Magazín Bilingüe de Sátira Política, Humor, Anécdotas, Cuentos, MASCOTAS y Algo de Literatura Puertorriqueña
Bilingual Magazine of political satire, Humor, Anecdotes, Short Stories, Pets and Mascots and some puertrorrican literature
San Juan--Puerto Rico
In one of those days that Mercedes, was feeling good and Espartaco, Felipe and Lorenzo were off buying food in the neighborhood, she asked her mother something that was troubling her: “Mother how are we going to pay for Doctor Gaertan’s services? You know that we are poor. “–I really don’t know dear, not only that, but he has paying for all the food we have been consuming here, and has stayed next to you, throughout these past four weeks, not even leaving once.” “But what about his family, his wife and children had they not been abandoned because of me?” Her mother, looking very sad responded: “The poor man is a widower and Felipe told us, he had been staying at the plantation through this past few years after the hurricane. He lost his wife and his office all at once. Mercedes looked at her mother and tears came rushing out of her gorgeous green eyes. Before noon, she asked her mother to bathe her before men were back and then got dressed. She was a twenty-five years old absolutely beautiful young woman.
Men came back, but only Felipe and Lorenzo, Espartaco had gone back to the plantation and from there he would go back to his home town. Somebody in his family had died and he wanted to go there for the funerals. Mercedes, now fully recuperated, felt very sad, she was looking forward to talk to Espartaco and thank him for saving her life.
Almost three weeks had gone by since the good physician got back from complying with the Christian duty of seeing his relative off and give him proper burial. He had also spoken to his best friend about staying another season at his plantation. They even decided to do some serious agriculture together, and the plans were to bring thorough bred cattle, plant the necessary forage and establish a feed lot there. So, after everything was spoken, Espartaco came back to the farm followed by a hundred head of Charolais cattle that arrived a week later. No sooner he arrived he asked Felipe about Mercedes. No news was had about it but like he said: “the distance has always been a factor in how little relatives saw or knew of each other after moving away in these parts”. Sonot to worry because he was sure she was alright; otherwise, they would already sent someone to tell, like they did last time. But back there, the reason had been something different. You see, in these parts of our country and in those days, it was a matter of honor to always pay your debts, and or, the services done to you. Lorenzo Dueño was upset about their inability to compensate Espartaco for the sacrifice of leaving everything behind and come to save his daughter who was his biggest treasure—it would be for anyone—and after discussing it with his wife and Mercedes, he decided to sell his three cows and a young bull at the weekly local fair and then go to the plantation and pay the good physician. That is why he hadn’t sent any information down to Felipe’s. It was everything they had, but it was the right thing to do in their opinion.
One day about late afternoon, this homemade horse drawn buggy, came rattling down the plantation’s trail. Felipe and Espartaco were perched on the feed lot’s fence inspecting the newly arrived animals when they stopped in front of them. After the greetings formalities, Lorenzo excusing himself from taking too much of his time, told Espartaco that the reason for his visit was to pay him for his generous services to his daughter and immediately go back home, inasmuch as he didn’t want to take more of his valuable time. Mercedes at that moment, poked her face from inside the buggy, were she was very uncomfortable sat, or I should say hidden; and said hello to Felipe and Espartaco. She looked radiant, beautiful, in her pink girlish dress, dotted with pale red roses. Her gorgeous green eyes showing a childish stare and the satisfaction and thrill of being there. She had her jet black hair loosen which provided an unbelievable striking contrast. It was very difficult not to notice so much pure beauty, and it was going to be even more so for the two men not to show intense admiration as they continued looking at her.
“There is no way I am going to allow you folks to go back home today”—said Espartaco--. “Its beyond any question, you must come to the house and there we should further decide anything else”. Wellafter some resistance in the part of Lorenzo and wife, the matter was settled and they put his horse to pasture, his home-made-buggy, pulled to the side of the trail, and they all went together into the house. They were shown to their bedrooms, the bathrooms and asked to relax a little, take a bath and come to meet Espartaco, Felipe and Milagros his wife, for dinner. Some clean clothes were given to both husband and wife, and a certain old fashion dress left behind by Milagros’s daughter when she married and moved away, was given to Mercedes. They were overwhelmed with so many attentions and kindness, and were confused as to how to respond. But they ultimately settled and after several hours, all met at the dinner hall which was a big open space all the way to the kitchen and part of the veranda. The dinner was generous, they hate and later on they went to the veranda to relax.
Once at the veranda, Lorenzo brought up again the matter of the medical services’ payment. Espartaco listened very attentively, and when the man finished expressing how grateful they were, and how saving Mercedes was such a big thing to them and explained why it was so important that pay for his services.
--“Well my friendsI no longer practice medicine; if I had been a practicing physician, then it would have been a different matter. So I cannot accept any payments now. And even if I had been practicing medicine I would have not charge you anything. There are certain things that we physicians do, that are beyond the expectation of been paid it is a duty and an obligation, that goes together with our oath of medicine.
When all was said, and all was then accepted, they then shift their attention to Mercedes health. Even thought she had improved significantly, there were still some periodical episodes of coughing, especially at night. Espartaco promised he would drop by to check her. But it didn’t happened that way either. Several weeks after they left, and when he was preparing to go up to Mercede’s place, she showed up with her mother at the plantation. That night they all had a very serious conversation. It was her mother’s argument that Mercedes herself, felt very bad about having been taken cared and being saved and she wanted to compensate Esparatco one way or the other. So they had decided to come and help him in the house for a while. They argued further that it wasn’t a payment but a voluntary gesture of gratitude. Even Milagro agreed, she certainly could use the additional help. Amazed as he was and dumfounded with this gesture, he agreed with the condition that it would be for only a couple of weeks. So her mother went back and Mercedes stayed to help Milagros with the house.
