I’ll tell you the story of Ciclón while I’m brushing my hair. Actually, his name was Justicia and when he was a kid he had worked as a mule herder, a quiet job. The vast plains of Andalusia had been his only world and mules his life.
«It takes tenacity to be a mule herder. Rather than stay idle, you have to tear an ear, or the paws off our animal, because you have to give your life to your flock, it is in the Bible, boy!» his masters reminded him all the time.
Justicia used to spend many hours alone watching the animals, calling them by name, and they turned their heads, slowly ruminating, with an apathetic look. How many times had he chased them, in the green rain, splashing in the slippery mud, or freezing in the dark night, the stars his only friends… he was very proud of his job, he never spared his energy. Therefore, he was never punished. My masters are fair, he repeated to himself. He was sixteen years old and his body was that of a giant. His pectorals were an elliptical protuberance, a throbbing core ready to explode. His small head and his tight belt exalted the promontory of his chest. Yet his strength came not from his muscles. He had never contented himself with knowing by heart the language of flowers, the secrets of the trees, or the Guadalquivir songs. For some time now he had been attending the social school. My masters are good, he repeated to himself while he was advising himself not to listen to the screams coming from behind the olive trees. When the sun was high in the sky, he read books, cheerful as usual, even though his sleep was fitful at night.
«It must be the awakening of your senses!» his masters used to say, patting him on his back. Easy women with bright lipsticks began to visit him in the evenings, letting him ride the uneasiness of his soul. My masters are funny, he muttered to himself with a bitter smile, trying not to think.
Some flowers had grown thistles, stinging nettles and trees drew twisted shadows, with bare arms and rough knots. The stones were boiling. At that time he rode those women more violently, from behind, without looking into their eyes, pulling their hair, so as not to understand, to be trapped in his deafness. But the stars didn’t leave him alone. It was the night of Santiago, and the Jerez, running through the veins of Justicia, awoke the crickets of his loneliness. Azucena gave him her hand and took him under an olive tree. Her eyes shone like fleeting stars.
He realized that she was a fairy, as fresh as the dew, like a lush forest filled with ferns. The girl unbuttoned her blouse and uncovered a delicate breast, inviting the boy to cover it with his hand. Her parted thighs seemed to him to be made of mother of pearl. He desired her like he had desired no other woman before. He entered her gently. He felt the abandon of the girl’s breath while their sexes surprised one another, flowing like a stream where young fishes swim. After their climax, they laughed and hugged until dawn, their smiles blossoming one after another: «Azucena, you’re the Big Dipper to me».
Suddenly, the hoarse cry of the rooster came, and sang the song of death. The two lovers awoke abruptly, wrapped in the echo of the cries of Antonio, the mule herder. They saw him trying to run, but his hip was no longer that of a young man, and his hernia-bent back pressed him down. Three masters caught up with him to beat him with sticks: «You cripple, you beast!». Something broke inside him, a well opened in his lungs. «Don’t tell me you’re coughing, you old bastard!».
Ciclón couldn’t stand it any longer. He picked up some stones and threw them forcefully at the masters, hitting their heads, their eyes, their ears. It was this that made him realize that he could only fight on the side of the Republicans in the civil war. And then, after the war, he was sentenced to hard-labour on the railway line on the Basque coast. But I convinced him that he was right. I told him: «Ciclón, I have woven for you a golden bridge with my hair. Osin Iluna, with its milky rivers, is waiting for you in heaven».
That morning Onofre is walking wherever his feet seem to take him.
«Which point of the compass am I at?».
He stops on the railroad track and sees, on the other side, as if in a mirror, Ciclón heading towards the tunnel. He enters but doesn’t come out. The hand of the foreman is on the detonator.
«He hasn’t come out! Stop!», Onofre cries, but someone pushes him to the ground: «Everybody down!».
The explosion blows up Ciclón. Onofre stands up and runs to the foreman:
«You killed him, you bloody fascist!».
Onofre picks up some stones and hurls them at the foreman, hitting his head, his eyes, his ears…
Translation by the author (edited by Roma O’Flaherty)