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Armando Palacio Valdés en AlbaLearning

Armando Palacio Valdés

"The crime of the street of Perseguida"

Biografía de Armando Palacio Valdés en Wikipedia

 
The crime of the street of Perseguida
OBRAS DEL AUTOR
Cuentos
El crimen de la calle de la Perseguida
El pájaro en la nieve
El sueno de un reo de muerte
¡Solo!
 
English (Text)
The crime of the street of Perseguida
A bird in the snow
 
Textos Paralelos Bilingües
El crimen - The crime
Un pájaro - A bird
 
LE PUEDE INTERESAR
Cuentos de Amor
Cuentos Infantiles y Juveniles
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Cuentos de Misterio y Terror
Textos Bilingües
 

--Here where you see me, I am an assassin.

--How is this so, don Elias? He asked smiling, as he filled the cup of beer.

--Don Elias is the kindest, most long sufering and disciplined man that the Telegraph Company has; incapable of declaring himself to strike notwithstanding that the director commanded you to brush his pants.

--Yes sir, there are circumstances in life…There comes a time in which the man is more peaceful.

--I see, I see; I want you to tell me this-- now filled with curiosity--

--It was in the winter of seventy-eight. I had become redundant because of reform and I went to live at O…with a married daughter that I have there. My life was very good, to eat, to walk, to sleep. Some times I helped by Son-in-law that was employed by the City Hall. We dined invariably at 8 o'clock. After my grand daughter went to bed, who was then three years old and today is a beautiful young girl, blonde, buxom, the kind you like (I modestly lowered my eyes and took a sip of beer), I used to go to visit a Mrs. Nieves, a widow woman who lived alone in the street of the Perseguida, in a house she owned, grand, only one floor with a dark entry and steps of stone. Don Gerardo Piquero, who had been manager of the Customs of Puerto Rico and was retired, used to go too. He died two years ago the poor. He used to go at nine. I never came up before nine-thirty. However, at ten-thirty he used to leave while I used to stay until eleven or more.

On this certain night I said goodbye, as usual at that hour. Mrs. Nieves is very economical and lives like a poor person, notwithstanding that she possessed lots of money for living as a grand woman. She did not turn on the light to the steps and the entryway. When I went out, the maid lighted the kitchen with the overhead lamp. When I closed the door to the entrance she closed the floor light and I went out in darkness because there was very little light in the street.

By taking the first step I felt what is commonly called one cate; I felt a strong hit that pushed my hat down to my nose. I was paralyzed with fear and I fell against the wall. I thought I heard laughs and a little after overcoming the terror took off my hat.

--Who are you? I said. I gave my voice a formidable and threatening accent. 

No one answered. Several assumptions passed quickly through my imagination Are they trying to rob me? Would those young men try to have fun at my expense? I decided to go out immediately because the door was clear. When I was in the middle of the corridor I got a strong hit on the buttocks with the palm of the hand and a group of 5 or 6 men appeared blocking the door.

--Help! I yelled dully, retreating back to the door.  The men commenced to jump before me gesticulating extravagantly.  I had the utmost terror.

--Where are you going at this hour, robber? Said one of them.

--He is going to rob the dead. He is a doctor --said another. 

Then crossed my mind the suspicion that they were drunk, and recovering I cried loudly:

--Leave! Scoundrels let me pass or I will hit someone…

At the same time I lifted my iron cane that a master of the weapons factory had offered me as a gift and that I used to take with me on those nights.

The men paid no attention and continued dancing before me, and running the same fumbling gestures. I could see in the dim light coming from the street that always put ahead one as stronger or solved, behind which the others hid:

--Well, well, no kidding! Let me go.

--Surrender dog! They responded, without stopping their fantastic dancing.

Now I have no doubt that they were drunk. Because of this and because in his hands a weapon was not shining, I calmed down relatively. I lowered the stick and trying to give my words accent of authority, I said:

- Give it up, dog! Are you going to suck the blood of the dead? Are you going to cut off someone's leg? Rip off someone's ear! Get him out an eye! Throw by the nose!

Such were the voices who left the group in response to my indictment. At the same time they moved closer to me. One of them, not the one coming forward, but another, extended his arm over the shoulder of the first and grabbed my nose and gave me a strong pull, which made me cry out in pain. I jumped across because my back almost touched the wall, and I being able to step back from them and raising the cane, and blind with rage I hit the one that was coming forward. He fell heavily to the ground without saying ouch! The rest fled.

I was then alone and I eagerly waited the one injured to complain or moved. Nothing, not a groan, nor the slightest movement. Then I got the idea that I could have killed him. The cane was really heavy, and I've had a lifetime hobby of gymnastics. I hurried, with trembling hand, to take the matchbox and lit a match ...

