About how el veneno de la propiedad intoxicó a Pilón, causing el demonio to possess him for a while.
The next day, Pilón moved to la otra casa. It was the same as la casa de Danny, only a bit smaller. It had its rosal en el porche, its patio with undergrowth, its old and estériles trees frutales, sus geranios rojos … and the chicken coop de la señora Soto on the other side of the fence.
Danny se convirtió en un hombre importante, having a house to rent out, and Pilón ascendió en la escala socil by renting una casa.
Resulta imposible to say if Danny thought he would be able to collect la renta and if Pilón thought he would pagarla. If they had, both would have been disappointed. Danny nunca forced el pago y Pilón made no attempt to give it to him.
Los dos amigos saw each other often. Sometimes Pilón came round con una jarra de vino o una pieza de meat and Danny often returned la visita. And if Danny seemed both worried and carefree, Pilón didn’t care and they spent la noche partying. El pobre Pilón would have pagado the money if he had had it, but he would never have had it. Pilón era un hombre honrado. Le preocupaba sometimes to think of the goodness of Danny and of his own poverty.
Un día he got un dólar, de una manera so amazing that he tried to forget de inmediato so that el recuerdo didn’t send him mad. Un hombre, en frente del Hotel San Carlos, put el dólar in his hands saying:
- Run and bring cuatro botellas de ginger-ale. En el hotel there are none left.
“Things like these are almost miraculous”, pensó Pilón. I should take them as they come, without worrying or trying to comprenderlas. He took el dólar and he headed for the carretera to give it to Danny, but on el trayecto he bought una garrafa de vino and with it he persuaded 2 fat chicas to go home with him.
Danny, wandering about the area, heard the noise and alegremente joined la fiesta. Pilón embraced him and put everything at his disposición. And later, cuando Danny had dismissed una de las chicas and half of the vino, a great fight broke out. Danny lost a tooth and Pilón acabó con la torn shirt. Las chicas wouldn’t stop screaming and kicking whichever man was on the floor. Finalmente, Danny managed to get up and head butt one of las chicas en el estómago, who went out of la puerta croaking like a toad. La otra chica robó 2 kitchen pans and went the same way as the other girl.
For a while, Danny y Pilón se lamentaron por the treachery of women.
- You don’t know what those harlots are like, dijo Danny wisely.
- I do know, dijo Pilón.
- No, no lo sabes.
- Sí que lo sé.
There was another fight but it wasn’t very good.
After that, Pilón felt better respecto al asunto de la renta impagada. Hadn’t he been hospitalario with his house?
A few months went by. Pilón started to preocuparse por la renta again. And as el tiempo pasaba, la preocupación became intolerable. Finalmente, desesperado, he worked un día entero cleaning calamares for Chin Kee and earned dos dólares. In the evening, he tied a red scarf around his neck, put on the old sombrero of his father and he started the walk up to Danny to put his dos dólares a cuenta.
But on the way compró dos garrafas de vino. “This is better,” pensó. “If I give him money I won’t manage to expresar el cariño that I feel for him. But a present is something else. And I will say that the dos garrafas han costado cinco dólares.” That was una estupidez, y Pilón knew it, but decidió to indulge himself. Nobody en Monterrey knew better than Danny el precio del vino.
Pilón walked happily, with a decided mind and the nose apuntando directamente a la casa de Danny. His feet didn’t move too rápido, but with a sure step en la dirección correcta. Under each arm he carried a paper bag, and in each one was una garrafa de vino.
In was a sunset de color púrpura, that sweet momento en que el día ha terminado and the night of pleasure y conversación had not yet started. The pines were outlined, very dark against the sky and all the objetos of the earth appeared as shadows; but the sky had a tonalidad brillante tan melancólica as a memory. The seagulls flew lazily to their nests en las rocas after their daily visita to the fishing canneries de Monterrey.
Pilón was a lover of beauty and el misticismo. He raised his face to heaven and his soul raised him up to the colours of the sunset. This Pilón imperfecto, who cheated and got into fights, who drank y blasfemaba, slowed his pace as he ascendía towards las alturas where the seagulls gently beat el aire de la noche. Ese Pilón was beautiful and his soul was libre de egoísmo y lust. It would be good to know his thoughts.
“Our father is in the night,” pensaba. “These birds fly across the forehead of our father. Beloved birds, queridos gaviotas, how I love you. Your slow wings touch my heart like the hand of a love indulgente strokes the full belly of a sleeping dog. like the hand of Cristo caresses the heads of small children. Beloved birds,” he thought, “fly to Our Lady and take her my open heart”. And then he said the most loving words he knew: “Ave María, llena eres de gracia…”.
The feet of bad Pilón had stopped. En realidad, the bad Pilón had ceased to existir por unos momentos. (Listen to this, ángel que registras nuestros actos). There wasn’t, there had never been, a soul más pura que la de Pilón in those momentos. At that moment the evil bulldog de Gálvez approached a las indefensas legs de Pilón, alone in la moche. Y el bulldog de Gálvez gave them a sniff and went back where he had come from without biting those piernas.
