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On the morning upon which the woman appeared to give her testimony, the prosecutor was much more riled up than usual. The previous day he had been presented with a fellow who had killed his mother. He had strangled her on the floor with his bare hands. The officer on duty said that the son of a bitch hadn’t shown so much as a flicker of emotion. A yellow press reporter on the morning beat added that they had found the perpetrator—a young man of around 25, as it were—at the door of his apartment, wearing a sleepwalker’s vacant stare. Outside, people crowded around to gawk at the monster, so as to recognize him if at some point they had run into him on a street corner and he had appeared to be a nice young man incapable of harming a fly. Such were the words of the reporter.

When confronted with the event, the prosecutor, who had seen and heard the most abhorrent stories during his 15 years seated behind the same desk, could not control his rage. Rapists, pedophiles, pickpockets and petty thieves showed up every day, but this—killing one’s own mother—he found morally beyond the pale. He was an orphan from an early age and retained only a blurry image of his own mother as she flew through the windshield of a green ´76 Datsun. It was a dim recollection that troubled his nights and obliged him to remember by adding bits and pieces, perhaps dreamt, perhaps drawn to light from the bloody cavern of his memory.

The woman appeared around nine. They said that she elbowed her way up to the door of the Crimes Unit. They also related that she was stockingless beneath her garish skirt but that she was wearing giant platforms upon which were perched her bare, pinkly French-manicured toes. They also added, and in this they were in agreement because the rest was mere rumors, that she had a superb backside which displayed the thin line of her G-string—“panties,” a woman corrected—through her garish skirt.

The woman said that she knew the young man accused of killing his mother. They asked her to reveal her relationship to the accused. She stuttered, unsure how to respond, and after a long pause, she nearly shouted: I know him, end of story! Let me through, I want to speak with whoever is in charge of this circus. The officer on guard laughed jeeringly and looked at her cold breasts—that´s how he imagined them, almost felt them. He turned and entered into the office. The woman felt the assault of a multitude of prying eyes on her body, watching her from every side. Her chest did, in fact, feel a bit cold, and she adjusted her neckline.

When they allowed her through it was already almost midday. She waited beside a handcuffed man whose face was bruised and bloody. She was afraid to look at him or to meet his gaze. Nonetheless, she removed her compact from her purse and adjusted her make-up. Inside it was hot, a heat mixed with a sour, almost nauseating, air arising from the unsettled bodies around her. A waiting room for hell, she might have thought. For a moment she arose, wanting to flee, to deny the relationship that she had yet to confess. But in this confusion someone took her arm and led her to one of the offices. They asked her name: Karina, she replied. Your full name, the interrogator shot back. Just Karina, she responded insolently. It’s my work, she managed to add. The interrogator looked her up and down and understood. Damn it!, he shouted, and wiped his neck with his handkerchief. Here no one comes in with pseudonyms, not even poets. Karina said that she didn’t want trouble, that she had only come to present her testimony, that the man they had apprehended could not be a killer. She didn’t say it like that, assuredly: she must have choked on her words, included some unreproducible idiom. She said her name was María Gracias Cedeño, that she was 22 years old, that she wished to speak with the prosecutor, with whoever was in charge of the case. They asked her to be seated, that if she hadn’t wanted trouble she should have thought of that before coming, that here she would find nothing but trouble. Karina wanted to smoke but saw the sign prohibiting said act just before taking out her pack of cigarettes. I’m so foolish, she thought to herself, stupid. A cojuda, she added, for good measure.

Half an hour later they took her to a room with a large window through which nothing could be seen but an illuminated wall. Two policemen entered, leading a man who hung his head as he walked. They stood him before the wall and one of the officers used his baton to lift the man’s chin to display his barely-recognizable face, as though the thought of brushing the man’s skin disgusted him. The man stared vacantly into space through swollen eyes. Karina held back her urge to cry. That’s him, she managed to say. Why have you done that to him, you faggots!, she screamed at the officers, who were in that moment disappearing with the evil piece of shit (in the words of the prosecutor).

They had to take hold of her to prevent her from collapsing. One of the accompanying officers used the opportunity to grope her breast, furtively, lustfully. Karina divined in that instant that no one would get her out of there. She cursed her luck, her body, her idiotic desire for justice. She was putting her life at stake for a man she barely knew, from whom she had received barely a gesture of enjoyment. She was now willing to retract herself, deny knowing him, state that it had been an outburst caused by hangover-induced sensitivity. She was going to say that she was drunk, that they should let her go, that she had nothing to do with that fucking bastard—those were going to be her words—that as far as she was concerned they should give him the maximum penalty, que mierda, that she didn’t want to be there…

When they took down her statement she was so scared that she didn’t know how to begin to lie. The prosecutor stunned her when he revealed that the man had already accepted his guilt. He stated that the man himself had led the officers to the room of the crime. And now you’ve come to tell me he´s innocent!, he spit out. Through clenched teeth Karina replied that she didn’t even know his name, that he had said it was Rodrigo, but that she didn’t think he could have killed his mother. He was a sweet guy, she ventured to say; she wanted to say is but couldn’t pronounce the conjugation in present tense. She said that he usually went to the cabaret at least twice a week, that he always looked for her, that she never saw him drunk or high or depressed. Continue, said the prosecutor. Now that we’re here.

Karina added that the man in question was a little strange, but she couldn’t say that he was that strange because all men who go to the cabaret are strange and in truth it would more strange for a “normal” type to go. With this she raised her hands to form air quotes. Karina also said that he had a long, thick cock which drove her wild—those were her words. She wanted to confess that one time he had asked to do her up the ass, but she was scared that it would hurt. She had the sense that the prosecutor was getting an erection and thus didn’t tell him this. What’s this about being strange?, asked the prosecutor. Explain yourself. Karina replied, for example, that he liked her to stick a finger up his ass just as he was about to come and that one time she felt that he urinated inside of her, but that she had liked it. There’s nothing strange about that!, exclaimed the prosecutor. Did he ever strike you, insult you?, he asked, somewhat morbidly.

Karina disclosed that the last time she had seen him he was somewhat more anxious than usual. Last time being two days ago, she quickly added. And that she took him to the room and Rodrigo only wanted to talk. Karina made it clear that she wanted him inside her; she wanted to be with him. I grew fond of him, she added, but he resisted her caresses and shoved her away. Bitch!, he shouted. Can´t you see that I only want to talk? She asked him to calm down, said that if he wanted she could get him a beer, that he knew quite well that here you came for one thing and one thing only; the salon was for conversing. I´ll pay whatever you want, Rodrigo had said. And he had pulled out a wad of bills like nothing she’d ever seen. He was loaded, Karina added. Then he relaxed. She suggested that he take her away, go somewhere that they could be more comfortable, maybe for the night, that she didn’t care about the money. Rodrigo looked at her with indifference, took out his giant member, ripped off her thong and thrust himself into her. I´d never felt him so hard, said Karina. He put her on all fours and seized her face. Son of a bitch, you´re hurting me!, she had shouted. But he kept going, as Karina reached around in an attempt to grab at him, to scratch him. The asshole came inside me, she wanted to add, but she restrained herself. And then?, continue please, asked the prosecutor, somewhat excitedly. Karina said that Rodrigo had left as though possessed, that when she returned to the salon he was gone, that since then he hadn’t reappeared. She wanted to add that she hadn’t had anything to do with the matter and that she had realized her stupidity; but the prosecutor jumped ahead, raising his voice to declare that the son of a bitch couldn’t be saved even by his own resuscitated mother—such were his words—, that possibly they would call upon her to give her statement, but that, as he had already said, the case was closed.

When Karina was at last able to leave the scene of the flagrancy, the afternoon had already begun to chip away at the hive of activity. And it began to rain.


Santiago Vizcaíno

Santiago Vizcaí­no has worked as an editor at the newspaper Hoy, at Superbrands Ecuador, and at the Office of Publications in Ecuador's Benjamí­n Carrión Casa de la Cultura. He is currently the editor of the magazine Nuestro Patrimonio (Our Patrimony) His work has appeared in various magazines, including Letras del Ecuador, Rocinante, Retrovisor and Casa de las Américas. His first book of poetry, Devastací­on en la tarde(Destruction in the Afternoon) and a book-length study called Decir el silencio: Aproximación a la poesía de Alejandra Pizarnik (Telling Silence: An Approach to the Poetry of Alejandra Pizarnik), were published in 2008.

Kimrey Anna Batts

KIMREY ANNA BATTS' literary translations have appeared in Rocinante magazine and she has done a variety of journalistic translation work for the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism. At the end of 2014, her translation of Santiago Vizcaínos book of short stories Matricide (Matar a mama) will be published by La Caí­da Press (Buenos Aires).


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2014

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