Music to Forget an Island By (page 2)
Eladio despised Rosa, an old story
that began when he bought a piece of land she was after in an area where people once
thought the treasure was buried. Relations between them worsened when the Reeds acquired
half the stock in Quetzal, the company that flew small planes between the Mainland and the
island. Rosa took her revenge for the land purchase by firing Eladio, who was a pilot for
the company, alternating this work with managing the Cooperative. Eladio loved flying and
he never forgave Rosa for that low, mean blow. Julio, with a sweet expression,
ran his hand through his lock of white hair and said that what Rosa really looked like was
a madam and then began talking to Agualdo about his sons transfer to the northern
garrison because of the political crisis on the Mainland. Ada, with a distracted air,
barely listened as Beatriz continued to emphasize the importance of this night in
understanding how the island worked: When the schooner docks, the night and the next
morning share no common ground, they belong to different worlds, like two soap bubbles
that would burst if they touched.
Rosa ruled over the fall of the diurnal empire. Alcohol
made her perspire more and restrain herself less, and she eclipsed her husband, who became
increasingly ashen and transparent until he settled in at the end of the bar so as not to
see her flirting with the Chief of Police as well as Señor Maximiliano, the grandson of
Baron de Kundt, with whom, people said, flirtation had led to procreation. As it grew
later she would also flirt with the fishermen, individually and as a group, and they would
start to address her as tú and touch her body. That was when Juan Renguel would
pick up his guitar and Agualdos son-in-law his accordion. The fishermen would ask
her to dance, and then the last dikes broke. Señor Reed conveniently dozed off where he
stood, and it was easy to slip a hand down the front of her dress or pinch her buttocks.
Rosa danced -- Eladio described it as clumping -- tirelessly, and with everyone.
She had more endurance than the fishermen, who weakened and were flung from her arms as if
from a powerful whirlpool, sometimes thrown against the wall, where they panted while
another took their place: no matter how much one despised her, it could not be denied that
Rosa was the absolute queen of the night at Agualdos. The men who muttered
obscenities as they explored the chasm of her decolletage to the sound of Señor
Reeds rhythmic snoring, and returned to their houses with streaks of her
orchid-colored rouge on their shirts, were the same ones who, passing her in the village
the next day, would remove their hats to greet her and speak in the most formal manner,
not daring to look her in the eye. She, the sole representative on the island of an
By now Juan Renguel was singing, and two fishermen asked
Ada and Beatriz to dance. Beatriz accepted. Ada refused, making some excuse, but then one
of the fishermen unintentionally stepped on her foot. She could not stop him and another
man, who was just as drunk, from kneeling down in the middle of the crowd, taking off her
sandals, and beginning an endless massage of the wrong foot, while Chicho looked on in
When Juan Renguel stopped playing for a time, Beatriz
picked up the guitar and put it on Adas lap.
Id really like you to sing the song you sang
when you met him, she said.
Why? asked Ada.
Its from Juan Fernández isnt it? You
learned it here, didnt you? And tonight you could give it back to the island,
couldnt you? Get it away from him. It would be a part of killing him off.
Ada listened but did not look at her. Beatriz wanted the
mythic first encounter, so deeply embalmed in Adas memory, to become mixed with
Adas drunkenness here and now, be tainted with the sweat and heavy feet of the
But a strings missing, Ada said, looking
at the guitar as if it were an unclassifiable animal.
A strings always missing, said Beatriz,
slipping down to the floor because she could barely stand. Somethings always
missing. For instance, and she struggled to her feet, swaying, now the
floors missing but Im walking all the same.
Beatriz put the guitar over her shoulder and staggered out
of Agualdos, followed by Ada. They sat down side by side, leaning against the wall
that shook with the fishermens jumping. Her voice breaking, Ada sang the melancholy
tune in Portuguese about the fishermen who died nas ondas verdes do mar.
After a silence, Ada made a face and said:
I havent sung it since that time at
Estrellas. How did you know?
And you, did you find the solution to the
puzzle? she asked.
