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 son’s 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 and touch her body. That was when Juan Renguel would pick up his guitar and Agualdo’s 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 Agualdo’s. The men who muttered obscenities as they explored the chasm of her decolletage to the sound of Señor Reed’s 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 ascendant bourgeoisie.

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 alarm.

When Juan Renguel stopped playing for a time, Beatriz picked up the guitar and put it on Ada’s lap.

“I’d really like you to sing the song you sang when you met him,” she said.

“Why?” asked Ada.

“It’s from Juan Fernández isn’t it? You learned it here, didn’t you? And tonight you could give it back to the island, couldn’t 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 Ada’s memory, to become mixed with Ada’s drunkenness here and now, be tainted with the sweat and heavy feet of the fishermen.

“But a string’s missing,” Ada said, looking at the guitar as if it were an unclassifiable animal.

“A string’s always missing,” said Beatriz, slipping down to the floor because she could barely stand. “Something’s always missing. For instance,” and she struggled to her feet, swaying, “now the floor’s missing but I’m walking all the same.”

Beatriz put the guitar over her shoulder and staggered out of Agualdo’s, followed by Ada. They sat down side by side, leaning against the wall that shook with the fishermen’s 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 haven’t sung it since that time at Estrella’s. How did you know?”

Beatriz shrugged.

“And you, did you find the solution to the puzzle?” she asked.

“I solved it the following week, on a plane to Puerto Rico.”

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 Love’s darting glances. Chance, reflects Ada that bright morning, is not the weapon or instrument of fate but fate’s 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 York.

“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 didn’t 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 it’s as if they were already naked with their hands on the other’s body. Ada’s 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 Ada’s 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 Eric’s 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. Congratulations.”

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 there’s nothing more ridiculous than fear of being ridiculous.

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 don’t 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 he’ll have supper at her place some day during the week, he didn’t know which day because he hated to plan ahead.

And after that first supper at her house, which Ada doesn’t want to talk about and when it’s 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 she’s 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 she’s 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 it’s 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 there’s another life in his life. She doesn’t even want to know that she doesn’t 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 he’s big inside her. The iguana ate some of Kiki’s jewelry. He raises his voice, leave him in peace, call the Red Cross, he wasn’t a veterinarian. Kiki produced his pictures but that didn’t 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 doesn’t 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 doesn’t 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 Ada’s 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 doesn’t return her calls. When she does reach him he is with Kiki, he can’t talk because the iguana is fighting with his cat. But he doesn’t call back. Doesn’t 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 doesn’t 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 can’t. Not today or tomorrow. He’s 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 doesn’t talk to them about Eric anymore. But underneath there’s 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 she’s 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. That’s why he didn’t call. But now she’s the one who doesn’t 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 Agualdo’s 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. That’s 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. Ada’s 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 Agualdo’s 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 Agualdo’s 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 Uto’s, 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 Ada’s 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 Agualdo’s. 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: “Don’t say she doesn’t look like a mastodon,” Ada: “A mastodon with a goiter,” Chicho: “No, something’s wrong with her tonsos,” Pablo: “Ton-sils,” Beatriz: “And that’s why she always wears that tiny little scarf around her neck,” Ada: “It makes you want to cry,” Eladio: “A bullfighter’s scarf round a bull’s 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 Rosa’s son, who lived in Valparaíso, wasn’t the child of her husband but of Señor Maximiliano who, they said, was also Nano’s 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 Reed’s 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 Beatriz’s 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 soil’s 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 couldn’t 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 Lobster Beach.”


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 hallucinating.

As they climbed down, they saw that it was a decomposing human arm.

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 man’s 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.


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©Victoria Slavuski, 1998. tr. from Mùsica para olvidar una isla. Argentina: Planeta, 1995, published with permission of the author.






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