The first few days were funny; Espartaco avoided any contact with the young woman, with the exception of the few evenings check ups, very professional and short; but after she stopped coughing altogether, he told her: “ good young lady; now you are completely cured and we can send you home whenever you want”. Other than that, for reasons he himself didn’t understand, he wouldn’t even talk to her. Not that it would preclude her to do otherwise, because she in turn would look for the slightest excuse to approach him, just to see how he was and even went into the habit of taking some refreshment down to feed lots every afternoon, where he spent a lot of time. He would thank her, but avoided getting into any kind of conversation and the poor girl would end up talking to herself; which after while became just a funny monologue. “How are you today Doctor? Good she would answer herself.and how are the cows doing, are they gaining some weight? And she would say: “Ho..,. yes; look how pretty they look!”. The man would look at her a bit uncomfortable, and tried to move away, to which she would react by saying: “Ho my I got get going I think Milagros is calling me”.
This went on for quite a while, and everybody in the house started to notice the veiled and muffled “war” between Espartaco and beautiful Mercedes. It was getting very stuffy inside the house every time that in the afternoon they all gathered for dinner.
The house at the plantation was typical of country tropical homes. Most were like this: one level, fairly big open space in the middle, bedrooms around it, foyer leading into a big open room that doubled as lobby, dinner area, continuing into the kitchen and half of the veranda. There was a fountain right of the middle of the central open space which in the old days, served as the house’s well and “cooling motor” for the rest of the house but now it was just used for decorative and cooling purposes.
It was dead summer and hot as hell. That night Mercedes feeling the heat and not been able to reconcile her sleep came out of her bedroom and sat around the fountain. In her girlish manner, she dip a small vase into the water of the fountain and poured it over her head. The water trickled down through her sleeping gown delineating her gorgeous body, her breasts, and loins as she moved. She was murmuring a country folk song with a delicate soprano voice which caught Espartacos’ attention, he himself unable to go to sleep because of the heat and the volcano long time brewing within and looking for a way out. He got up not knowing that Mercedes was so near. Her voice was pretty good and he felt attracted by it. Then when he looked towards where the voice was coming he caught eye of Mercedes’s figure against her bedroom’s faint light. He stood there unable to look away, transfixed by her voluptuousness. He made a desperate effort to move away but it did not happened. He was nailed to the floor and his heart pumping wild. Without knowing that Espartaco was there, she looked around and not seeing anyone, she just took of her night gown altogether and kept dipping the vase in the fountain and pouring the water all over her. The man now in near full panic, made a desperate effort to go back into his bedroom and in the process, stumbled and fell on his face. The rattle woke everybody and scared the heck out of Mercedes who noticed that it was Espartaco who made it and was flat on the floor. She just threw her gown over, and rushed to help him up. The man felt her aroma, her fresh skin smell and gentle touch and just let her help him to get up. “what happened “—she asked him. “Never mind, I just heard a noise around here, which woke me up from my deep sleep. I just wanted to see what was going on”.—He answered nonchalantly. “Ho and did you find out what made the sound”? – asked her in a sinuous tone. He then after a brief silence looking at her, said: “It was not just a plain noise it was as if an angel was singing near the fountain”. “Angels come some times to certain fountains if they are not noticed by their loved ones”- she said running back to her bedroom.
The following day, Mercedes did not come out for breakfast. The men sat, ate and in silence got up and walked to the feed lot. “ Look Doctor—said Felipe finally —last night, I heard the noise you made when you fell down. I also saw Mercedes running to help you. You might have not noticed it but that girl is flipped over you. “But she is only a childI am an old foggy and old man; she could be my granddaughter, Felipe”.—said the poor Espartaco, desperate inside because of his perception and the volcano erupting inside. “Yes sir I can understand that but as the local saying goes: “There is no date or time in a calendar for love”. Love is when it happensalways a miraclealways so spontaneousalways giving more than what’s received, it doesn’t sell, it doesn’t buy. In these mountains, there are only men and women; age is not important; nobody cares.
“But I am already and old mantoo mature for this.”—said Espartaco in a pleading way . “But sir, there is where you are wrong. This is not a chronometrical situation, where a woman asks: how old are you let see if I can love you”. Mercedes loves you because she just fell in love with you. Because of your generosity, your kindness and your treatment of her sickness. It happens this way. It is all very simple. Nothing would make here happier than to receive a simple word of affection from you. But you have, since she got here, rude to her, unaffectionate and have treated her with disdain. You seethese things have fueled her sentiments toward you; that’s how women react.
“So what should I do?”’I don’t know how to handle these things; I have loved but one woman in my whole life”. Asked the poor man, not knowing really how to proceed. Well Siryou don’t have to do anything, just let go of your emotion and allow her to get closer to you.
Both men went back to the house, now with Espartco more relaxed and serene. Unfortunately when they got back, Mercedes was gone. She had gone back with Santiago Cullar, the town Constable who asked by her father, related to him, had stopped by to check on her. Espartaco felt an immense sadness, surpassed only by the loss of his wife. He went into his bedroom and stayed there for the entire afternoon coming out only for dinner. Felipe and Milagros knew that the best thing to do when the sickness of love strikes, is to leave it unattended. When sadness because of love belongs to two, is really happiness for both.