I solved it the following week, on a plane to Puerto
On a terrace with a view of the turquoise sea through the
palm trees, a tropical breeze flutters the paper with the solved puzzle while she talks to
the director of the film and watches a large fly trying to drown in her sugary guanábano
drink. She thinks about him. Guanábano, and him. Contract in Puerto Rico, and him. Palm
trees, and him. Him, and the suicidal fly climbing tentatively up the straw only to fall
back into the glass. She imagines herself with her guitar, singing in his show. In the
Loiza Aldea Hotel she borrows a guitar and sings over the deafening noise of the air
conditioner, or dies of the heat in order to hear herself sing with his ears. She walks
along the beach and thinks about encounters. About destiny. About chance. She thinks that
chance means the threads in the fabric of destiny, or that destiny is one thread in the
fabric of chance. As she runs through a long barrier of seafoam on the turquoise shore of
the Caribbean, looking at some boys as they wash their horses in the sea, she thinks about
him, thinks that the miraculous is not the endless number of creatures, objects,
possibilities, worlds within worlds, that exist on earth, but the possibility of chance
bringing them together. Chance advances the wheel of events, is as likely to bring
together flies and guanábano drinks as Loves darting glances. Chance, reflects Ada
that bright morning, is not the weapon or instrument of fate but fates will, fate
itself like a giant cornucopia, an enormous trayful of possibilities always ready to bring
together creatures and objects. After this thought thinks her, she wants to go back to New
And in New York?
Fear. The paper with the solved puzzle, the telephone
number, and Before you ask the answer is no, spent a week in a vase. Her
cleaning woman might have thrown it out. But no, one evening she turned the vase
upside-down and out fell the nine dots along with a cigarette butt, a quarter, and the
dried corpse of a cockroach. She dialed the number: 925-0236.
She tells him she has the solution to the puzzle. He
laughs into the phone. A chasm of a pause, more laughter, why didnt she stop by?
Tomorrow? Domani è troppo tardi, laughter. That afternoon.
That afternoon Ada leaves her work at a run. Her heart is
a drum. As she phones, as instructed, from the corner of Canal Street, her joy is almost
perfect among the Chinese merchants and vendors of second-hand goods displaying their
transistor radios, used eyeglasses, radio parts, decapitated lamps, watches from Taiwan,
key rings with whistles. Among the discards of America and the new trash from Hong Kong, a
mad beggar infected with the fever of consumerism has arranged for sale on a grimy towel
the cracked head of a doll, three rusty screws, and a dented, empty Coca Cola can. Ada
looks up, sees his tousled hair at the highest window. He comes down to open the door. In
an enormous freight elevator the size of a boxing-ring, they stand in opposite corners and
exchange looks, and its as if they were already naked with their hands on the
others body. Adas mouth becomes dry on the way up. The hall is under
construction. The dark brown cat greets them, putting its head through the grate of the
sliding metal door, its tail erect, then describing figure-eights between Adas legs,
reaffirming feline infinity. When he stoops to pick up the cat, he brushes lingeringly
against her calf. A blast of air slams the door shut, and for the first time Ada hears the
tinkle of Balinese bells that will mark, like a ritual sign, the times she enters and
leaves Erics world. Papier-mâché puppets, Dutch lace curtains dyed black. Oriental
sculptures. A small collection of wooden weathervanes from New England: a woman washing
clothes, a man riding a bicycle, two pigs that made her blush when he, with his Chinese
eyes, moved a lever and one stood on its hind legs, revealing a phallus of orange wood
that was introduced repeatedly into an opening beneath the corkscrew tail of the other. A
huge room with seven ogive windows, in a corner a mock stage and a row of purple velvet
seats with broken bottoms. While she was looking at the stage, a frantic green chaos
swooped down, hitting her face, until it was transformed into a parrot that landed on her
shoulder and dug its claws through her sweater. How shocking! shrieked the
parrot, and Ada had to stand perfectly still until he got it onto an ivory rod and carried
it to its cage. He watches as Ada regains her composure, mute in his heavy kimono, his
curled-toe calf slippers, and he opens his hand, waiting for something. She passes him an
ashtray. He laughs. He touches her handbag. The puzzle, the very reason for her visit --
he remembers its original purpose, which she has forgotten completely. He sits on a black
velvet sofa as damaged as the chairs. He invites her to sit beside him and puts his arm
behind her, resting it on the back of the sofa, but for a moment it goes around her as he
unfolds the paper. The cat jumps on his lap, he strokes it, and once again Ada is also in
his arms, and feeling them for the second time she swallows saliva, fearing he can hear
her, but her mouth still produces more while he barely moves, his arms brushing against
her though he seems absorbed in the cat and the paper.
Fantastic, he said. Perfect.