A soul purificada y salvada is a soul doblemente expuesta, as all the other things of the world conspiran contra a soul like that. “Even the straw around my knees”, says Saint Agustín, “screams to distract me from my prayer”.
El alma de Pilón had not been tested. He remembered that la señora Pastrano sometimes usaba seagulls to make tamales and ese recuerdo made him hungry y el apetito made his soul fall from the sky. Pilón, convertido once more into a naughty mix de santo y demonio. The evil bulldog de Gálvez came back growling and started to give chase, regretting having allowed to escape such perfect prey as the legs of Pilón.
Pilón folded his arms, para aliviar un poco the weight de las botellas.
It is a known fact that un alma capaz de la mayor nobleza is also capable of sinking to the deepest depths. ¿Is there anyone as sinful as a priest renegado? ¿More lustful than una virgen who just stopped being one?
Pilón, recién arrived in Heaven, turned out, although he didn’t know it, singularmente sensitive to any icy breeze, to any influencia maligna que flotara around him en la noche. It is true that his feet still se movían en dirección a la casa de Danny but there was no longer any intención o convicción en ellos. They looked for the slightest señal to turn around. Now Pilón was thinking of la estupenda drunkeness he could achieve con dos garrafas de vino and, what is more, in all the tiempo that he could spend being drunk.
Night had fallen completamente. The dusty carretera was no longer visible, nor were the ditches at either side. There is no need to draw any conclusión moral from the fact that at ese momento, when los impulsos de Pilón were swinging tan precariamente como a feather between la generosidad y el esoísmo, en ese preciso momento, Pablo Sánchez called out from the ditch urgently desiring un cigarillo y un vaso de vino.
Ah, the prayers of millones de personas, how they fight each other en su camino towards the throne of God.
Pablo heard first steps, then he saw una figura blurry y al fin reconoció a Pilón.
- ¡Hey, amigo! – he called entusiásticamente-. ¿What is that you are carrying ahí?
Pilón stopped short and looked towards the ditch.
- I thought you were in prison – dijo con severidad-. Something relacionado with a goose.
- And I was, Pilón – respondió Pablo sarcastically-. But I wasn’t well recibido there. El juez said that la sentencia wasn’t doing me any favours y la policía said that I ate more than tres hombres juntos. So – concluyó with pride – I am out on my word.
Pilón estaba salvado de su egoísmo. It is true that he didn’t take el vino a casa de Danny, but al instante invitó a Pablo to share it in the rented house. If 2 paths towards la generosidad start out from the same crossroad of life, ¿who is capaz de juzgar which is better?
Pilón y Pablo entraron en la casita cheerfully. Pilón lit a candle and got out 2 jars for vasos.
- ¡Salud! – dijo Pablo.
- ¡Salud! – dijo Pilón.
And in a moment, “¡Salud!”, repitió Pablo.
- ¡Mud in your eye! – dijo Pablo.
2 gallons are a buena cantidad de vino, incluso para dos paisanos. Espiritualmente, the jugs may be graduated así: justo under the shoulder de la primera botella, conversación seria and concentrated. Cuatro centímetros más abajo, sad and sweet nostalgias. Cinco centímetros más, memories of old happy loves. Dos centímetros, recuerdos de old and bitter loves. Bottom of the first jug, una vaga sadness general. Shoulder of la segunda botella, black unholy despondency. Dos fingers más abajo, a song about death or longing. A thumb, every other song that each one knows. Las graduaciones stop there porque the trail splits and there is no longer any certeza. From este punto anything can ocurrir.
But let us return to la primera marca, que corresponde a la conversación seria, porque it was en ese punto when Pilón made his coup.
- Pablo – dijo, ¿do you ever get tired of sleeping in ditches, wet and homeless, solo y sin amigos?
- No- dijo Pablo.
Pilón sweetened his voz persuasivamente.
- That is what I thought, amigo mío, when I was a dirty dog vagabundo. I was contento too because I did not know how sweet que resultan una casa and a roof y un jardín. Ah, Pablo, this is really living.
- It is pretty nice – Pablo agreed.
- Look, Pablo, how you you like to rent parte de la casa? Never again would you have to lie on the cold ground. Never more the cold sand under the wharf with crabs getting into your shoes. ¿How would you like to vivir aquí conmigo?
- Claro – dijo Pablo.
- Look, ¡pagarías sólo quince dólares a month! And you could use the whole casa execpto mi cama, y todo el jardín. ¡Think of it, Pablo! And if someone writes you una carta, he would have somewhere to send it to you.
- Claro – dijo Pablo-. Es fenomenal.
Pilón respiró aliviado. He hadn’t realised how much the debt to Danny was weighing on his shoulders. The fact that he knew very well that Pablo would never pay ninguna renta did not darken su triunfo. If Danny ever asked for el dinero, Pilón could say: “I will pay when Pablo me pague”.
They moved onto the next grado y Pilón rememoró how happy he had been when he was a little boy.
- Nothing worried me, Pablo. I did not know sin. I was very feliz.
- We have never been felices like that since – convino Pablo tristemente.