They found the motive they needed—
“If a man would give all the substance of his house for love,
it would utterly be contemned” —Song of Songs 8:7
HER NAME was Dolores, but everybody called her Lolita. She was the only daughter of a very modest matrimony. I might say that the family belonged, not to the middle class but may be one or two steps under that. I mean, they were not an indigent family. Lolita’s father was a brick layer, a very honest and responsible man. Nothing of the necessary things to live in this world lacked in Lolita’s house. But, you know what? Lolita was a rich girl, not in the economic sense, but in beauty and intelligence. Oh! How beautiful she was. I must say that her physical beauty was nothing out of this world. We could say the she was a good looking girl, not a Marylyn Monroe of course, but pretty close. But there was something in her that made everybody turned to see her when she was walking on her way to work. I think it was her personality that attracted everybody’s attention more than any thing else. In that way she was even more beautiful: Her constant smile; her eagerness to help whoever was in need; a “good morning” here, a “how are you doing Sr. / Madam?” there. She was one of those persons that radiated confidence. Her intelligence was superb. She learned to read before she started primary school, her mother taught her. Lolita graduated with honors from primary and secondary school as well. She was an avid reader. She could easily talk about history, geography, mathematics, or grammar. She was number one on any of those subjects. No doubt about it, Lolita was the most popular, the most beautiful, and the most intelligent.
Continuing education after secondary school was definitely out of the question. Lolita had to work to help with household expenses and her own personal expenses. Besides, her father was not working with the continuity of years before. Anyway, it was easy for her to get a job at the biggest grocery store in town. – She brought a new image to my business, – the owner used to said. Any body could say that Lolita was a happy young girl, and she really was, but… (yes, there is always a but), tragedy was waiting for her. Was it destiny? I do not know. Was it bad luck? Maybe, I don’t know either. Fernando came into Lolita’s life and that is when her calvary started out, not immediately of course, but not too long after they met. Fernando was self employed. His business consisted in merchandise transportation from the capital of the state to that small town. He used to spend long hours driving his own big truck through rough roads, up and down high hills with no pavement at all. It really was a dangerous job, especially when it rained. He was an athletic young man, two or three years older then Lolita. Good looking guy, kind of shy and introverted though.
You could say that Lolita found her other half, same thing about Fernando, he found his other half. It was nice, pleasant, I should say, to see them walking around the square holding hands, Lolita with her beautiful smile on her face seemed to light the whole square, meanwhile all you could see in Fernando’s attitude was happiness. After going out together for a reasonable time, they decided to get married. Lolita was eighteen and Fernando twenty one. The highest point of happiness came when Fernandito (Fernny?) was born, there was a big celebration between the two families.
Happiness lasted five years, then, tragedy struck. A failure in the steering system, Fernando lost control of the truck and rolled down a hill several times, he died instantly. Lolita’s life changed instantly too, from being immensely happy, to being an emotional wreck. She fell into a very, very deep depression. For a long time she didn’t talk to nobody. It was like she became mute. “It’s not fair, it’s not fair,” she repeated over and over while sleeping. Her parents used to say that she cried till there were no more tears in her eyes. Fernando’s parents were given custody of Fernandito. It was understandable, because Lolita’s parents had to take care of her.
Oh, what a change in Lolita’s life, from being immensely happy one day, to be immensely sad next day. One unfortunate day somebody offered her a sip of whisky or tequila or whatever and that was it, her fall into alcoholism was an abrupt one. Pretty soon she spent all the compensation money she got from the insurance because of the accident, and also the money that she and Fernando had saved with the purpose of buying or building a house. In a very short time, nothing was left of the Lolita that everybody knew. She neglected her personal appearance, her physical body suffered a horrible deterioration. When walking on the street, everybody avoided her because of the nauseating odor she was expelling, odor of a nasty body mixed with the smell of rotting alcohol and beer. Prostitution was the next step when she ran out of money, selling her body for a few pesos, or a few drinks to nasty men that were in the same condition she was. One day, Lolita’s parents brought the priest to talk to her. Lolita got furious at that old man when he insinuated that God was the author of whatever was happening to her. – No Sir! – She screamed, – you don’t blame The Lord of The Highest Places for this situation. God didn’t kill Fernando. You are dead wrong Sir. One day I will get out from this abysm, I don’t know how, I don’t know when either, if that “when” never comes, I will die, and that’s it.
