(CHAPTER 2 … …)
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
I got to Lawton two hours later.
I’d walked fast. I got a nosebleed. I had chills.
I passed my block. I didn’t recognize my wooden house.
I turned around several times, finding myself on the stairs that make the corner of Fonts and Beales a cesspool.
Poles with no lights. Doorways with no lights. The moon above without light. A moon of props, cut like a pussy under the concave tarp of heaven.
Finally I opened the grill.
Fonts No. 125, my house.
My dog barked in the background. Kelly, remembered.
I laughed. Kelly, the first word in the world.
The laughter gave me motion sickness. Shortness of breath. I wiped my nose with quilted sleeves.
It was no longer dripping. There were just fresh outriders of coagulated blood. Black.
Smell of iron, rust, trains, harbor.
I took out my keys. I sat on the doorstep. The areca palm was moving in slow motion. The cold front numbed all reality.
I looked at the garden. The nopal cactus brought from the Fernández-Larrea house in Vibora Park. The false yellow flame trees. The fragile lilies, of glass. The witches before human history in Cuba. The snails endemic to my house. Roses, of course. And an asparagus bush pruned at every poor wedding in the neighborhood.
Lawton, the second word in the world. Also corset.
I do not speak Spanish.
I do not speak.
I lay on the tiles. Kneeling. Ice on my back. I coughed. Having lungs is a danger.
If a patrol was passing, they would take me for dead. Better so.
Then they would take me for a madman. Than no.
I sat up.
I opened the door. I went inside. I closed. I walked without seeing, to the long, narrow hall of tongue and groove boards. I got to the bathroom.
Long and bitterly, pissed.
My urine bubbled, frothy. Beer of an uncivil and soft odor.
For a long time I stood there in the absolute darkness of the bathroom. My penis hanging in my hand. The left, always.
The penis flaccid at first. Then turgid, then hard. Tetanic muscles, circulation atrocious. The penis recognizable in the middle of a total state of unrecognition.
If I moved my hand now I would faint.
I didn’t. I wanted to, but I didn’t.
I wanted more to survive that night. Let the dawn never come, but I survive that.
Then the phone rang.
A whip of chills in my spine.
Lightning out of the blue.
Of course it was Ipatria.
It would have to be Ipatria.