I had been adopted as a kitten by the myriad of grandchildren that bastard had, although actually nobody ever made a stand to claim my ownership and very often none of them fed me. Quite creatively, considering the color of my hair, they called me Gallardó, meaning “black” in the old language of the gypsies. Humans and animals lived cluttered in small shacks made out of wood and metal sheets. Hygiene was nowhere to be seen and I had to lick my parts constantly in order to keep flees and other parasites in line.
The cops, the “pestañí” as they used to call them, put a lot of pressure on the area with constant raids and searches, but even so, the smuggling continued more than ever. Clients continued to come to collect their doses and these drug clans continued to amass huge fortunes that they used to hide in holes beneath the shacks. The bosses of each of these clans, behind a façade of respectability and good nature, were cruel and brutal, not only towards their rivals, but also their own families and whoever dared to question their supremacy.
Very often I was mistreated and more often than not I had to hunt for my own sustenance, like foraging. What a shame! As if it was not hard enough having to live in the same place with these mischievous humans, I even had to eat my food raw. That day I was specially hungry and despite my efforts to provoke some tenderness in any of the humans within reach, I saw myself forced to chase a miserable mouse as famished as I was, the poor wretched soul. There is no doubt that the lack of proteins in my body had begun to affect my most basic bodily functions, and I was not as agile as it takes to participate in any hunting party that deserves that name.
When emerging out of a pile of trash, just in front of Tío Jacinto’s house, I stumbled over a stone and fell down, and the mouse ran away not quite believing that he was going to live another day after all. I happened to fall before that old man, obese, in his permanently stained shirt and greasy hair. Unfortunately, Tío Jacinto had just decided he would be a real asshole that morning and kicked me on the left side, so hard, that I was propelled almost two meters away and could not stand up anymore…
During the whole two hours I was waiting for the veterinarian to come out and tell me how the cat was, I had plenty of time to think about my life and the events of that night. I had luckily found the only vet on duty that evening, and I honestly expected he could do something for the poor creature. Working as a hitman, you do not usually have the chance to show any kind of mercy or express any feeling about anyone. But that black cat had brought to my mind a past that I had believed to be gone a long time ago.
In that past, which now seems to belong to a former life, a movie, or just something lived by someone else, I’m a 9-year-old boy. I run all over the place, playing all the fantastic games that are only enjoyed in my mind. I goof around with plants, animals, stones, pieces of wood…
I am on the Island of El Hierro, one of the Canaries, a tiny, mountainous and wild rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. As usual, I am spending the summer holidays at my grandparents’ house. I love them very much and they love me too. They are a strange but formidable couple. Granny is very small but incredibly energetic, hardworking and tough. Grandpa is very tall and thin but incredibly strong considering he is in his 80s. He is like a good giant, loves animals and kids. Everyone in that small village knows them and respects them out of pure admiration. They are the image of a whole generation who have built my own country and several others due to the emigration they had to undergo.
When I see properties where there is a small dog, may be a Chihuahua, together with a big one (a Rottweiller) and the small one is the most aggressive, I remember my grandparents with a smile. In most of the households in El Hierro there used to be animals, they were in practice like small farms and among all those animals, cats were the most independent, they were usually out in the fields most of the day and came back home at lunch, breakfast or dinner time. Grandpa had a kitten, it was rather wild but was very tender and friendly with all of us, with grandpa and me most of all. We used to play with him for hours in those never ending afternoons of my childhood.
Panchito, that was his name, was tiny, gray, and with stripes very much like a tiger. He was basically our best friend that summer. Until we found his corpse.
My grandparent’s place was very close to the road. One morning we found him lying on the ground, dead but without a single injury on his body. Grandpa said that he probably had been hit by a car and died due to internal injuries. We all cried a lot that day, and Panchito was for hours lying on the floor because none of us dared to bury him. Finally, Grandpa did. I never knew where.
It is curious how something like that can be in your mind for more than 40 years and still hurt when recalled.
The sudden appearance of the veterinarian made me leave my memories. Apparently the black cat was going to survive… “Is it your cat?” asked the vet. “No, it isn’t,” I replied. “Okay, he’s going to be alright. He only has two broken ribs; it looks like a blunt object hit him on the left side. Tomorrow he’ll be able to go home, but he is going to need a lot of rest. Are you taking him.” “Yeah, sure,” I said, without knowing why… “Well the cat hasn’t got a chip so we’ll have to implant one and enter your data on it if you want to keep him. What is his name?”
“Kunta,” – again, I don’t know why I said that. “What?” asked the vet. “Kunta Kinte. Considering he’s completely black, it seems kind of appropriate.” ”Oh, how fun…” – Some people are just too bitter to get an innocent joke…
(…to be continued…)
In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)
Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey
January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan
February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asryan
March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez
April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Toni Wallis
May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko
June: A Girl Pedaling – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas
July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk
August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido
September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández
October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino
November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake
December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva
Background – Context
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
More work by Jonay Quintero Hernández
Extremism Is Now the New Hype – Jonay Quintero Hernández
The Fear of Not Knowing – Jonay Quintero Hernández
Embracing Instability – Jonay Quintero Hernández
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Cover photo: El Hierro, Spain – On the island – underworld (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed