About cómo Pilón, tentado by greed for una posición, betrays la hospitalidad de Danny.
The lawyer left them at the door of the second casa, jumped into his Ford and rattled down the hill hacia Monterrey.
Danny y Pilón stood before the peeling fence y contemplaron con admiración la propriedad, a low house with old plaster and windows without shutters nor cortinas. But en el porche there was a beautiful climbing rose and wild geranios grew among the bushes in the front garden.
- Esta es la best of the two – said Pilón-. Es más grande than the other one.
Danny took out the master key. He walked on tiptoes across the rickety porche and opened la puerta. La sala principal was just as the old man who had lived there had left it. El calendario rosa de 1906; the silk flag hung on the wall; Fighting Bob Evans looked down from the bridge of a battleship; a bunch of rosas de papel nailed up with drawing pins; the strings of pimientos and garlics covered in dust; the oven; the dented rocking chairs.
Pilón looked in from la puerta.
- Tres habitaciones – dijo breathlessly – and a bed and an oven. We’re going to be happy here, Danny.
Danny explored the house cautelosamente. He had a bad memory of the old man. Pilón fluttered in front of him y entró en the kitchen.
- ¡A sink with a tap! – exclamó. He turned la llave-. There is no agua, Danny, you should ask the compañía to put it on for you.
They stopped smiling. Pilón notó que la responsabilidad de ser propietario se instalaba on the face of Danny. Never again would that face be libre from every type of preocupación. Never again would Danny break windows, now that he had ventanas of his own to break. Pilón was right: He had been elevado above his amigos. His shoulders seemed to have straightened, as if to afrontar la complejidad of life. Danny even gave a little whimper of pain in the face of abandonar for ever his antigua y simple existencia.
- Pilón – he said sadly-, I wish it was yours and I could ask to come to live with you.
While Danny was going to Monterrey to get el agua put on, Pilón went into the overgrown back yard. There were bushes frutales, naked and blackened with time, with knotty and broken branches a causa del abandono. There were a few chicken coops in the undergrowth, and a pile of rusty barrel hoops, un montón de ash and a soaked mattress. Pilón looked over the fence at the chicken coop of la señora Morales and, after considerarlo un momento, made a few small holes for las gallinas. “They will like to make nests en los bushes”, he thought, generously. Consideró la posibilidad de fabricar a trap in case the cockerels came through to molestar las gallinas on their nests. “We will be very happy”, he thought again.
Danny came back indignado de Monterrey.
- La compañía demands un depósito – dijo.
- ¿Un depósito?
- Sí. They ask for tres dólares before they put on el agua.
- Tres dólares – dijo Pilón severamente -are three gallons of wine. And when el vino is finished we can ask la señora Morales, the next door neighbour to lend us a bucket of agua.
- But if we don’t have tres dólares para vino.
- I know – dijo Pilón-. Maybe we can ask to borrow un poco de vino a la señora Morales.
The afternoon pasó.
- Mañana we will move in – anunció Danny-. Mañana we will clean and scrub. y tú, Pilón, cortarás the undergrowth and you will throw the rubbish out.
- ¿The undergrowth? – shouted Pilón horrorizado-. Not that undergrowth.- Y explicó su teoría about the chickens of la señora Morales.
Inmediatamente, Danny was in agreement.
- Amigo – dijo-, I am very contento that you have come to live conmigo. Now, while I collect firewood, tú debes get something to eat.
Pilón, recordando su brandy, lo consideró injusto. “He is attacking mi libertad. Soon I will be un esclavo por culpa de esta casa”. But he went out to look for food.
Two blocks down, near to the límite of the pine wood, he came across a red hen scratching en el camino. It had got to that age adolescente when its voice was breaking and the feet, neck and chest were featherless. Maybe because he had been thinking with love of las gallinas de la señora Morales, the little chick won la simpatía de Pilón. He approached slowly through the dark pines while the chick ran in front of him.
Pilón reflexionaba: “Poor naked chicken. How cold the dawns must be, when the dew falls and the freezing wind of dawn blows. The good God sometimes does not behave well to his smallest criaturas”. And he thought: “And here you are playing en la carretera, pollito. Some day un automóvil will run you over, and if it kills you, that will be the best thing that could happen to you. It might just break one of your piernas or a wing and you will spend el resto de tu vida dragging it miserablemente. La vida is too hard for you, pobre little bird”.
Avanzó cautelosamente. From time to time the chicken tried to scurry away but it always ran into Pilón in its path. Finalmente, it went into the pine forest with Pilón behind it.
Para la gloria de su soul, it must be said that no scream or complaint came from the beak of that pollo. The pollo that Pilón había profetizado una vida de suframientos died in peace, or at least en silencio. And that is no small tributo a la técnica de Pilón.
Diez minutos later, he came out of the wood and headed for la casa de Danny. The pollito, convenientemente desmembrado, was distribuido about his pockets. If Pilón had una norma de conducta más importante that any other, it was this: never, under any circunstancia, take home feathers, head or feet, as without them resulta imposible identificar un pollo.
That night they lit un fuego in the old stove with pine-cones. The flames roared en la chimenea. Danny y Pilón, full tummys, warm and happy, sat in the rocking chairs y se columpiaron gently forward and back. In the supper they had usado a candle but now solo el resplandor de la stove disipaba the darkness in the room. To make el momento perfecto, the rain started to resonar on the roof. There was only a small leak, and that was in a corner where no-one would go to sentarse.
- It is good this – dijo Pilón-. Remember las noches that we have slept in the open. This is the life.
- Sí, and it is strange – dijo Danny-. For years I never had una casa. Ahora tengo dos. I can’t sleep en dos casas.
Pilón odiaba the waste.
- That has had me preocupado. ¿Why not rent out la otra casa? – sugirió.
The feet of Danny hit the piso hard.
- ¡Pilón! – gritó. ¡Why didn’t I think of it antes! – La idea started to grow – ¿But who la alquilará, Pilón?
- I will rent it – dijo Pilón-. Te pagaré una renta de diez dólares al mes.
- Fifteen – insistió Danny-. Es una buena casa. It is worth quince.
Pilón aceptó grumbling. But he would have aceptado más because he had seen how se eleva un hombre who lives in his own house and Pilón ansiaba experimentarlo.
- Está acordado, then – concluyó Danny-. You will rent mi casa. Oh, seré a good landlord, Pilón. No te molestaré.
Pilón, excepto en la época of the army, had never had quince dólares in his life. But, he thought, there is a month para pagar la renta and who can say lo que ocurrirá en un mes.
They rocked happily by the fuego. After una pausa, Danny went outside for un momento and came back with some apples.
- The rain would have spoilt them – he apologised.
Pilón, not to be outdone, got up and lit la vela. He went into the bedroom and came back a little later with a basin, a jug, two crystal vases and a bunch of ostrich feathers.
- No es bueno to have so many things that can get broken – dijo-. Then they get broken and you feel sad. Es mucho mejor never to have had them.
He pulled las rosas de papel off the wall.
- A little gift para la señora Torrelli – explicó as he went out of the door.
He didn’t take long to come back, empapado by the rain but with gesto triunfante, because he had a gallon of wine … una garrafa de vino in his hand.
Later they argued bitterly, but no-one worried about who had won as they were worn out con la excitación del día. El vino les produjo somnolencia and they lay down to sleep on the floor. El fuego fue extinguiéndose, the stove grew cold. The candle burned down and went out in its own wax, with little blue destellos de protesta. La casa was dark, silenciosa y en paz.