by Graciela Lorenzo Tillard
The atmosphere in the Lawyers’ Club lounge is warm; the continuous whisperings work like a soft tranquilizer. As usual, the television is on tuned in to the channel that shows executions. Its volume is only a murmur, but I know what’s happening. They are executing me. Finally!
I lift up my hand to get the waiter’s attention and I order champagne. He looks at me as he serves it. I know he is surprised, because I don’t usually drink alcohol at that hour, at least not there. He leaves the bottle in the bucket with ice cubes on a little table nearby.
Several lawyers walk here and there in the lounge, whispering. One or another directs a discreet greeting toward me, nodding slightly. I smile in response.
Slowly I grow drowsy; this sofa is so comfortable... this atmosphere is so propitious... in such a happy moment...
* * *
The pressure of a hand on my arm brings me back to reality. Reality? That’s my secretary saying she needs my signature on some papers.
She was suspicious and distrustful from the very beginning. She felt there were details that were incongruous. If she found that some seemed ambiguous, I explained it as incidental without clarifying further.
When I told the employees and associates that I was abandoning my profession, she was surprised. She looked at me with her large mouse eyes. Ever since then she kept watching all my movements. What reasons did I give to justify my retirement? The need of rest, the desire to enjoy my fortune before I was too old, a vague allusion to some problem with my health...
I sign the papers after reading them thoroughly. She’s a bit bothered, but I must be very careful until the last moment.
And that matter of my hands, it was so painful! I kept them bandaged for three months, and now when I look at them I think the price wasn’t too high. But I had made up my mind just in time. Six months later, the insurance policy would be renewed for all the personnel in the legal office, including myself, and that would have caused no end of trouble. From now on I would live off my income, have a good name, enjoy a beautiful house without close family... and be devoted to travel!
* * *
Perhaps I should tell you: I am here because a journey.
We escaped after committing a robbery and murdering everyone present at the scene. Such an unrivaled sensation! The arrangements my partner had made for our getaway didn’t work. Pursued and hopeless we arrived at the port. We dove into the water and reached a ship that was departing, just in the nick of time. I knew then that luck was on my side. Our booty was almost completely lost, but enough was left to bribe a sailor, who concealed us and gave us some food. Twenty-four hours in the dark... and then we had to get off the boat.
Where were we? That coast was strange; almost a desert shore. We saw a village in the distance, and we went there. In a few days I became lord and master of the place. The inhabitants were odd; everybody was so still, so opaque, so slow... I ordered, I organized, I decided, I dominated them.
A very old woman dropped by to talk to me. I told my servants to kick her out because she was very ugly. No, not her, she is sacred, they said.
We had a talk. She seemed to know more about me than I knew about myself. She proposed an exchange: she would solve my problems once and for all if I would come back for her.
“Come back? I won’t leave,” I said.
“They will come for you. They already know you are here,” she responded.
“Okay, it’s a deal.”
And then she told me things about souls, about holding hands... and about a lawyer in particular. She knew him well, I suppose, somehow. She made me memorize a very strange and rhythmic kind of song.
Before the night ended I was imprisoned and charged with murder. In the confusion after the policemen arrived, my partner was shot dead.
And now I am going back to that town on the coast, to fulfill my part of the bargain with the old woman.
Maybe I will kill her...
Copyright © 2005 by Graciela Inés Lorenzo Tillard