Back home, in Cartagena, the night is cold and lonely. That is what
my sister, Natalya tells me. She has come to visit. She sits on the hard
concrete floor facing me, and she has brought
and breadfruit, which I will keep for later. She also brings a rifle, and
ammunition. I look at the slender barrel and the sleek curve of the
trigger. Its beauty reminds me of her. Just in case, she says. She tells
me that my father is sick. He’s turning this colour, she points at the
rough skin of the breadfruit, and laughs. I do not care, of course. She
looks at me.
You look well, she says.
I prod at the fruit carefully. I tell her that she should go home,
before El Padre comes.
You look well, she says again.
I know that is not true. I have not eaten, and the food she has
brought taunts me. I stand up, and she does too. Now, when I look
forward, I see her beautiful angular collarbones. Goodnight Natalya,
I say. Goodnight, sister.
, and I live under the protection of El
Padre, who has taken me in from the streets of Medellín. I am called
, El Padre’s little harlot. I lie awake on my cowhide mat, rolling
a bullet between my fingers. I press the tip into my forefinger. The
night is cold and lonely, I remember. I left Cartagena when I had but
nine years, when my father told me I was worthless, and I reminded
him of my mother. At that moment, I hear El Padre’s voice ring
through stale air of the house. He sounds like he has been drinking.
As he makes his way up the stairs, I begin to smell it too, the sharp
scent of cheap, concentrated wine, designed to intoxicate. He must
have had a victory tonight. Out there, in the cold, lonely night, I
imagine, is the body of anotorious gang leader,mangled and saturated
with blood, head split open, like a coconut. My breathing becomes
heavy, as I try to replicate sleep.
Damita! He chimes in a cloud of drunkenness.
He knows I am awake. Damita, what is this? His hand reaches
over to mine, and peels away my curled fingers. A golden bullet rolls
onto the mat. His black snake eyes flash in the moonlight, and
laughter booms from him, like thunder. I hear more voices, more
laughter, and I can taste liquor on my lips. I do not remember the
rest of the night.
In A Burst