The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Fiction
Punta la Luna
He’s had this terrible nightmare. He saw his wife wobbling in blood. In his dream she was; in real life, she didn’t stir. She was dead, and dead cold though her eyes were wide open. That’s why he has to run away, maybe leave the Island.
When he saw her last she was lying in a puddle of blood. When he saw her like that he got scared and left the house and left her there. He feared to call for help, call the police; now he is sought after; he is a suspect, the suspect, they say, in one of Havana’s gruesomest murders. That’s what they said in the paper. Sixteen times his wife was stabbed. Badly. And no fatal stab. All blows by a six-inch knife and all missed vital organs. The poor bitch lied there, moaned for sure, bled to death. So he was on the run now and has to leave Cuba.
Neighbors say they’d had fights, always, and that he was violent and that he said more than once Te mato puta Te mato deverdad but he never meant it. He only said things like that to scare her when he got mad, or when they were fighting. That’s only when he’d say he would kill her. He never thought it would come down to this, like he never though that somebody would kill her and then he would be blamed.
She had two children she was trying to raise. She had them by two different men. None by him. That’s what he thought. The last one she’d said was his, but the kid looked different. The kid was a mullato and he was black, like her. So he though the kid wasn’t his and he beat her when he was drunk. And lately he was always drunk and he beat her always. But she cared for the children a lot. They were with her mother for some time now, in Guacamaro, a small town. But the old woman has bad legs now, can’t walk almost. But his wife used to send her money. But the old woman needs it for doctors, medicines, and there is none left for the kids. So they fought always because of that too. She needed more. And he beat her. He drank lately too much … because life was hard as it was already with kids or no kids. And that’s why he beat her. And because none of the kids was his too, although she said the last one was. But he didn’t believe the bitch. But he never meant to kill her. He’d just say Te mato puta, but he didn’t kill her. Anyway, he has to run now from Cuba. If not it is jail for him. Maybe a life sentence.
He don’t know how she made money. Whoring probably. He saw her on el Malecon sometimes with her amigas, putas too. He’d never stop and say hello and ask what you’re doing here that late at night. He was that ashamed. She would only smile then from a distance; I’ll see you at home she’d say. He wouldn’t look her way even. He could kill her right there and then, he felt. But he never killed her. And he would drink then. He’d come home and beat her.
She always stashed her money away, the money that she got from whoring, She’d hid it somewhere he could not find it. So he broke chairs and furniture but she won’t tell. Then she fix the furniture. And it looked new again. That’s how they lived: she whoring; he drinking, not much in the way of work; kids, not his, none of them he thought; and now the old woman with bad legs away in Guacamaro.
He heard of this man once that could help. He had to find him and this was hard. He was sought by the police, he had to avoid people. He slept on the beach, in the bushes; in homes that were half crumbled and empty in the old part of town; luckily there were plenty of those. But he had no money and was running out of time. Sooner than later he’s be caught and jailed, maybe for life.
He was woken once by workers in one those empty homes; they mistook him for a drunk or a beggar, which was a miracle – you could see his pictures in all papers, on the walls in his former barrio. Then again two weeks in hiding, fighting dogs for food amongst garbage; he looked like his own ghost in tattered clothes, like San Lazarus.
And then at last he met the man, outside a bar off Obispo, a small dirty hole; anyway, no dirtier than most holes in the back streets in these parts of town. The man was handsome, and he danced well. Anyway, that’s all he did - looked good and danced well. Nobody knew how he’s made money. He was dressed well too. He waited outside for a long time, until the man left the place. He was handsome, all right: tall, square-shouldered. He spoke to him then. It was dark and the man couldn’t see his face. But when one hija de puta swung the door open to catch fresh air and then she stood there with the door open and puked; they were standing there talking like in the spotlight on the stage at El Payret
The man said he could help and he said nothing about the murder. Maybe he didn’t see him well. Maybe he didn’t recognize him. It’s hard to think he don’t know about the killing. He just said he could help. He wanted money though, lots of it which he didn’t have at all. So he said he will have some and that when he’s in Miami he’ll send more, the remaining total. He would make money in Miami, everybody makes money in Miami. And he would send it.
The man hesitated and swore and he said no at first. He said that the money’s got to be paid in advance but then he agreed and told him to be on the beach he had showed him – he drew a map on a crumpled piece of paper with some notes and grease stains he took out of his pocket. The pen wouldn’t write on grease. It took a long time. The man spat on the tip of the pen and cursed. He explained the place well though. He was to be there at night, two days from today, and he had to meet him there and have money. As much as he could get. And some other things, a watch or something. And they would wait for his friend’s boat. The money was for his friend actually, and if he didn’t have any money, then his friend wouldn’t take him. And he said also that if he didn’t have money then don’t waist my time, he said. He said Punta la Luna. Ten o’clock night. Two days from now. Bring the money. And he was gone.
* * *
“Mom?” he called out. He was locked in a dark closet, “Mom, why you crying?”
“I’m not crying. And stop being a pest.”
“You do so. I can hear you crying.”
“Oh will you stop, for amor de dios.”
The man came again and this time too he was asked to sit in the closet and be quiet. And he was told that everything would be alright and that the man would be gone soon. And that he was not hurting mommy and that was only a game the grown-ups play sometimes and that the man when he left he would leave them some money, and that they would then eat again. But he was scared in that dark place with no air where clothes smelled of mothballs. And the place was so small and he was so squished that his legs hurt.