How long did it take her to do it?
Not long, she said. An hour.
Fantastic, he said.
She asks him for another puzzle (she wants to impress him
with her sagacity). The rows of matchsticks. She knows it, and says: The one who
starts wins (she wants to impress him with her veracity). Things that are hard to
do? She can wiggle her ears. He can touch his little finger to his palm without moving his
other fingers. She crosses her eyes. So does he. She takes her nose in one hand and an ear
in the other, and then her nose and the other ear, crossing her hands. He tries, takes
hold of his nose and one ear, then pinches his cheek and pokes a finger in his eye. She
laughs. Annoyed, he says theres nothing more ridiculous than fear of being
He shows her photographs of his living
sculpture. How shocking, says the parrot. An ecstatic Ada peruses,
admires. He watches her, intently, in silence, with his smile and slitted eyes.
Ada finds him charming. She finds everything about him
charming. His house. His parrot. His cat. His aloof irony. His voice. His height. His
fingers. The way he raises his chin slightly when he says fantastic.
It has grown dark, and he has an opening on Broadway. They
say good-bye. He turns on the light. In silence they watch the cat stretch as if it were
an act of enormous importance. They dont speak. They speak at the same time. They
say nothing. Again they speak in unison. They laugh. Will they see each other again? Of
course. They agree that hell have supper at her place some day during the week, he
didnt know which day because he hated to plan ahead.
And after that first supper at her house, which Ada
doesnt want to talk about and when its clear they make love, the conventional
New York art-world beginning begins, intense though they see each other seldom, and always
at night, he being the one who determines the duration of their meetings and the length of
their separations, which are frequent because he travels a great deal to promote his
immobile theater, or works alone in his studio, in front of a maquette for days and nights
on end, not going out. Each night without him she studies her naked body as if the mirror
were his eyes, tries on underclothes for him, presses herself against the cold mirror.
Although she is waiting to make her stage debut to sing her song in a corner con la
guitarra, he never again refers to the show in which he suggested she appear. Ada
mentions it once and he merely looks at her and smiles with his Chinese eyes. One day,
when shes in the studio editing a documentary on Africa, and images of disemboweled
wild animals move across the viewfinder, Ada realizes that without realizing it she has
fallen in love. What does she call falling in love? The fact that his image begins to
spread across her life like a halo of light moving at dizzying speed, superimposing
streaks of brilliance over everything, even when shes looking at zebras torn apart
by lions, lions destroyed by hunters: to her everything seems just millimeters away from
bliss, everything seems to find unity and vindication in unending harmony. How has she
fallen in love? Madly. When? Too late. Why? Because it is impossible to turn back. When?
Too soon. Why? Because it is impossible to turn back. Why turn back? Because his attitude
was and is ambiguous, full of sidelong glances and my life is mysterious and its
better to say nothing than to ask.
When he makes a date with her, Ada cannot walk to his
house. Her feet move faster and faster, she breaks into a run like an animal set free, or
floors the accelerator and drives through red lights. The streets are alive with mercurial
energy, the blocks around his house percolate, a half-opened shutter where a white curtain
flutters makes her shiver with pleasure, a bas-relief of acanthus leaves above a majestic
window makes her tremble, her nostrils dilate, the false columns of factories dating back
to the industrial revolution vibrate, swollen with sensuality as she approaches the
magnetic pole: he, waiting for her in front of his maquette on the top floor on Lispenard
Street above the sweatshop where day and night two hundred Chinese women incessantly sew
baby clothes in every color on two hundred sewing machines. Sometimes three or four of
them come to the window beneath the window where his chin appears foreshortened and he
throws down the key. The greasy smell, the groaning of the freight elevator, excite her,
they are charged with anticipation, with the vertigo of love which is nothing more than
the movement that carries what I am toward what I am not, in a flood, in a torrent.
He, on the other hand, does not yield. She chooses not to
know whether he is afraid, or slow, or refining a hit-and-run strategy, like a thief in
the night. Ada follows his lead so as not to destroy an equilibrium that she guesses is
precarious. He is a master of distance, he unrolls it like a carpet, spreading it out
before them. Does she want to know why? No. Nor does she want to know if theres
another life in his life. She doesnt even want to know that she doesnt want to
know. She makes small, quiet gestures of love, sensing that if she dances more freely
their limbs will collide, the mechanism will fail, she will invite sorrow, separation.
