Because of that, of the three of them who survived to grow up, Antonio was the one who hated his father the most. He suffered, but in the midst of his suffering he took satisfaction in frustrating the expectations don Antonio had forced on him.
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Then he was shot to death in a bar brawl. It was then, immediately after the burial, that the two old folks stopped talking to each other. His father had driven him to vices with his punishments and hardness; his mother had spoiled him rotten with so much pampering. Why worry about someone you no longer care about? As soon as Bibiana began to work for him, don Antonio had given her the eye. Even though at first, she had wanted to flirt with Ignacio. But Ignacio disliked her. It repulsed him to watch her spit. Besides her odor, the odor of her body… Ignacio felt like it lingered, clinging to his nostrils.
At night he woke suddenly, throwing aside sheets soaked with sweat, and felt like Bibiana was there, spying on him, lying in wait in the darkness, naked and oozing lust.
Vicente Blasco Ibáñez
She lifted her arms as if they were wings and released the odor of her body, the odor Ignacio carried with him like an infection. And perhaps, yes, his father was a dirty old man. He gave her authority. Bibiana made the best sales, attracted clients. The furniture store became those two: don Antonio and Bibiana. Ignacio obeyed. He got up to close the door and on the way turned on the outside passage light.
From there he could see the obstinate figure of his father. Why, whenever he thought of her, did he see her spitting? It was true. What a relief not to have to lie.
It was all the same to his father, but to him it was disgusting. They began to make him feel like he was in the way. So finally, one afternoon, Ignacio decided to leave them alone. He saw it in his eyes, in the way he passed by Ignacio, practically pushing him, without saying excuse me. Ignacio began to leave them alone more and more often. He walked through the city, that horrible city. He climbed the steep streets, heavy with heat.
Not a single tree along the road, not a single bench to sit down on. Almost no one walked the sidewalks. Suddenly a door opened to a long patio, full of dark sweaty people: shirtless men holding cans of beer, women who danced and laughed around tubs full of wet clothing, children who urinated in any corner, among panting dogs. But he only saw the city spreading from the little valley to climb the nearby hills with its factories and miserable houses.
Only downtown was dabbed with notable bits of color: the orange towers of the church, the banana trees and jacarandas that tried to give the hotels a touch of the exotic, the fruit trees that still grew in the orchards of some older houses. And the movie theatre: a tall building like a giant shoebox painted yellow.
There, one afternoon when things between Bibiana and the old man seemed certain and don Antonio had realized that Ignacio knew everything, he saw her.
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He saw Bibiana. With a boy her age. They were leaning against a wooden arch covered with withered flowers, leftover from the last religious fiesta. The smelly gusts of wind brought dust that muffled everything and was everywhere like a plague from God, but in spite of that, the two young people looked as fresh and free as if they had been on a beach or in a meadow or in some equally beautiful place and not that atrocious city.
It was too late for Ignacio to take another street. She raked him with a look so intense it made her companion turn also.
She only wet her lips a second before clinging to the boy who had her wedged in that corner. An evil smile sketched across her face, a smile of defiance, of triumph. A gust of wind came. They went down the passage loud with the noise of insects. Her door opened, creaking. While he waited for her to get a blanket from the wardrobe, Ignacio looked at the bureau covered with family portraits, including one of his youngest brother, the fourth child, who had died soon after he was born; the recliner nearby, the rosary hanging on the headboard of the bed.
He thought again about his brother Antonio. Perhaps he would have been satisfied to see his father like this. To see him at last with his head hanging, sucking his balls, alone. Yes, if Antonio could see them from whereever he was, if his soul wandered around the house, he would be satisfied. He would be able to rest in peace. Ignacio kissed her crossed fingers and closed the door after him. He went to the patio with the blanket.
He grabbed it forcefully, as if Ignacio were a child again and he could hurt him and make him cry. He looked at Ignacio with eyes brimming with bitterness and spit on the ground. The spittle of his rancor was lost in the darkness of the night. Then he got to his feet and walked toward his bedroom on the other side of the house.
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Los domingos iba al cine. Las canas de sus sienes brillaban con la luz de la tarde, rojizas. Era de su boda. Y por eso ella no los visitaba. Siempre quiso mucho a su padre. Don Antonio no le dijo nada. Cerraba pasadas las ocho de la noche y se iba caminando a su casa. No se quejaba. Se encerraba solo.
La envidiaba. De mal modo. Su padre no le hizo caso. Entonces ella, igual de desafiante, le dijo para terminar:. Pero a Antonio se le fue a golpes por no cuidar bien a su hermana. Y a su madre. Hasta que lo mataron a balazos en una cantina. En silencio, con un rencor sordo e infinito, se culpaban uno al otro por la muerte de Antonio. Le dio poder.
Era verdad. Empezaron a hacerlo sentir que estorbaba. Se iba a caminar por la ciudad, esa ciudad tan horrible. Casi nadie andaba por las banquetas. Y el cine: un edificio alto como una gran caja de zapatos pintada de amarillo. Vio a Bibiana. Con un muchacho de su edad. Era demasiado tarde para que Ignacio tomara otro camino. Esa vez no lo hizo. Vino el viento, otra vez. Salieron al corredor lleno de ruidos de insectos.
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