A Father's Dream

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Of which a kind drug dealer and a desperate father meet.

Submitted: December 08, 2013

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Submitted: December 08, 2013

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A Father’s Dream

The animal flesh was shredded by the meat cutter. It made loud riotous noises, like an old water faucet trying to puke out the first drops of water.

Thud, thud, thud, thud.

Silence.

Thud, Thud.

Erratic chopping sounds joined the background noise; the distant tune of an old Mexican song slipped into the confined space that made up the meat shop. Inside, the meat was stored in refrigerators easily seen by customers, laid out in their chambers, covered by thick glasses. The floor was made out of black tile. Every now and then there was the sudden fly passing by, the air impregnated with the odor of blood.  Made out of bricks with a white paint coat, the shop had a wooden sign on top reading Carnicería Don Agustín with thick black letters, and metal sheets as eyelids for the glass windows as indication that the market was closed for the given moment. The outside view was plain; how most shops and supermarkets were back in the year 2000 when the money was scarce in Iztapalapa, a town in the outskirts of Mexico City.

The owner of the shop was Marcos Martínez, a twenty-eight year old man who lived in a small house adjacent to the market, with his wife Guadalupe who had barely turned nineteen, and their eleven-month-old baby Susana. Marcos ran the meat shop for a living. Guadalupe was a house wife. They barely made their ends meet, but they were happy and comfortable, or so it seemed.

A year ago, when Guadalupe was thirty-eight weeks pregnant with Susana, Marcos used to be an elementary school teacher working in the town.  Eventually there was not enough money to pay the teachers and maintain the facility, leaving no choice but to close it down, with all the teachers going out of work. Given this, he needed money from another source.

Marcos headed to the capital for better prospects, using the savings he had left, hoping it could be an investment for a bigger reward. After a day’s worth of stepping into elementary schools and asking managers if they were hiring, of reading newspaper magazines left in coffee shop tables, he found out his wallet was no longer on the left pocket of his denim jeans and gave up. Returned home to his wife with two pesos and fifty cents. The following two weeks he tried out in the streets alternating between selling tortillas, cleaning shoes, and houses.

Not long after, Guadalupe gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. But their financial situation was not getting any better. Marcos was desperate. His family no longer had food and they were hungry. It would not be long before they ran out of the beans he had bought last and the much needed baby formula. Guadalupe was too skinny to produce any milk; something had to be done soon. One night he found Guadalupe crying on their bed, after Marcos had returned from swiping a patio.

“What’s wrong, Gualadalupe?” he asked quietly, but the alarm in his voice unhidden.

He suspected it; but didn’t want to say it out loud. It was November then, the cold got deep into their bones as their wooden one bedroom home, put together by Marcos himself, left small ruptures were the angry wind got through. It was a cold day that day in particular, and he had not been on the house since he left early in the morning to look out for a way to make some pesos.

Guadalupe raised her head, only to cry louder, and looked at Marcos with a helpless expression. “Susana…she’s been very sick since this morning that you left…” she said in tears, her eyes enormous pools of anguish and pain.

“But she was fine yesterday” Marcos said, eyeing the baby’s bed, as he swallowed an almost choking knot on his throat.

He had heard the stories.

When winter came, babies had suffered pneumonia and died.  Families had trouble keeping their babies warm, and could not afford going to the specialized clinics and hospitals on the capital and much less the expensively prescribed medicines. This couldn’t be happening to his baby. He had to do something, soon, or his baby would be one more among the stories told.

Guadalupe wanted to work. “I will go to the capital. I can find something; I am a woman after all. Women get work easily. I will find something, save money, and come back.” She had proposed that night after the profound sobs. He had objected. “We need to do something, or she will die”. Those were the words that split Marco’s heart in half.  But he didn’t want her to go alone, knowing very well the things that could happen to her if she did.  

“I will be going tomorrow in the afternoon, after feeding the baby. There is one more can of baby formula. Leave her with a neighbor to see what you can find to buy more. I promise I will be back soon...I just don’t want to see her like this…” she said as she hid her face in her palms.

Early in the morning of the next day, after begging the by passers on his knees, Marcos found himself looking up a forty-five year old man with a fine cut beard, five feet eight, hazel eyes, and through the stretch of a smile, a gold tooth. Marcos had Guadalupe agree to stay home one more day as long as he found something that morning.

The old man looked down on Marcos, then ordered him to get up. He said, “You must look at people face to face when you want to get something from them.” After all, things in life are never free, he added. The man carried a gold watch, a sombrero, leather belt, leather boots. On his left hand, a leash that connected it to the neck of a small black dog with resounding eyes of the same color.

 A new mustang passed by and stopped next to him, “Let’s go.”