How did she dare to enter the house of love without
knocking, without asking if she was expected? The house of love, or of misfortune?
Ah, Ada replies, her expression mysterious,
that confidence comes from the way he makes love.
From the way he holds her after. He knows how
to make love. After his knowing, he rests his head on her belly, pressing as if he wanted
to lose himself inside her. But he sees her only at night, very late, after his life.
Never during the day. Only late, very late, after his life, to make love. In his loft bed
that you climb to on a ladder, he feeds her by hand and Ada feels like a bird in a nest.
He drops smoked oysters into her mouth, ergo he loves her. Kiki phones in the middle of
the night, when hes big inside her. The iguana ate some of Kikis jewelry. He
raises his voice, leave him in peace, call the Red Cross, he wasnt a veterinarian.
Kiki produced his pictures but that didnt give her the right. Ada throws her arms
around his neck, in the center of his life.
Sometimes he tortures her. Pushes her gently until she
falls on her back, opens her clothing and looks at her breasts. He doesnt touch her.
He lowers her slip. He crouches, puts his tongue in her navel, moves it in a circle, holds
it flat and very slowly, kneeling over her, traces a line of saliva from her navel to her
sex, pulls her pubic hair up and back. He laps. He sucks. Again he licks, from her navel
to the bottom of her breast. Too slowly he follows the curve of her breast, and when he
reaches the hardened nipple with his sucking lips he aspirates and lifts his mouth and in
the wave of breath Ada sees her nipple lengthen and slowly emerge from his mouth and he
doesnt let go until the elongated, misshapen tip stretches and breaks free quivering
like a spring, then suddenly recovers its original shape. At times he does the same thing
below her waist, presses her clitoris between his lips and releases it slowly, pulling on
it. Then Ada grows desperate, crying out at the pain of her nipple or clitoris becoming
hers again. And he remains kneeling and looks at her again. She wants him to swallow her,
absorb her, devour her. But he does nothing, only watches how Adas breathing arches
with the tide, anticipating the wave of pleasure, asking for more, but no, he leaves the
wave paralyzed, frozen, and Ada opens her eyes and stares at him. In her look perplexity,
the tumult of her senses. He does not move. Until she, in a frenzy, panting like a
windstorm, throws her arms around him and embraces him pleads with him begs him bites him
implores him reproaches him pinches him and he grows enormous below his Chinese eyes. And
only when she is almost weeping with desire and wants to die, only then does he storm her
like a machine, like the piston strokes of a majestic, gleaming old steam engine, until
she dissolves into cries, falls away into sighs.
One day he breaks it off. Completely. She leaves
increasingly desperate messages on his answering machine, but he doesnt return her
calls. When she does reach him he is with Kiki, he cant talk because the iguana is
fighting with his cat. But he doesnt call back. Doesnt call back the next day,
the next three days. On the fourth day he answers the phone. They need him. She and her
body. His voice sounds as if it were coming through a tunnel. Very far away. Ada pleads,
reproaches, demands, he becomes furious, they hang up. She leaves two apologetic messages,
but he doesnt return the calls. She thinks of her pain as a bandage around a cut
that won't heal, the sign of a much greater affliction that is hers alone, and for
which Eric is not responsible. He cant. Not today or tomorrow. Hes very busy.
Day and night. One day she understands, emerges from her sorrow. Cries her way to
forgetting. Day and night. A month goes by. Another month goes by. By the third month she
forgets, convalesces, is cured. She studies African dance and paints with a Japanese
brush. She sees the five women who are her friends. She doesnt talk to them about
Eric anymore. But underneath theres still a hum, a noise running round and round, a
constant uneasiness. As if she had left a cigarette burning, or the iron plugged in. One
sunlit day shes on Fifth Avenue, turns onto 57th Street,
passes a shop where mannequins sunbathe on real sand in striped swim suits and dark
glasses, and while she looks at a blue cellophane sea trembling in currents of air from
fans to simulate waves, all at once she feels a sudden calm, a foolish calm, the calm one
feels after finishing a puzzle. As she opens the door to her apartment, the telephone
rings. Eric has just come back from a month in Holland. Thats why he didnt
call. But now shes the one who doesnt call. She resists. She ties herself to
the mast. He calls the next morning. He says she has to see his new Paris haircut. He
summons her. He has to make love to her. Now. Take a cab. Ada refuses. She practices
African dance. She paints with the Japanese brush. She sees her five friends. He insists,
she resists. Weakness of the flesh? The past, the scars of childhood? She succumbs.
