Alberto Julián Pérez es un ensayista, narrador y poeta argentino, autor de los libros Literatura, peronismo y liberación nacional, Corregidor, 2014; Revolución poética y modernidad periférica, Corregidor, 2009; Los dilemas políticos de la cultura letrada, Corregidor, 2002, entre otros. En 2015 aparecieron sus Cuentos argentinos y la novela El valor de una mujer; en 2016 su historia satírica La mafia en Nueva York; y en 2017 su libro Poemas argentinos, todos en Riseñor Ediciones.
Facundo Garay was a professor of Spanish
Language and Literature at the Colegio Nacional No. 1 de Rosario. He had
studied Literature at the Universidad de Rosario many years before. His best
friend, Eduardo Zannini, who studied with him at the Universidad, was a
professor of Latin American Literature at Texas Tech University. He had left
Rosario for the United States shortly after having completed his bachelor’s
degree and had continued his studies at New York University, where he finished
Facundo, in addition to teaching thirty
hours a week at the Colegio Nacional, had been, until very recently, Teaching Assistant
of Argentine Literature at the University of Rosario, and was professor of that
same subject at the Instituto Superior de Profesorado. He had a heavy workload.
He was always thinking about how well his friend in Texas lived. Eduardo had an
excellent professional career. He had published several books on literary
criticism. He specialised on the works of Borges, Sábato and Bolaño. He taught classes
a few hours a week and had free time to research and to write. That was the
privilege of being a professor in the United States. He came to Buenos Aires
every year. Sometimes he visited with Facundo in Rosario, where he had family.
As young men they were inseparable. The two
wrote poetry. They founded a literary magazine that produced several issues. As
they got older they left poetry behind, but always kept a bit of their poetic
selves. They were dreamers and not very practical. It was not easy for them to
earn a living. Even when he was doing well with his job, Eduardo told him that
academic life in the United States was complicated. Those who managed to
succeed were the ones who knew how to place themselves but were not always the
best ones for the task. With luck he had been able to gain a permanent position
at Texas Tech and he felt secure. He was single and had his own house. He
taught Hispanic American and Argentine literature (not Peninsular) and had an
excellent group of doctoral students.
Facundo was divorced and had a daughter,
whom he almost never saw. He lived alone, like Eduardo. He also studied and
wrote, but he had very little free time. He spent the weekends at home so he
could write. He wrote book reviews and notes on culture for the Sunday edition
of the local newspaper, La Capital.That was not his only extracurricular
activity. He was a member of the organising committee of Rosario´s annual International
Poetry Festival. Facundo was well considered in the literary circles of the
city.He worked a lot, and much like
other Rosarinos, he had a passion for travel. He saved money so he could go
abroad every summer.He almost always
went to Europe, mainly France, which was his favorite country. He studied
French on his own and spoke it very well.
Eduardo had invited him many times to Texas,
but the United States had never interested him. Finally, Eduardo, who wished
that he would visit his home, made him an offer that he could not refuse. They
both liked gaucho literature and the stories of the rural bandits of the
nineteenth century. He offered to take him to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, if he
visited him in Lubbock. Fort Summer was the town where Billy the Kid had once
lived and fought, and where he was killed. He was buried there. Together they
could travel through New Mexico, land of the cowboys, and visit his tomb. He
liked the idea. Eduardo told him that some of his students had ranches near
Lubbock, where the university was located. They might spend a weekend on a
ranch, ride horses, and get to know Texas Southern Plains - the “Llano Estacado.”Finally, the academic year ended and Facundo
prepared to go. He would travel in early January, when his friend was on winter
break. There, the seasons were exactly the opposite of the ones in Argentina.
He planned to stay all of January and February with his friend Eduardo. The
other would start his classes in the middle of January, but he only taught six
hours per week and would have time to attend to him. They would be able to do
things together and talk about literature, which was their true passion. At the
end of February, before he returned to Rosario to resume his work, they planned
to make a four-day trip, during a long weekend, to New Mexico, at which time
they would visit Fort Sumner, Santa Fe, and Taos, where the Pueblo Indians
When Facundo arrived in Lubbock, Eduardo was
waiting for him at the airport. The place was very different from what he had
imagined. The weather was dry. The buildings were flat, large and spread out. The
university campus was beautiful, it was like a self-contained city. He had never seen anything like that.
