And probably he cried while he was there. He was a socialist and he was naked and he had been beaten unconscious. And who knows what else. After that, he never went back to the place where he was born. This was Spain after the Civil War. This is anyone anywhere after any war.
After that, he was sent to jail in a big town. His wife, Josefa, too: she had sewn a republican flag. He had to be there for one year; she was there for six months. The kids were with someone, it used to be like that. No parents, catholic schools and hunger. Then his wife was released from prison. Right after that, she went to the men’s prison to see her husband. It was not visiting day. She said she had just come from a village, that she had just had a kid and she couldn’t go back any other day. She told her name, and the policeman went and checked it. He realized who she was, and that she had just been released about an hour before. He wasn’t harsh to her and allowed her to get in. In fact, she was quite lucky, people died for less than that.
After prison she got involved in the black market and got some money. She and the kids were living with some gypsies at the time, working for them. Then she got a job as a deliverer. Everything was going quite fine until the day they told her that her husband had been shot in the escape.
It was a dark and cold night. Nights are usually dark and cold after a war, no matter if it’s summer or winter, no matter if it’s cloudy or there’s a big white moon. It was cold and dark anyway. A slight breeze came over the city. It was late, not a soul, not a sound. Only slight splashes from the river, maybe the fish. Still night. And suddenly, shots. And cries. And more shots. Shots until everyone but one was dead. And then the river carried the red blood of the corpses that had already sunk.
Everyone was dead. The news spread, and Josefa heard them. Her hair went white and her period stopped when she was just 30. They say it can happen after a big shock. The next day she went to the prison. They told her that there had been an escape that night, that the prisoners had been talking about it for days, planning everything. They wouldn’t allow her in, but they told her that there were a couple of men left, and that one of them was her husband. He had stayed in his cell all night. Never trust anyone who’s not you, he used to say. Never mind waiting. And he waited, and he was not killed by the soldiers waiting on the opposite side of the river. It was a fake escape, prepared from above. He had said he wouldn’t risk his whole life just to not wait one month. He had always been a good predictor. He could even read the stars. And it seems that on that cold and dark night he read the word “death” written in the empty postwar sky.
22 de diciembre de 2005
El primer día allí hizo sol, se nubló, llovió e hizo frío. Andrés se perdió, y yo no era capaz de encontrarle. Estaba mala, quería vomitar y creo que nunca antes me había sentido tan sola. Compré un edredón y una lámpara, los únicos “muebles” que tuve en la habitación durante un par de semanas. Mi casa era una vivienda vacía de tres habitaciones en la que sólo dos puertas se abrían.
Días después llegó Kasia. Una polaca de pelo bicolor que vino con padre, madre, novio y veinte mil maletas. Antes de verla a ella vimos su toalla, su jabón y la comida que había dejado en el frigorífico. Pensábamos que era un hombre, pero no, sólo le gustaba el bacon. Meses después me contó que se había puesto muy triste cuando sus padres se tenían que ir, así que le compraron unas botas caras para que pasara el mal trago con clase en los pies.
Después llegó Andrea, una eslovaca pequeñita y muy salada. Estudiaba medicina y había pasado el verano trabajando de socorrista en Estados Unidos. Nuestro primer acto social como compañeras de piso fue ver It. Por pirmera vez en mi vida vi una película de miedo, dormí sola y no desperté con un ataque de pánico. Pero sólo ha pasado esa vez.
En aquella época fue cuando comenzó mi afición a abonarme a periódicos durante el periodo gratuito de pruebas. Alguien me había convencido para que lo hiciera , un señor que llamó a la puerta de nuestra casa. Y dos días después volví a abonarme al mismo periódico porque un numetalero pasado con un broche de abuela en la perilla grasienta me había pedido por favor que me abonara... su trabajo estaba en juego. Volví a hacerlo. De hecho, creí que estaba empezando a tener una adición. Todo desapareció cuando empezaron a pedirme dinero por el periódico. Y meses después un empleado del mismo periódico me falsificó la firma.No recuerdo cuánto tardé en pisar el oeste de Berlín, pero al llegar allí me poseyó el espíritu comunista y decidí disfrutar del encanto marxista reinante entre Tierpark y Alexanderplatz, con alguna incursión a Allee der Kosmonauten, una avenida de nombre precioso y ninguna farola, en la que me perdí intentando encontrar la residencia donde vivía Andrés. Era ya de noche, no teníamos teléfono ninguno de los dos y yo me bajé en la parada de tranvía que mejor me pareció. El resto lo hice andando. Un borracho me llamó puta, una mujer no sabía dónde enviarme y acabé metiéndome en los jardines de un hospital victoriano. Al final me encontré con un hombre que me llevó a la puerta de la residencia. Siempre es bueno confiar en los desconocidos, son más altruistas que la gente a la que ya conoces.
19 de diciembre de 2005
So, maybe I should look back and remember that I decided to kill myself after a terrible year, but I’ve run out of gas and I’m trying to decide whether jump or go walking to the highway for someone to give me a lift home. I don’t know what would be worse at this moment: I’m not so sure I’d die in case I jumped and, on the other hand, these high heels are killing me.
The LSD chicken opens his beaked mouth to squawk he needs to take a leak. ‘Ok’, I say, ‘but be careful with that green monster waiting behind the tree.’ Why the fuck did I say so? He starts weeping and saying that the Friskoliums from Kopergon have ordered him to kill all the green monsters but he finds them really cute and doesn’t have the guts. Fucking weirdo. I don’t know why the fuck I offered him to come along. I suppose it is funny when you’re driving past a little village in Tennessee and you find a two meter chicken standing at the door of the church.
I stopped the car and told him I was driving to Chickenland. He accepted without thinking it twice. He had a bag full of homemade LSD, and told me how to cook it. As if I didn’t know how: paper, milk, beer (Foster’s if possible) and a few things more. Nothing your mother doesn’t keep in the cupboard.
At first he amused me. The problems came every time we saw a farm. He started crying and shouting that the chickens were repressed and kept behind fences because they knew the meaning of life.
Every time we drove past a farm I muttered “Fuck you and your chickens”.
In fact, I had thought that by telling him my reasons to kill myself he would give me a stupid and convincing reason not to do it. It didn’t happen. He kept mumbling about the marvelous chickens there had been throughout history and swallowing a LSD every two hours.
After two days driving, I decided I didn’t want to kill myself anymore; I wanted to kill the chicken.
Every night we stopped somewhere to sleep. I tried to make myself comfortable in the back seat, but I couldn’t get to sleep because he kept the whole fucking night pretending to lay eggs. One time I slapped him with the road map and he wept for four hours. I never should have done that.
Though he annoyed me and I couldn’t stand him, I came to realize he was happy and I was not. And here we are now. A pathetic version of Thelma and Louise with beak, feathers and LSD.
I think about my life back in New York, trying to give it a sense: I had money, I had a career, I had a sister who fucked my husband, I had a Republican preacher son. All I wanted was to escape, but after living on the road with that chicken man… Well, I’ve come to think that there were more ways than killing myself.
Yes, the police might be after me, but it’s my boss’ car I stole, under menace of telling his beautiful wife and the press what he had done with me. Photos included. So he’s gonna be pretty much silent and the police won’t have to care about me.
The chicken takes out an LSD. I accept another. After a while I start to feel really sick. I wanna throw up. My tongue is dry. The sunset has strange colors and empty sounds, and curves, and that tree… that tree is moving toward us, and those distant points, and a gigantic chicken singing ‘Singing in the Rain’ in this desert that is melting like gold.
We are not too far from Las Vegas. I take the chicken by the hand and walk under the psychedelic sunset all night long. We take another. And another. More empty sounds. Feathers. Love and sweat and feathers. At 10 a.m. we reach a little mall. There’s a disguise shop. Lots of masks are staring at me. Don’t worry, come with us. I find a lovely hen disguise. It can even lay eggs. She stares at me and I buy it. Another LSD when I go out. We cross the road into a Road Chapel, where I’m marrying the high chicken for only 10 $. Be happy says the priest. Now you can kiss the chicken. I swallow another. After all, I decided to start a new life. No matter which.
5 de diciembre de 2005
Once someone dropped dead at the front door of my home. My mother thought the woman had fainted and hurried there with a bottle of cold water and threw it all into her face, while my older sister slapped her old face over and over, saying she was a doctor and that she had everything under control. Obviously, there was no reaction. Mr. Marshal, who used to sit all day on a bench opposite our front door said: “She’s with God now, or with the devil: she had the tongue of a snake”. And he went back to his “sleep”. This man was like a lizard. He spent the whole day there, toasting his cancerous skin, waiting to drop dead in that street too.
“Hope when I’m dead you don’t treat me with such disrespect. The youth today...” he groaned.
“Haven’t you got anything better to do than go complaining about every fucking thing we do?”, my sister yelled.
He made a scornful face and looked somewhere else. I was pretty curious about this woman with a round red face and greasy gray hair, all covered with water and mud. My mother told me to get out of there and get some help, but this was the first dead person I had seen in my entire life (and that was 12 whole years), and this would make an amazing story to tell at school.
I remember that the priest of the village had once told us in religion class that, in case we ever saw someone dead we should immediately tell him. I went to his house, but he wasn’t there, as his mother told me. She was a little skinny woman thought to be a witch (by the children) and a usurer (by the ex children). I told her what happened, and she told me her son wasn’t there at the moment, but that she had a sacred soul and she would come help. She took a virgin-shaped bottle (I think it was Eau de Lourdes – my mother kept one like that at home), and we hurried back to my street, where a little crowd was already forming around the fat dead woman.
