Saturday, March 19, 2011

el putero

He watched from where the road curved and met up with the fairgrounds, standing off to the side so as not to be seen by the men sharing the wretched ugly girl. The fat one pulled at her skirts, the skinny one held her arms, and the third one, not sure what to do laughed nervously. The first time he went to see the Herschel Liege troop his father drove the sedan into the ditch outside the fairgrounds. His father bought the sedan from a locksmith named Sorrow Příbor; a slight man with uneven teeth and a faint wisp of salt-and-pepper hair that grew from the centre of his head and lay flat against his cheek. The sedan was missing the back fender, the passenger-side door and the front grill; the locksmith offering to throw in a kissing pig if his father accepted the car as is. ‘what, dear sir would I want with a kissing pig?’

‘why you could rent her out; she stays put if you tie her hind legs and stroke her head every once and a while’. ‘enough!’ shouted his father. ‘I’ll take it as is’. His father never forgave him for letting him buy the sedan, saying it was his fault for not stopping him make a fool of himself. ‘a kissing pig; what in the name of God are we going to do with a kissing pig?’ The wretched ugly girl kicked the fat one squarely in the groin, his knees buckling, his testicles swelling into his pants’ pockets. The skinny one she poked in the eye, his nose dribbling snot and blood. As for the laughing one she saved him for last; taunting and calling him a midget and a coward. ‘maybe next time you’ll pick on someone your own size; now run home to your mamma coward, run!’ They pushed the sedan halfway, the front grill crosshatched with twigs and tall grass, until his father gave up and called for a tow.

He stared at a fat woman trying to untangle her child from one of the circus tent ropes. My goodness me (he said mutely to himself) but isn’t that a fine mess. Next she’ll have the poor creature kissing a pig. He double-clutched, his foot going through the floor. ‘kissing pig my arse!’ His father never did get the sedan to run properly or understand why anyone would want to kiss a kissing pig. ‘fucking rodent!’ he wallowed, the kissing pig asleep snoring in the mud behind the woolshed. Keep your head up young fellow lest you fall anyhow into the soaking wet mud. His father eventually sold the sedan to a corker who served as the town mortician after his license to practice medicine was revoked. ‘here it’s yours’ said his father angrily. ‘the pig too’. This was long after the Mercury Fish Co. and his great-grandfather’s gangrene amputation and the maggots they used to eat the rotten flesh and his great-grandmother rubbing salve on the stump-end so his great-grandfather could attach the wobbly wooden leg to the chucked one. ‘now run home to your mamma coward run!’ His father never forgave his father for being so bitter and giving his mother the evil eye when she asked him how his day went.

Rafael López, named after his great great-grandfather Rafael ‘el putero’ López, a womanizer and scoundrel, from Hammermill, a trifling place with a church, a post office and three whorehouses where the reek of sulfur and cod creel emanating from the back door of the second whorehouse made him ill, arrived on the back of a mule waggon with three ears of brown corn, a shovel and a pack of playing cards. When they found his great-grandfather skulking out the back door of the first whorehouse, where he spent his evenings drinking Málaga and smoking fusswood tobacco, he was the first to pelt him with rocks and bits of broken glass. He wed a taxi-girl with rotten teeth and an arse so big he could sleep lying on it like a suckling child. ‘el putero!’ yelled a woman carrying a weakly deformed child, the child’s head bobbling from side to side, the woman trying frantically to hold it upright.

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"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth". Bruno Schulz

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