His friend lived in a new house with various
rooms. What most impressed him were the bathrooms. He had three. What professor
could live like this in Rosario? His friend had a gathering at his home in his
honor. He invited his graduate students. They enjoyed the locally produced wine.
It was fairly good. He had no idea that Texas was a wine producer. The students
from the Hispanic Literature department were very interesting.They came from different countries: Mexico, Spain,
Colombia, Costa Rica. The North Americans were few.Among them was a young woman, Helen, who drew
his attention. She wasn’t especially beautiful, but he found her attractive.
She was from Texas and spoke Spanish very well, almost without an accent. She
was writing a dissertation on Argentine literature under Eduardo’s direction.
She had visited Buenos Aires and Mendoza, but had never been to Rosario. The
topic of her dissertation was the novels of Eduardo Gutiérrez. She argued that
Gutiérrez was the most original author of the gaucho novel. He was the one who
started the cycle and presented the gaucho like a rebel who didn’t give in to a
decent society (unlike the gaucho Martín Fierro had done in the second part of Martín Fierro), and who did not accept
working as a peon (unlike the gauchos of Güiraldes in Don Segundo Sombra would do years later). The gaucho of Gutierrez,
as proven in Juan Moreira, was a
being who loved liberty and fought to the death to defend it. To her, Moreira
represented the true spirit of Argentina and for this reason the novel passed onto
the stage and gave birth to the Argentine National Theatre at the end of the
Nineteenth Century. The Argentine identified himself with Moreira and not with
Don Segundo Sombra. The film director Leonardo Fabio had imagined Moreira as a
rebellious anarchist, victim of the political manipulations of those in power.
She had met Fabio in Buenos Aires and had spoken with him.
Facundo thought Helen’s ideas were brilliant.
She spoke with elegance and clarity. He found her quite enchanting. Of course,
she was young, and he was fifty years old. He saw the wedding band on her left
hand, and didn’t say anything. It had been a long time since Facundo had had a
significant love. His family life had been frustrating. He had
divorced his wife seven years before. He hardly ever saw his daughter. She was
twenty years old and studied medicine. The fights with his ex were constant. It
was a relationship that, even though they were separated, continued to torture
Eduardo told him that Helen was married to a
rancher, a rich Anglo man.There were many
large agricultural establishments, cotton plantations and peanut farms, in the
area. You could see also many oil wells. However, the older Texans considered
themselves ranchers, livestock producers. They were cowboys at heart.This is what caught Facundo’s attention, and
this is what he liked.In Argentina
there were almost no gauchos left, and nobody dressed as a gaucho anymore,
except in TV shows.When he visited the
university campus, he saw young students wearing Texan cowboy boots,
wide-rimmed cowboy hats, and tight cowboy pants, like in so many western films.
All they lacked was the revolver at their side. His friend told him that they
had such weapons, but that they were not permitted to carry them on campus.
Texas defended the right to bear arms. They considered this an inalienable
When the semester started at the university,
Eduardo invited Facundo to visit one of his classes. He was teaching a graduate
course on Martín Fierro and the gaucho
novel. He liked listening to him read in Texas the verses written by Hernández.
It was as if the gaucho had run into the spirit of the cowboy. He thought that
both had so much in common. But maybe he was wrong. His friend talked about the
role of the rural police and of the army in Martín
Fierro. He said that the Argentines considered the police force a sect of corrupt
and thieving swindlers. They believed the police used the institution to rob
and abuse their own countrymen. In the American West they had a different idea
of the law: they thought it could redeem society. The police persecuted the
bandits, who tended to be cruel, like Billy the Kid. The Argentine army was
even more perverse than the police. They
imprisoned the gauchos and sent them to the frontier as recluses, stole their
possessions and destroyed their families. Martín Fierro’s behavior was
justified. He was a victim of the state. He rebelled against injustice. Martín Fierro was a novel of social protest.