By my front door, Dr. Erlenmeyer, the doctor of the village (a bearded man with little glasses) was explaining how she could have suffered a sudden stroke and might have temporarily lost consciousness, banging her head fatally against the ground and breaking some vital part of her brain – or that’s what we understood.
Mr. Marshall opened his mouth and said that Erlenmeyer was a charlatan who was a doctor only because his father had known the right people during the war, and that he didn’t even know how to cure a headache.
Erlenmeyer was getting redder by the second, and my sister tried to defend him (he was going to retire soon and my sister wanted him to appoint her for his position, tough, she is only a nurse). Obviously, my sister has never been the brightest bulb.
On the left, sitting by Mr. Marshall, three or four women who claimed to have known this woman were already weeping and moaning and saying she had been their best friend in life, which was a complete lie because I had heard them days before gossiping about how she had neglected her children and how her husband was an alcoholic.
That made me think that maybe her husband would be interested in knowing that his wife had dropped dead in the middle of my street and, as things were getting rough at our front door, I decided to go look for him – the doctor was proposing an autopsy, the priest’s mother was calling him Satan and was spraying him with holy water, and Mr. Marshall had raised his cane and was threatening to break three or four heads.
I had heard that her husband was an alcoholic and as there were only two taverns in our village and they were in the same street, I went running and telling the news to everybody I came across on my way.
No one was in the first tavern, but I told the owner anyway. He said he was phoning the police, which seemed quite logical in this case, though nobody had thought of it until this moment. I had more luck in the second tavern, where I found the husband who was having a drink with the priest. I told them the news and both men jumped off of their seats and said “Don’t touch her”. Both of them were so drunk that they almost fell (it was only 11 a.m.) and they ran in opposite directions.
I went back to the crime scene to announce that I had completed my mission, but I found quite a commotion there. One of the women from the bench was slapping my sister with a trout she had just bought in the market, the priest’s mother was trying to take off the doctor’s trousers in order to show everyone that he had a tail like Satan, and the policemen had arrived, but a wall of crazy old women was preventing them from seeing the corpse, shouting that they wouldn’t allow them to take their best friend (lie) without a proper wake. It was then when on each side of the street a man appeared, each armed with two different weapons, but both equally drunk: on the left, the husband, with a shotgun and a bottle of wine, shouting that he wanted his wife back and that if all those motherfuckers didn’t get their asses out of there he would kill them all; on the right, the priest, with an enormous cross (at first I thought he was Christ himself) and an enormous Bible, shouting that, for God’s sake, everyone should get out of there so that he could give that good woman the extreme unction for her to be in the arms of the Almighty.
The policemen (2) didn’t know what to do at this point, so they started to try to get everyone to calm down, but one of them was hit in the head by Mr. Marshall’s cane, and the other was lost in a crowd of fat fighting old women (I couldn’t understand why they were fighting, but indeed they were).
After someone was wounded or something like that they calmed down and decided to take her to the hospital. I must say that all this happened back in 1960, and there was only one car in the whole village, which was the exclusive property of the landholder. So, with no car at all, everyone wanted to carry her. We had a procession in which twenty people were carrying a dead fat woman all across the village, into the road and then one kilometer down the hill to the hospital (it was the hospital for 5 villages and it was in the middle of the area, in case you are wondering).
The problems came when we got to a steep slope, and the path was in terrible condition. Everyone thought they were holding her securely when we dropped her. She fell and rolled and rolled and rolled down they hill. And she kept rolling until she hit the door of the hospital. Two doctors and three nurses went to see what was going on, and they saw a fat dead woman, swollen, scraped and bruised, with her clothes all torn and, as they looked up the hill, they found a crowd running down behind her as fast as they could (policemen, gun, cross, priest’s mother and bottle of wine included).
Everyone tried to explain his version, but the doctors didn’t want to listen to anyone (they were young people from the capital, who wanted nothing to do with the villagers). They told us that they would be doing an autopsy and would communicate the cause of the death to the village doctor as soon as possible. So, we went back home walking up the hill, except for the priest’s mother who spent all day there shouting that they were the sons of Satan and that the human body was holy and so on. It is said that one of the nurses went out and injected her with some morphine, which made her silent for a while.
One week later we received the results. Dr. Erlenmeyer organized a meeting to which the whole village was invited. Nervously, he opened the letter he had received and read it aloud with his hard and serious voice. What it said made more than one mouth fall open; in this or that way, we had all been her killers: she was not 100% dead until we dropped her and let her roll down 500 meters of a hill studded with sharp rocks and thistles.