It smelled like pine trees and another scent he could not identify; a plant-like scent.  From the back on the car Marcos could hear the noise of a wrapper before a cigarette had been lit and smoke filling the chamber of the car. The dog’s heavy sight was on him the whole ride, even more when Marcos took a glance at the stacked zip log bags with a white powder within them, right under the back passenger’s seat.

“So, what brings you here?” said an orotund voice from the front seat coming from the old man with the gold tooth. The driver never uttered a word. It was just as if he was not there. Marcos gazed at the green pine hanging from the rearview mirror. The car on the whole was sparkling clean; not a single particle of debris could be seen. Marcos thought about the luxury of sitting on a car like that; he marveled at how wonderful it must be to live like that man.

Marcos explained that his baby girl was sick, and that she needed to be taken to the doctor in the capital, but he had no money. Don Agustín, as he said his name was, said he could help him as long as he did something for him in return.

“Anything,” Marcos said without thinking twice.

“Alright, your little girl will see a doctor soon.”

Four months later, Marcos Martinez had opened a meat shop, having regular clientele from those who could afford the luxury, and he was getting enough money to pay for the medicine of his little girl. His wife was able to take care of Susana, who was then just past four months of age, without any difficulty. Marcos was able to buy food for the family regularly and they never suffered any hunger anymore. They were even able to rebuild their house with stronger material for the winters to come. Guadalupe was particularly very thankful to Don Agustín for having done such a gracious act for them in such circumstance. She would regularly thank him when his car passed by their house, would often send him homemade food through the neighbor’s kid, and was glad to have him and his companion black dog visit the meat shop so often. Marcos was pleased that Guadalupe liked the man.

Because in reality, he knew that she had no other option.  

He knew that, the very second Guadalupe greeted Don Agustín and shook his hand with a welcoming smile into the shop, having a man tied to a chair with his limbs being tortured for two days straight on the basement of that very same meat shop was not an option she could choose from if she knew about it. He knew that she could not choose between her happiness, her baby, her family, and the silent screams coming from a body whose teeth were being pulled out one by one without anesthetics by a man that worked for the person she was so innocently smiling at. He knew that making a choice between having a place made of sin and a life with a promise for themselves was a difficult decision.

And that’s why he was not to put her in the position.

Hola, Don Agustín! How have you been?” Guadalupe greeted the forty-five year old man into the shop one day. “Coming to get meat?”

“I have been great. No, no, I am fine, thank you. Now, as I see that your husband has not told you that you cannot wander inside the shop, I will. I opened up this place for you two as long as it was Marcos who took care of it. Women belong in the house, taking care of the kids. ” the old man said, unpleased that Marcos had not followed on his instruction.

“Don Agustín, I don’t want problems, but I don’t see why I cannot be here when the food has been made and the baby has been put to sleep. I just ask of you to be a little more understanding, I am sure you are a great ma-”

“I don’t want women here. That’s that.” Don Agustín cut in and walked his way to the back of the store.

Later that night, when Susana was sleeping and the couple lay quietly on the bed, Guadalupe told his husband what had happened earlier that day. Marcos got upset, asking her why she had been there in the first place.

“I told you. Mierda. If I say don’t do in there, you don’t! What part of that don’t you understand? I got this for you. Don’t fuck it up. Just leave things as they are,” Marcos said in frustration, the last thing he wanted was to get in trouble and lose the shop. Marcos knew Agustín: he was a radical man, of short temper, and always got what he wanted. He could make a man successful if he wanted, or put him in misery if it was his wish. That man was made out of money. He was friends with the police! If a man was smart, he would want to be on Agustín’s list of friends. Marcos knew this, because he had seen what he could do. He witnessed it every time-the men brought down his basement. He could do nothing but act like it was normal; a duty he was okay with. What else could he do?

“I don’t like it. Marcos, if he is making this request, it’s really not out of the kindness of his heart. Please don’t let him control you like this,”

It’s too late, Marcos thought.

Months followed, and Guadalupe got used to the idea that she was not allowed to go into the meat shop. If she ever entered it, it was to sweep and mop the floors. But as troubled as she felt about it, as if there was something very wrong about it, she let go of her troubled mind and decided that it was okay; that it was just a thing about men not liking women getting their head involved into their business.

One night, when Marcos went to sleep early with Susana, she decided to open the shop to clean up. She was used to do it in the mornings when his husband was present, right before opening up. This time, she wanted to wake up late the following morning and just get rid of the responsibility that same night before joining the family to sleep. She took the broom and mop and went inside. She began with the entrance, and progressed until she got to the back room. She had never been there, there had been no need. Marcos liked to take care of the cleaning there. But Guadalupe thought she could take that chore off from his husband. She had just started to sweep again after moving some boxes around when she heard a disembodied voice. She startled and looked back, but there was no one there.

Alarmed, she continued sweeping, but dropped the broom when she heard more human sounds, moans. Guadalupe knew they could not be the neighbors’ noises; the other houses were far apart from her own. Both Marcos and Susana were sleeping. She looked around, inspected the freezer- had someone been stuck there by some horrible fate?