The legend of Billy the Kid was something else entirely. It dealt with an assassin with no
justification, and enemy of order and public peace.
A student asked why the tone and the ideas
of the narrative poem changed so much in the second half of Martín Fierro, written seven years after
the first part. Facundo told the class that it was the life that Hernández had
led that had changed. He had attained economic stability and political
recognition. They asked him why the main character hated Indians so much. In
Texas there was a political movement that defended the rights of Indians.
Facundo responded that Hernández despised them and considered them savages. The
natives were at war with white society. However, at the end of the first part
of the poem the characters of Fierro and Cruz took refuge with the Indians to
escape the barbarity of the white man. Indians were not considered a part of
society, and they robbed cattle to survive. A year after the second part of the
narrative poem appeared, General Roca organised the expedition to the “desert,”
as they called the large tracks of land beyond the Indian frontier, and drove
the Indians from their territories. The Argentine government took charge of those
extended tracks of land and a large portion of them ended in the hands of the
military commanders. Hernández was a supporter of Roca’s political party, and
Roca himself was elected president of Argentina after the successful war.
Hernández became a senator.
Helen invited them both to spend a weekend
at the ranch with her and her husband. The place was large and modern. They had
livestock, around five hundred animals. The husband told them that they kept
the livestock only as a matter of nostalgia. They actually lived from what was
produced by the oil wells that had been discovered in a few of the family’s
fields. He maintained the ranch as a family tradition.His family had bought it in 1850, and he had
sold a part of it a few years back. At one point it had more than 8,000 acres.
They rode on horseback and had a barbecue, the North American version of the
asado. Facundo didn’t like it much, since they had put a sweet sauce on the
meat, and the cut was very different from the Argentine version. They cut the
ribs along the bone, instead of across, as they did in Argentina. He did like
riding on horseback, even though he couldn´t ride very well. He had been on
horseback very few times in his life. He loved the beauty and the power of
horses, and identified with the Texans, who were true cowboys. He saw, though, that
the American cowboys were quite different from the Argentine gauchos.
They spoke of the bandits that destroyed
lives along the roads in the nineteenth century and of Billy the Kid. Facundo
had trouble communicating in English. He had studied the language for years in
Aricana, in Rosario, but he could hardly speak it. He realized that he had been
taught it very poorly. He could recite the verb tenses from memory, but he
could neither express his ideas nor understand what was said to him in English.
Eduardo told Helen and her husband that they would be travelling to New Mexico
in February to visit the tomb of Billy the Kid. Frank did not speak Spanish, so
Helen served as interpreter. Frank said that his great grandfather had known
Billy the Kid. He had passed through his ranch looking for work. His great
grandfather had hired him, and he had stayed there for about three weeks. He
had a quarrel with another cowhand and the man insulted him. Billy did not
defend himself or start a fight, but everybody knew he was going to look for
him later. He was known for being resentful and treacherous.After that, his great grandfather told Billy
to leave, since he did not want any fights among his men. At that point he was
not known for being an outlaw. That came later, duringLincoln’s War, when he became the leader of a
band of vigilantes. In Fort Sumner he led an armed confrontation over four days,
between his men and those of a local landowner, which resulted in a large
number of casualties. After this, the Government put a price on his head, and
from then on it was only a matter of time. Cowboys would do anything for money.
Furthermore, they all respected the law, and Billy was an assassin.
The ranch house had many rooms, and that
night was a cold one. It was at the end of January, summer in Argentina but
winter in Texas. They turned on the gas heater. They were tired and went off
early to sleep. Each of the guests had his own room. The next day they had
breakfast in the kitchen and ate bacon and eggs, beans, and Mexican tortillas.
Frank said that the Mexicans had been living there a long time before the North
Americans arrived. “It is the land we stole from them,” he joked. He also noted
how Texans had always preferred flour tortillas to bread. After breakfast, he
invited them out to the shooting range, located along the side of a corral. He
showed them his collection of firearms, which included various revolvers from
the nineteenth century, and historical rifles, among them the famous
Winchester. Neither Facundo nor Eduardo had any experience with firearms, but
out of curiosity accepted the challenge to test their aim. Facundo hit the
target with a revolver, although it was far from the center of the board. Frank
applauded and told him he was a “natural” shooter. Facundo denied this and told
him that the revolver was not a weapon that suited well the personality of the
Argentines. They all look at the revolver as a weapon foreign to their customs.
The native weapon, the gaucho weapon, was the knife, known as the “facón.” He
explained it had a large blade that was often manufactured from the blade of a
sword or sabre. “Just like a kitchen knife,” said Frank with a laugh. “More or
less,” responded Facundo.
Every time that Helen’s gaze crossed
Facundo’s, he felt moved. She was not particularly beautiful, but he was
attracted to her. Her figure was curvy and smooth. Her husband was so much
older than she. He was a rough man, but he was rich. Eduardo had told him that
he had connections with very influential political figures.
After noon, they went out on horseback.
Facundo mounted his horse with much more confidence than the day before and was
able to ride much better. They went to the fields where the livestock grazed
and rode around the animals. It was then and there that Facundo began to feel
good. Eduardo, playfully, took a lazo that had been hanging on his saddle and
launched it at a steer, even when he knew he had no chance of catching the
animal. They both laughed. Helen followed them on a spotted mare. Her husband
had stayed at home. Some of the ranch hands sat on the fence of the corral, and
observed them from afar, laughing at their poor riding skills. Helen looked at
Facundo with interest. He thought that if things continued in this manner, he
was going to have problems.
After they returned from the ride that
second day, Facundo lay down to rest on a sofa in the living room. Later he
decided to take a walk in the countryside. Eduardo and Helen went with him.
Since the sun was still strong, they put on cowboy hats. The fields were dry.
There was hardly any grass.The land was
broken and parched. The only visible vegetation was a bush with a twisted trunk,
that they called “mesquite.” Facundo commented to Helen about how much that
landscape reminded him of the landscape from the province of Salta, that he was
familiar with. “And also the one in Patagonia, in the Santa Cruz zone”, added
Eduardo. The wind blew like the one in Patagonia. It was a semiarid climate.
“The Llano Estacado is a grand plateau,” he said. “Before arriving here I thought
that this zone was much like our pampa,” commented Facundo. “Nothing like it”
responded Eduardo. “The pampa is humid.” Helen mentioned that that year, in
June, she was going to visit Argentina. She wanted to get to know the pampa and
spend time in the countryside. One could not study and understand gaucho literature
without knowing the habitat where the gaucho lived – the pampa. Facundo agreed
and said that he would be happy to be her host in Rosario.
Suddenly Eduardo walked into a low lying
part of the field and was lost from sight. Helen approached Facundo and threw
herself at him. She pressed her pelvis against his and embraced him. Facundo
was frozen. He did not know what to do. Helen was a married woman, and they
were on her husband’s ranch. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him.
As she kissed him, she lowered her hand and rested it against his penis. She
noticed that it was erect and caressed it. Facundo blushed in surprise. They
heard the voice of their friend and separated. Eduardo joined them. He said
that that depression in the terrain was a result of an ancient landslide. The
zone had suffered earthquakes and seismic movements in the past. It was always exposed to strong winds. In 1970
a tornado had destroyed part of the city of Lubbock.
On the return to the ranch house they spoke
about Borges. He had visited the city and had given a talk at the university in
1968. He had written a poem dedicated to the state – “Texas”. Eduardo said that
Professor Oberhelman, now retired, had recounted how Borges had been impressed
with the prairie dogs. They were not real dogs, he explained. They were little
animals that looked more like rabbits and were common in the area. Helen said that
Eduardo was the best professor of gaucho literature in Texas. “He is a great
professor,” she added. Eduardo accepted her comment with false modesty. “There
is a North American professor who teaches gaucho literature at The University
of Texas at Austin,” he said, “but he is not very knowledgeable.” “He doesn’t
know anything!” Helen seconded. She recited in Spanish the poem “Texas” by
Borges, which she knew by memory. It was exciting to hear his verses in the
Texan pampa. “Here, too. Here as in the other / confine of the continent, the
infinite / countryside where the solitary scream dies…” The three returned to
the house. Frank waited for them in the living room. He said that the cook was
preparing “chile con carne”, a dish of Mexican origin, typical among the Texas
cowboys.The cook was a woman from an
indigenous family. She looked Mexican, but she did not speak Spanish. She was
from New Mexico, and come from the Pueblo Indian tribe that lived close to
Facundo was worried and didn’t know what to
do. He thought about telling Eduardo. The situation seemed more than
compromising. Helen was an interesting woman, but her home was not the best
place to start an affair. At dinner she sat him beside her. She placed a napkin
on his lap, and when her husband was not looking, she slided her hand under it
and caressed his penis. Facundo, who had always been shy, turned red. When they
all retired to their bedrooms for the night, he heard a knock at the door. It
was Helen. She entered the room and locked the door. She kissed him. She
lowered herself to his waist, unzipped his pants, took out his penis, and
sucked on it. They embraced each other with frenzied passion. Facundo had never
felt this way. In actuality, it had been a long time since he had had sex. They
undressed and went to the bed. He could not hold it and came too soon. She kept
caressing him so that they might continue. He said that he was already done.
She told him that no man came only once with her. “Twice?” he asked. “Five,”
she responded. He laughed and thought she was kidding. He asked about her
husband. She said that they had an open marriage and that she slept in her own
room. They made love frantically. Helen would mount him every time he wanted to
rest. She made him continue until he came again and again. He had never enjoyed
sex so much. He didn’t know he had so much energy, or that he was able to get
an erection so many times. He thought he had returned to his youth. At around
five in the morning she returned to her room.
The next day everyone got up late. It was a
Sunday. Helen asked them to stay one more day, and her husband agreed. Eduardo
consented, since he did not have class at the university until Tuesday. The
husband asked them to step into his office and spoke of his businesses and of
the history of the place. Helen translated for him. The ranch had been much
bigger in the past than it was at present. At one point they had 100,000 heads
of livestock. Every year they would take a great herd to Amarillo, on the
border with Oklahoma, and there they would load them on the cattle trains bound
for Kansas City or the slaughterhouses of Chicago. Those were other times. At
present, the cattle industry was not very profitable. It was better to plant cotton, or if one was
lucky enough, to find oil.
That night, Helen and Facundo repeated the
scene from the night before. She entered his room, and they made love
endlessly. She told him she didn’t love her husband and that she had fallen in
love with him. She asked him if he loved her. Facundo, surprised, told her that
he did. She told him that she wanted to leave her husband and go to live with
him in Rosario. In Argentina they would begin a new life. She also told him to
beware of her husband, he was a violent man, and had revolvers hidden throughout
the house. He was en excellent shooter, as he had seen earlier.
The next morning he woke up late and heard people
shouting. He got up and went to the kitchen. Frank was furious, and he was beating
Helen. “Whore!” he shouted. Helen cried and protected herself with her arms.
She begged him to stop. He was killing her, she said. They were the only ones
in the house. He threw her aside and rushed toward Facundo. They were about the
same age, but the American was taller and stronger. He tried to choke Facundo,
squeezing his neck with both hands. Helen grabbed a chair from the kitchen and slammed
it against her husband’s back. At that moment the lady cook arrived into the
house and went into the kitchen. She grabbed her head, frightened, when she saw
the scene before her. Frank got up painfully and approached one of the
countertops. He opened a drawer and took out a revolver. “Dog!” he screamed. “I am going to kill you!
Nobody fucks my wife but me!” He pointed at Facundo and fired. The bullet
imbedded itself in the wall, to one side of Facundo’s head. The cook ran out to
phone the police. Helen noticed that there was a kitchen knife on the counter
top. She pushed it with her hand over the side and let it fall on the floor. Her
husband didn’t notice. She pushed it with her foot to where Facundo was. He
bent down and threw himself on the floor, using the table as cover to protect
himself. Frank, from the other side, tried to take aim at him. He fired at the
table to see if he could get him, but he didn’t. Facundo grabbed the knife. He
pushed against the rectangular table, pressing Frank against the sofa. Frank
tried to get out from behind the table. Facundo aimed the tip of the knife at
his body and rushed at him. Caught by surprise, Frank could not dodge it. Facundo
buried the blade in Frank’s chest. He stepped back, horrified. Frank looked at
him through glassy eyes. Blood began to trickle from his lips. The revolver
hung from his right hand. He closed his eyes and collapsed in a pool of blood.
At that moment, Eduardo entered the room and approached him. “He’s dead” he said.
The knife had pierced his chest, surely severing the aorta. Helen had a panic
attack and began to scream. The cook hugged her, trying to calm her down. They
heard the siren from the arriving police car. The officers opened the door and
saw the tragic scene. They arrested everyone. Helen told the police that
Facundo had murdered her husband.
After being interrogated, Helen, the cook
and Eduardo were released. They were prohibited from speaking to one another,
because of the on-going investigation. Facundo was formally charged with the
murder of Frank Keller and detained in a Lubbock jail. The first thing that
Eduardo did was to speak with a lawyer who might be able to help his friend. He
felt responsible. He had invited him to Lubbock. He could not understand what had
really happened between him and Helen. His friend hadn’t told him anything. The
police asked him questions, but they did not give him any information. The
proceeding was confidential and secret. The lawyer told him that his legal costs
were high. Facundo didn’t have any resources. At the university law school,
Eduardo spoke with a well-known professor who recommended that he go to a
public defender. This was a criminal case, and the state public defenders were
generally good and decent. He could not pay the cost, all he had was his
teacher’s salary, and criminal lawyers charged a lot of money for their
The trial took place two months later. At
trial, Facundo repeated everything he had told the police.He recounted all that had taken place,
indicating that he had never sought to have a sexual relationship with Helen, and
that she had thrown herself onto him. He did not know what had happened between
her and her husband that had so infuriated him. He said Frank had tried to kill
him and that he had acted in self-defense. Helen had thrown the knife on the
floor and pushed it to him so that he could defend himself.
At trial, Helen, Eduardo, and the cook,
Lupita Horse, testified as witnesses. The cook was the first to testify and
said that she had not noticed anything out of the ordinary prior to the day of
the crime and that when she entered the kitchen, the man of the house and the
accused were fighting. Mr. Keller used the revolver to defend himself. She did
not think he was trying to kill Facundo. He had the opportunity but didn’t do
it. He fired to the side of his head. He simply wanted to frighten him. He was
a good shot. The accused attacked him with a knife. He forcefully buried it in
Eduardo testified that he had not seen
everything that had taken place. When he entered the kitchen, Frank was already
on the floor, mortally wounded. The prosecutor asked him if his friend knew how
to fight with a knife. Eduardo responded that he was an Argentine and that in
his country it was a well-established idea that the knife was a weapon to be
used in combat. He did not believe that Facundo would ever before have used a
knife in a fight. He indicated that his friend hadn’t told him anything about a
possible sexual relationship with Helen.
Helen testified that Facundo had tried to
seduce her from the start. He tricked her into coming into his bedroom and
forced himself upon her. He covered her mouth so that she wouldn’t scream. Then
he told her that if she did not have sex with him, his friend would never
approve her dissertation on gaucho literature. He raped her repeatedly. He
forced her to return the following night. The next day, she could no longer
stand it, so she told her husband everything. He reacted violently and slapped
her. Then he attacked their guest. She did not push the knife to him on purpose.
It fell on the floor by accident. It was on the counter. As she tried to reach
for it, she pushed it forward by accident with her foot. Facundo took it. She
was horrified when she saw how violent Facundo was. Her husband was not a
violent man, and he was excellent with a gun. They had a good relationship.
They loved each other. He was infuriated when he found out that she had had sex
with another man. He tried to punish the guilty and was murdered for it.
Facundo took the stand. He said that Helen
lied, and that, in the testimony that he had given the police immediately after
he was arrested, he had indicated how she had seduced him and how she tricked him
into letting her into his bedroom. How during dinner she had put her hand under
his napkin and had caressed his penis. He had no idea what her intentions were.
What she had just said was a lie. He was innocent and had acted in
self-defense. They were trying to kill him, and he had simply tried to save his
The prosecutor asked for the death penalty
for murder, aggravated by rape. The public defender asked for clemency.He said that the sexual relationship he had
had with the wife of the deceased, as he testified to the police, had been
consensual. The deceased had fired first. Facundo had not intended to kill him
with the knife.
The judge did not concede to the death
penalty. He said the deceased initiated the hostility and fired a weapon
against the accused. It was possible that the accused had forced himself on the
wife of the deceased and had possibly raped her, but she had returned the
following night, and from the start she had not said anything about the
situation to her husband. The accused could have fled the kitchen, but instead
of doing this, he opted to confront the deceased and attacked him. He
understood the deadly force of the weapon in his hand, and he directed it toward
his victim’s heart. It was murder in the first degree. It had taken place in
the middle of a fight. There had been no previous intention to murder the
victim. He declared him guilty and sentenced him to twenty-five years in
prison. The first twelve had to be completed in their entirety, and if he
demonstrated good behavior, he might be considered for parole at that time.
Facundo gave in and began to cry. They took
him to a detention center near Lubbock to carry out his sentence. It was a
modern prison. Eduardo went to visit him. He told him that his situation was
terrible, but that he could have been given the death penalty. Frank Keller was
a rich man, and the laws in Texas were very severe. Facundo insisted that he
was innocent and that it had all been a terrible mistake. Unfortunately,
Eduardo was not able to witness everything that took place because he arrived
at the last minute. Thus he could not testify on his behalf. He asked Facundo
why he had not told him what was happening with Helen. Facundo said that he had
thought about it, but that he could not make up his mind. Helen lied. She was
the one who initiated the sexual relationship. She was crazy. He could not
understand how or why she had told all that happened with him to her husband.
Eduardo answered that women are unpredictable, but that he had played with fire
when he had sex with her in her own home. He knew that her husband kept weapons
in the house. If Facundo had told him what was happening with Helen, he would
have talked with her. She trusted him. Facundo asked his friend to bring him
books to read.He was depressed and full
Eduardo saw Helen once more. She went to
visit him at his office at the university. She told him she was not going to
continue with her dissertation. What happened had brought her down. She assured
him that she had told the truth. It was Facundo who had betrayed her. He was a
seducer and a liar. She explained how she, burdened by her own guilt, had told
her husband everything. She had no idea he was going to react that way. She
told him she had made love to him against her will. While they had sex, he
bragged about being a gaucho and having a big dick , and told her that she was
his woman. He had promised her that he would take her with him to Argentina. God
had punished him. Now he was a gaucho in a Lubbock prison. He had misunderstood
the cowboys. He had arrived there, wanting to see the tomb of a bandit, of a
criminal - Billy the Kid. It is dangerous to glorify crime. It can be a
contagious thing. Helen said good-bye and left his office. Eduardo never saw
her again. He later found out that she lived on her ranch with a Mexican lover
who was younger than she. She had several cars and liked to be seen with her
lover around the city. She bought herself a small plane, and they would often fly
to shoot films from the air. They filmed cattle stampedes and the sunsets
typical for that part of Texas.
Eduardo would regularly visit his friend in
prison. He took books to him. They did not allow Facundo to use a computer. The
information that entered into prison was well guarded and controlled. But there
was no problem with books. Facundo was a great reader. He said that after so
many years, he finally had the opportunity to study. In Rosario, with the
number of classes that he taught, he had little time to read the things that he
liked. Eduardo suggested that he begin to research a literary topic of his
choice to write a book. That way he could kill time. Facundo liked the idea. He
told him he wanted to study the novels of Eduardo Gutiérrez and write about
him. He had been an author who had been poorly treated by his peers and ignored
by the critics. He did not believe Helen could write a good dissertation about
Gutiérrez. Eduardo told him that she had left her studies. Facundo began to do research
on Juan Moreira and Hormiga Negra. Little by little he adapted to his new life. He spent all his days
studying and writing. This way time went by quickly.Soon he would see the passing of the months,
and then years, and one day, perhaps, he might go free.
Translated into English by Rolando J. Díaz
From Alberto Julián Pérez. Cuentos argentinos. Ediciones Riseñor. Lubbock, TX 2015. 33 - 46