Relapses. Back into the trembling, the uproar in her blood, the music in her bones.
Ah, love, love, said Beatriz as she stood and
began to whirl around, her eyes half-closed, one arm extended and the other encircling the
air at chest height, as if she were waltzing with an invisible partner.
The floor at Agualdos reverberated with dancing feet
that sounded like galloping, and perhaps through association she recalled the old metaphor
comparing man to a carriage pulled by horses that are his emotions. In alcohol-induced
confusion, as she danced alone and spun around, she imagined that she, Beatriz, could be
represented as a carriage drawn by miniature, transparent ponies, or horses controlled to
the maximum by the driver. Thats why she had the feeling her life was not moving
ahead. Just the reverse was true of Ada. Perhaps it was the contrast that attracted
Beatriz to her story and compelled Ada to tell it to her: perhaps the two of them were
opposite sides of the same lack of proportion. Adas horses would be powerful, her
driver too weak or distracted to rein them in. Her carriage finally halted by bolting
horses, Ada too must feel as if her life were going nowhere. Still waltzing, she looked at
her. Ada, who watched Beatriz as if she knew she was thinking about her, walked over to
her and into her arms. They danced, laughing wildly and stumbling over the loose planks of
the wooden terrace under the starry, moonless sky.
When the waltz ended, they stopped dancing and were
startled by a burst of applause. Almost all of Agualdos patrons, in a state of
staggering inebriation, had crowded at the door to watch them.
When the music began again, Chicho approached Ada, Eladio
came over to Beatriz, and the four of them danced island style, hopping and bending their
waists from side to side. Several pairs of men came out to the terrace and joined the
dance, but they crashed into each other in twos and threes and fell over each other to the
uproarious laughter of those who were not dancing but gradually ended up on the floor as
well. The culminating moment came when Rosa, dancing at full tilt, slipped and fell, legs
sprawling, in the middle of the terrace, her sequined dress ripped up to her waist. The
Chief of Police, her husband, and Señor Maximiliano, who covered her thighs with his
jacket, bore her away in solemn procession, the three of them barely able to carry her.
Hunters and the wounded buffalo, whispered Eladio between hiccups. With all
his customers outside, Agualdo began to close up.
Someone suggested building a bonfire on Boulder Beach, and
the members of the group, followed by a dozen fishermen, headed for the ocean. They left
the bubble of light around Agualdos and entered the total darkness of the new moon.
They had to hold on to one another to keep from falling. They formed a long, wavering,
fragmented beast with many legs, arms, and heads. A human centipede slithering toward the
shore, trailed by a pack of dogs and singing out of tune:
Who can forget
that unforgettable sight
the disaster seen
that unforgettable night
of March fourteen?
which referred to the sinking of the Dresden in 1915. Because of their mariachi style, this and the song of Juan
Fernández were best suited to the high emotions of collective drunkenness.
After a while, when they had gone through their
repertoire, the size of the group was reduced; many of the fishermen had been left behind,
snoring in situ, the dogs standing guard and waiting, supposedly, until the men
were in condition to take hold of their tails and be pulled home, a legendary canine
tradition on the island, whose veracity was the subject of great controversy among the
members of the group.
A few fishermen and the group finally reached the beach,
accompanied by their adoptive dogs -- Toby, Chief, Tirana, Yougone, and Whereto.
Two were Utos, no one knew who the other owners were, but though no one fed them, at
night the dogs always trailed after the group. They sang the island songs again, the dogs
filled the pauses with a chorus of howls, and this, combined with Adas irreversible
attack of hiccups, produced a crisis of contagious hilarity. These dogs may not
dance, but at least they can sing, said Pablo, alluding to the dancing cats trained
by Selkirk during his endless days of solitude on the island. Eladio interrupted Julio,
who was quietly explaining the political crisis on the Mainland to some fishermen:
speaking of dancing animals, Julio had to tell them what Rosa said when he danced with her
in Agualdos. They had all seen her whispering into his ear. To the accompaniment of
catcalls and whistles, Julio told them he had a date with her in the morning. She had
asked him to analyze a soil sample. On Juan Fernández that meant gold, and Eladio
proposed an act of revenge: at that time, because of her eviction of Ada and Beatriz, they
all shared his animosity toward Rosa Reed.