Nothing.

Upon turning around, she tripped over a trapdoor. It had a lock. She was suddenly scared; she didn’t want to know. She wanted to go. Go inside the house. Wake Marcos up. Feel safe.

But instead, she took Marco’s keys. They were a bunch; the ones he used to open the shop. Maybe one of them opened the lock. She thought again. Did she want to find out?

She tried one key: Nothing. Another one: Nothing.  She no longer heard anything, but she felt like there was something unpleasant there. Something inside her wanted to know. Suddenly one of the keys worked. Click, the door was unlocked. She gasped. She raised the door, the lights were off. It was a basement with stairs going down. She held her breath.

A moan. The voice of a man.

“P-please… J-just kill me already…I cannot p-pay you..”

Guadalupe walked down the stairs as she heard this, her voice stuck in her throat. She began to throw up at the sight before her after turning on the light switch.

A man without his arms, cauterized on the ends, tied to a metal chair.  His eyes, inflamed by infection, displayed severe mutilation. There was a semi solid pool of blood on the floor.

“P-please…,” the man began to make crying sounds helplessly.

Guadalupe stood there in shock, saying nothing, puking out her dinner. The room smelled of feces, dried blood, and chemicals. It looked like an operating room, with the patient’s chair and medic’s tools used. In a state of shock she ran out, leaving the trapdoor open, into her house. Guadalupe grabbed her baby in between sobs, not knowing what she had just seen, or how to react. She was disgusted. Her husband was involved. Pieces began to stick together. That’s why they didn’t want her there.

In a hurry, she packed her belongings and the babys’ in a small, old suitcase box. Marcos woke up to the noise, asking Guadalupe what was going on.

“You fucking bastard. I know what you do, no need to hide it.” She said, crying. “Mi Dios, mi Dios!”

Marcos’ eyes became big, fully aware of what had happened.

“It’s not what you think, I had to do it, I had to let him do whatever he wants or-”

“No! That’s not human!” Guadalupe kept sobbing and sat on the bed, baby on her arms.

“We’re leaving. I don’t want to do this. Please don’t make me do this.”

Marcos didn’t want that. The thought of living without Guadalupe and Susana terrified him. He loved them too much to let them go.

Guadalupe begged Marcos to kill the man in the basement so he could end the poor man’s misery. Marcos explained he couldn’t get himself involved, because Don Agustín could take it out on him, his family included. But in the end, Marcos did it. His guilt was embodied in Guadalupe. Her troubled reaction, the one that Marcos had lacked, was hiding within her all along-until the moment that it broke loose, when his wife took the baby and their suitcase box. This was his fear.

“We will talk to Don Agustín” Said Guadalupe, after the man had been put to peace.

Lo siento, we can’t do that. We have to pretend he died on his own. If he finds out we killed his man, we are dead meat.” Marcos said worryingly.

In the weeks that followed, Marcos managed to talk to Don Agustín. He didn’t confess that he had killed the man on the basement, although the old man suspected of it. He did, however, say that he no longer wanted the meat shop, but that he had been very grateful for having his help when he most needed it.

His wife said she would run away, with or without him. She didn’t want to live that kind of life; she preferred to go back to being the poor family they were before any of that ever happened.

 “I can care less. You are in this, you can’t get out. If you run away I’ll chase you down. And not just that. You know it.” Don Agustín said behind a glass of beer in a nearby cantina, his gold tooth shining.

Marcos drowned himself in alcohol that night. He was not a drinker, however he knew that once he started he could not stop and the effects were harmful, something more than the usual dizziness and nausea.

As he staggered back home, the shadows of the night took the shapes of malevolent beings, chasing him, trying to kill him. The wind was furious against him, hitting against him with all its might.  The houses he was passing by because huge monsters, wanting to eat him. He felt something, someone, was after him. Was Don Agustín now trying to kill him, having changed his mind on what he planned to do? Marcos began to run. When he got to his house, he grabbed a bat.

“You won’t kill me!” he yelled at no one. Everything was different. That house was not his own. Where was he?  It was dark, the minimal light coming in from the street lamp through one of the windows. He turned around; something dark began to move towards him. Was it a dog? It must have. It belonged to Don Agustín. He had sent it.  It had its leg hurt and was half crawling; half walking. It started to bark. It wanted to kill him. Marcos was sure of it. In an attempt to protect himself, he fell, terrorized.  The dog was closer. Marcos held the bat tighter, and started to beat the dog with it. The dog barked louder. It made the sound of a small child crying now, because it wanted Marcos to believe he was not an evil dog so it would not get killed. But Marcos would not fall for it.

He beat it, and beat it, until it stopped making noises.

 


© Copyright 2020 Martina20. All rights reserved.

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