I cannot describe that which came over me. Lying on the ground, face up, lay a dead man. Dead, yes! I Clearly saw death painted on her pale face. The match fell from my fingers and I was again in darkness. I could see him just for a moment but the vision was so intense that not a detail escaped me. He was big, with a black beard, black and matted beard, large and aquiline nose, dressed in a blue shirt, pants and sandals of that color, head wearing black beret. It looked like a factory worker of arms, a gunsmith, as they say there.

I can affirm without lying that the things I thought in a second, there in the dark, I would not be able to consider now in a whole day. I saw with perfect clarity what was going to happen. The death of that man would be followed by the police arresting me, the dismay of my son, my daughter fainting, screaming my granddaughter; then the jail, the process, lazily crawling through the months and perhaps the years, the difficulty of proving that it had been in self-defense, the prosecution's calling me murdererer, as always happens in these cases, the defense lawyer arguing my honored history; then the judgment maybe acquiting me, maybe sentencing me to prison.

With a bound I stood in the street and ran to the corner, but I realised there that I had no hat, and I came back. I entered back into the hall with great reluctance and fear. I lit another match and I cast a sideways glance at my victim hoping to encourage him. Nothing; there was in the same place, rigid, yellow without a drop of blood on his face, which made ​​me think that he died of concussion. I looked for the hat, and tried to smooth it with my hand. I put it on and went out.

But this time I tried not to run. The survival instinct had completely taken over me, and suggested me all means to evade justice. I stuck to the wall by the shadow side and, walking noiseless, turned where the street of the Perseguida, entered the San Joaquin and walked toward my house. I tried to give my feet all the calmness and composure possible. But when in Altavilla street, I was starting to feel more reassured, suddenly approaches a guard of City Hall.

---Don Elias, will you please have the kindness to tell me ?...

I heard nothing. The leap I took was so great that there were some metters between me and the officer. Then, without looking, I embarked on a desperate race, crazy, through the streets. I arrived at the outskirts of the city, and there I stopped panting and sweaty. Reflection came to me. What a terrible thing I have done! That guard knew me. He had possibly come to ask me something about my son. My bizarre behavior had filled him with wonder. He would think I was crazy, but the next morning, when he took notice of the crime, he would suspect me and take me to the judge. My sweat suddenly turned cold.

Terrified, I walked to my house, and I soon get to it. I happened to get a happy idea. I went straight to my room, I put the iron rod in the closet and took another rush I had, and went back out. My daughter came to the door surprised. I made up that I had an appointment with a friend in the casino, and, indeed, I went with long strides towards this site. There were still present in the room adjoining the pool some of those who formed the last minute gathering. I sat next to them, I pretended to be in good mood, I was excessively cheerful and tried by all means that they set their eyes on the cane that was in my hand. I folded it up into a bow, whipped my pants, used it like a foil, touched them on their backs with it to ask them anything, let it fall to the ground. Anyway, there was nothing I did not do.

When at last the gathering finished and, in the street, having said goodbye to my friends I felt more reassured. But when I get home and stay alone in the room, mortal sadness seized me. I realized that this trick only served to aggravate my situation if the suspicions fell on me. I took off my clothes mechanically, and sat on the edge of the bed for a long time, absorbed in my gloomy thoughts. At last the cold forced me to bed.

I could not close my eyes. I rolled a thousand times between the sheets, with a fatal restlessness, that fear, silence and solitude was making more cruel. Each moment I expected to hear knocks at the door, and the steps of the police on the stairs. However, I fell asleep at dawn with a heavy slumber; my daughter's voice woke me up:

--It is already ten, father. How terrible you look! Did you have a bad night?

-- On the contrary, Instead, I slept divinely - I said quickly. I did not trust even in my daughter. Then I added, affecting naturalness:

-- Has the paper (Eco del Comercio) arrived?

-- Of course!

--Bring it to me.

 

When she left, I began to read all of it with anxiously without seeing anything. Finally with a supreme effort for serenity I was able to read the section of the happenings (the latest news), where there was one that said:

 

"STRANGE HAPPENING"

"The Provincial Hospital nurses have the objectionable habit of using peaceful alienated there in the asylum for various commissions, including transporting the bodies to the autopsy room. Last night four insane, performing this service, found open the patio door giving access to the park of San Ildefonso, and they escaped with the corpse.When the hospital administrator had notice of the fact, several emissaries went in their search, but their efforts were futile. At one in the morning they appeared at the hospital but without the corpse. This was found by the night watchman of the street of la Perseguida, in the hall of Doña Nieves Menéndez. We plead the director of Provincial Hospital to take measures to make these outrageous acts are not repeated. "

I dropped the paper of the hands, and I was seized with a convulsive laugh, which degenerated into hysterics.

-- So you had killed a dead?

--Precisely.

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