Opening his eyes very wide to compensate for the lack of
volume in his voice, Eladio climbed a rock and murmured: Dont say she
doesnt look like a mastodon, Ada: A mastodon with a goiter,
Chicho: No, somethings wrong with her tonsos, Pablo:
Ton-sils, Beatriz: And thats why she always wears that tiny little
scarf around her neck, Ada: It makes you want to cry, Eladio: A
bullfighters scarf round a bulls neck, Ada: Bésame, bésame
mucho. . . . Eladio, pulling his tee shirt into two empty cone shapes and
strutting to show them off: As if tonight were the very last time. And as he
strutted he slipped and fell on the dogs, who began to snap at one another and bark.
Beatriz watched how Eladio stood up in a single agile
motion, how his laugh revealed very white teeth in his broad Indian face. Everything about
him was silky, oiled: a voice like air, a skin like velvet, something feline and silent in
his movements. An absolute anti-intellectual, Eladio allowed himself to live. From a
virtual front row seat, Beatriz watched him clowning with the others on stage: she always
ended up watching others live, sometimes she even watched herself live. She dwelled in the
background, since childhood she had preferred the anonymity of the bystander who listens
so as not to reveal anything about herself, hiding with silence, rather than with words
and noise, her lack of stories.
It began to grow light. Eladio said that Rosas son,
who lived in Valparaíso, wasnt the child of her husband but of Señor Maximiliano
who, they said, was also Nanos real father. That was the reason, a few weeks back,
that Nano rode his horse into the dining room at the Pensión De Rosa. With the animal
rearing on its hind legs and neighing among overturned tables, he had shouted at Rosa that
she could have given birth to him even though she treated him so badly. They say that in
her nightdress, her hair in curlers, and with Señor Reed, suddenly gone deaf, standing
beside her, she had lowered her head, like a bull wounded by banderillas.
One of the fishermen said that The Walker, the only vagabond on the island, was resting in
the branch of a nearby tree one day when he saw Señor Maximiliano through her window. His
pants were down, he held his erect member in one hand, in the other he had a reed and was
tickling Rosa, who lay naked in her bed, covering Señor Reeds snores with a pillow.
The Walker was so surprised, and tried so hard to see more, that he fell out of the tree.
Pablo, refusing to defend Rosa, yawned, took off his cap,
leaned his head on Beatrizs shoulder, and dozed off. Julio resumed his conversation
about the political situation on the Mainland. One by one, as dawn broke, they fell asleep
on the beach in the company of the dogs. When they awoke the sun was high, and Julio ran
to the Reeds house. The rest complained about their aching bones and went to the
dock to wait for his news.
It was, as Julio said when he came back, just what Eladio
predicted. Rosa, who had received him in her bedroom with an icebag on her head, wanted a
soil analysis to determine the presence of minerals, including gold. She was circumspect,
saying she was interested in the soils fertility, and was reluctant to reveal the
exact location of the site.
Chicho proposed that they go fishing for cod. It was a
project that had been postponed repeatedly because they always slept till noon, and by the
time they went down to the dock the boats had already left. They agreed: it was a perfect
morning for going out to sea; the sky was clear, the water sparkling.
As they were climbing into the boat they saw the youngest
Agualdo girl running toward the dock, her braids swinging behind her, her skinny arms
waving, gesturing for them to wait. She was shouting something they couldnt make out
because of the wind. They heard her only when she had almost reached the dock:
A drowned man, a drowned man, a drowned man on
On Lobster Beach, which they could see from the headland
where they stood, there was no body. Just something the size of an adult lobster on the
tiny beach of pebbles and sand. The stones were hot. The girl, her eyes popping, pointed
again and again at the empty beach. There, there, she said, as if she were
As they climbed down, they saw that it was a decomposing
It was stretched out, resting on the small half-moon of
sand. The waves nudged it, and the hand, extended and swollen, barely moved in the waves,
closing gently over a stone as if trying to grasp it. Ada looked away. It was a mans
arm, it looked big, and there was a scrap of cuff of what must have been a blue shirt.
The fishermen rolled up their trousers and walked into the
water, rummaging around with sticks to see if they could locate the rest of the body.
Julio and Eladio left to find a boat and inform the police.
Slavuski, 1998. tr. from Mùsica para olvidar una isla. Argentina: Planeta,
1995, published with permission of the author.