|Chico, the soldier
B“lack and dense storm clouds threaten to destroy my precarious existence, – Chico used to say when he was feeling real bad, because of a hang over. Caramba! How ugly he was: As a matter of information, I’d like to say that “Chico” is kind of a short name for Francisco, but “Chico” also means “small”, I really don’t know whether his name was Francisco, or every body called him Chico because he was short and squat. To me his body seemed like a rectangular cardboard box, five feet tall and tree feet wide with a dark brown ball on top of it. His nose was flat, (like a boxer’s nose) ending in a hook like an eagle beak. His eyes were like those of a Japanese or Chinese person, just two lines on his front head. His mouth, because of his very thin lips, looked like if somebody made a cut with a knife right under his nose. Chico really was a physically ugly man. But, according to my father, he was a very nice person, a man that you could talk to. Yes, I talked to him just once, better said, he talked to me. Chico was leaning on the wall out side of that stinky low class bar called “La cueva” (The cavern). I was walking by across the street when Chico called me: – Hey, young man, – (yes, I was just a lad, fifteen may be). I knew right away that he was going to ask for money; notwithstanding that, I crossed the street immediately because I was very interested in hearing his voice, his way of talking. I learned that day that he was a good talker. Never asked for money directly, he went around with a lot of short stories, and in some strange way, he let me know that he needed money for a drink, I gladly gave him one peso, because of Chico’s wit. One peso was enough to buy at least two drinks of “sotol”, a strong beverage made out of a desert cactus.
At age 18, Chico enrolled voluntarily in the army and he became a soldier for twenty years, then he retired with a ridiculous pension from the government. His ugliness was a constant torment in his life, – I am as ugly as sin, – he used to say, – no body likes me, much less women. His inferiority complex drove him little by little into the alcohol world. From being a serious person, alcohol transformed Chico into a clown. Everybody knows that the first thing a drunk person looses is dignity and shame. Pretty soon we could see Chico clowning around in the middle of the street, marching like a soldier with a broom handle on his shoulder like if it were a rifle, obeying military orders from ill-intentioned people. Was Chico happy? Of course not, all that clowning was just a mask to cover his sadness, and his loneliness. Many people said that he used to talk to himself in the solitude of his dingy room: – Oh, Divine Power, if I only could find a good woman to whom I could talk to, somebody that wouldn’t laugh at me, I bet I would leave this horrible life I’m living. They said that you could actually hear his sad sobs almost every night.
It was after noon, 4 or 5 P.M. maybe, that day that Chico came in into that sordid bar. The smell of alcohol beverages and beer excited his appetite for a drink. The place was empty, just Oscar, the bar man, and in a half lighted corner was Lolita seated in an old metal chair with her head leaning on the dirty table, half asleep. Chico, after saying “hola a todos” approached the counter and asked for a “high ball” (sotol, mixed with soda). After sipping his drink for a minute or two, somehow he felt that Lolita was staring at him. Turned his head and stared at her too. For long seconds he didn’t know what to do, he was not used to that kind of situations. In a fraction of a second the idea entered Chico’s mind: “offer her a drink.” So he did, drink in hand slowly approached Lolita’s table feeling a bit apprehensive, – can I sit here, – he said with an almost inaudible voice. Lolita looked straight to his eyes with a very sad sight. Chico took that sight as a “yes” and put the drink in front of her. With shaky hands she held the glass and drank half of it in one sip.
For long minutes they didn’t say anything. Their eyes went to each other eyes for fractions of a second, and then back to their drinks. That awkward situation put Chico in a position absolutely unknown for him. He didn’t know how to start a conversation with a woman, never did it before. Two tears rolled down on Lolita’s cheeks, and that gave Chico the motive to start a conversation. What they talked about no body knows. The barman said that for moments he sawed them sobbing, and for moments they laughed loudly, but most of the time they were smiling at each other, then they decided to get out of that stinky place to never come back again. That was the barman’s appreciation, and he was right, Lolita and Chico found a very strong motive to get out of the alcohol sea.
To make a long story short I’d say that not too long after that scene in the bar, Lolita and Chico got married. To the obvious question, Chico used to answer: – The Divine Power finally answered my pleas. – The Lord of The Highest Places brought love to my life again, – Lolita used to say. They were immensely happy for a few years, unfortunately alcohol had already caused irreversible damage to their bodies: Chico died from liver cirrhosis, and few days later, Lolita died from the same illness, and sadness as well.
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