“Mom’s alright hijo,” he heard her say out of breath, then again she was screaming and he heard the man scream things he could not understand, and the whole house seemed to tremble. And then suddenly they would be quiet. And all seemed good. He heard them talking and kiss. This was strange; they were fighting, he heard them scream and furniture moved from so much fighting and the bed rattled and squeaked, and when he thought the man killed his mother for sure, she screamed like she was dying, and when he thought she was dead for good, they’d suddenly stop, kiss and laugh too. Then she would let him out of the closet and his eyes would hurt at first from so much light all of a sudden, but then he’d see that the house was like he’s left it and the bed was unmade but still good, he was sure he’d just heard noises in fear when he was closed in the dark closet. There was always the same strange smell in the room, sweat or something, and his mother’s smell but stronger. He’d never forget that smell. And he remembered the smell of his mother’s hair spray. He’d never forget that too.
Then his mother would leave again and when she was back, they ate. And they were both happy. Yet he hated it when he was locked in that closet and couldn’t see a thing. And he hated the smell of mothballs.
* * *
He now stood on the beach and waited. One hour maybe two hours. He didn’t have the watch he’d promised to bring. Nor did he have the money. He hoped he’d talk to the man’s friend and convince him. He’d say he would send the money for sure, from Miami. He’d say that he never lied in his whole life and always kept his promise once he had made it. And he’d say that he had some friends who’d help him with the job and all, and that the man would not have to wait too long at all. But that he had to leave the Island badly; that his wife was murdered … sixteen times stabbed to death. And the police think it was him who killed the bitch but that he was innocent and when he said many times Te mato hija de puta that he never meant it. Somebody else robbed the whore for sure and killed her like a pig and now he had all these problems. And he needed help.
He saw the man coming, he thought. But then he thought he’d been mistaken. He was alone on the beach, waiting. The moon was high in the sky and save for the sound of the waves, the beach was quiet. There was no boat on the horizon at all.
He thought he’d seen a shadow though, in a small copse at the end of the beach. But than again he saw nothing. He felt he’d miss the Island, he always loved the sea; he’d miss the streets where he grew up. He remembered now, not knowing why, his days by the river’s edge in the mountains where he’d spend summers. He remembered other boys, same age as his, more or less, swimming naked, jumping from the trees whose branches leaned low on the water. Then he remembered catching fish, small fish. He remembered wading in a creek with a glass jar in his hand and fish in the jar scared, eyes wide-opened, swam like mad. He fell once and broke the jar. He left his fish scattered where he fell. He cut his hand badly; it hurt. The fish in convulsion grasped for water as if for air.
Then he felt pain, a sudden pain. Someone hit him with a rock, or something else blunt and heavy. And he felt blood gushing from his head, onto his face. His legs trembled and gave and he knelt in the cold sand and he looked at the sea but could only see blood, blood and the moon and seen like this the moon looked red.
He recalled meeting a man by the river edge where he’d spend summers. And the man was nice at first. He offered him candies. He asked about his dad. But he didn’t have one. He did that is, just he’d never met him. The man was sorry to hear what he told him. He asked about his mom and he was sorry she worked so hard and that she was nearly murdered each and every time they were hungry.
They met again once, a week or so later. He wasn’t certain. Many years have passed since. Maybe they’d only met once. But he remembered the man pulling his pants down, holding him to the ground and he remembered that what the man did, hurt him. And later at home he was bleeding from his anus. He’d call it bum then of course. And his abuela was worried. He wouldn’t tell her though what happened. He wasn’t sure why he did not. And his abuela had gone to fetch a witch woman who had him drink something awful. After that, the bleeding stopped. He never saw the man again.
He felt now regaining his senses momentarily, and he saw his assailant. He was nervous, his assailant was; he was going through his pockets. And he saw his face. The man hit him again. With his fist this time; several times it seemed; hard as he could have. But he felt nothing.
He though about his school, about growing up in the mountains in his abuela’s home. He simply stayed on with her one summer gone. He didn’t like it. He missed his mother a lot but, at least, he wasn’t being locked in the closet.
In school he was picked on, he was new and he didn’t have a father, and his mother was away too. But soon everybody was orphaned the same way, with parents leaving for big cities, going overseas, and never coming back. He enjoyed those years with other boys then. He had many friends. They spent days together, after school. They collected cigar butts and smoke them, mostly in some ruined homes that smelled of urine. They were all happy then. They laughed half-drunk from the smoke of tobacco; they masturbated. The smoke would sometimes make them vomit.
He felt water filing his lungs. He spat it out choking. He struggled with a force he felt was not his; he felt numb but his arms held tide onto the man; his legs kicking. The man fought hard to drown him. He pushed and kept his head under water. But he was not to give up. He choked, swallowed water, spat it out, and fought on. Then he thought of when he’d met his wife; she was slim and pretty. She smelled of flowers and candies, and of a hair spray, like his mother’s. And what if the child was his, he thought. And then everything stopped, everything.
© Piotr Wesolowski February 2012
A Rainy Day
It rained in Jerusalem. It rained in Bethlehem. It snowed somewhere in the mountains across the Sinai; for the rest … just scattered flurries.
and dragging his feet past cracked, edgeless steps, he followed
a dark narrow staircase that led to the exit downstairs
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