Señor Quispe’s Predicament and the Imperfection of Contentment

‘Plip plop plip plop plip plop… plink!’

She’d been accustomed when idling in a bath steeped in Epsom salts to predict when the surface tension of a swelling drip could no longer hold the water behind it. Give or take a fraction of a second she’d been correct. The drop had broken from the faucet’s spout in a measured way and accelerated into the wash basin below… ‘Plip!’ 

Over time it amused her to think the basin had formed an aleatoric duet with the chamber pot beneath the washroom’s utility tap. The two drips had fallen in counterpoint, each with its own erratic metre, at times coinciding in a chord of two dissonant notes. It had also left a drab encrustation of lime on the ceramic which had pleased her less. The stain had spread-out beneath the taps like the streaky guano of corn buntings or sparrows. Trilling and warbling the corn buntings and sparrows had themselves occasionally entered through the skylight, adding their own song to the duet.     

She’d believed it started some time ago as an Adagissimo; as the rubber washers had deteriorated the tempo quickened to Andante moderato; later she thought it cascading towards an Allegro vivace. The tiled walls had intensified the sound giving each drop a full-bodied timbre, plinking with crystal clear clarity throughout the dwelling. What had glided through her open windows, like an oeuvre of modernism, was an irritating staccato full of brio. Partial to the popular classics others had speculated the widow had after a long time taken a lover, a violinist who’d only practised two discordant pizzicato notes… ‘Plip plop!’ 

After a plop she’d waited, expecting it might have been the final note of her washroom’s magnum opus but the final note had never arrived… ‘Plink!’

So she’d called on Señor Quispe.

The unwavering certainty and emptiness of silence had been disconcerting

His estimates had been half of anyone else and the work finished in half the time, though he’d included less than half the work anyone else had. He’d been adept at acquiring the work that he hadn’t included by doing a favour, a small piece of work on the job he’d been doing. If one had totalled everything Señor Quispe had finally charged, it would have been twice what anyone else had first estimated and would have taken twice as long. No one had been sure if they’d been favoured or fooled by him, but his easy going manner had created a self-perpetuating cycle of obligation.

The handyman had come to her door squinting through two small black rings of rubber, ‘Cinco minutos Señora González,’ he’d promised. 

It felt strange losing something that had preoccupied her for so long. There had been a sense of relief but also loss. The unwavering certainty and emptiness of silence had been disconcerting, if not overwhelming. For a moment she’d thought she might miss the drips, especially those that had hit the ceramic awkwardly forming unexpected but intriguing atonal modulations. It had surprised her that she’d noticed their absence rather than appreciating the silence. Like hostages and hostage takers she’d assumed it was a syndrome that had compelled her to form an irrational bond with them. Then she remembered the drips had arrived without invitation, employed deceit, insinuating themselves in her home and had wasted her time encouraging participation in trivial diversions. Even so, waiting for the work to finish, she’d done so with a sense of apprehension. 

Uncertain why the handyman had taken so long she’d felt obliged to offer him a beer for his inconvenience. Entering the washroom with a well filled beaker, it hadn’t surprised her to see Señor Quispe’s step ladder on the floor and his legs hanging in blue cotton bib and braces from the skylight. They were as stout as the centenarian trunks of olive trees in the surrounding groves, and without much conviction they’d swung backwards and forwards with the appearance they were treading water.

‘Señor Quispe, are you coming or going?’

He peered down one of the skylight’s four corners his belly hadn’t filled, ‘Well Señora González, I think you make a valid point. But I cannot go up and neither evidently am I coming down.’ 

Immediate attempts to extract him from his predicament meant the reason ‘why?’ had been overlooked. They’d tugged his arms from the roof terrace but had concluded dragging a pit pony from the foot of a mine shaft would have been easier. In the washroom they’d hung from his legs like children swinging on maypole ribbons at the spring festival. Neither of these improvised solutions had proved effective. 

*

The following morning they’d lashed a derrick together from gin poles and dropped a block and tackle above Señor Quispe’s head. The inch thick hemp rope could have hoisted four times his bulk before snapping and had been threaded through both blocks and under his armpits. At sunrise the day had already turned sultry, so the blacksmith and four stout countrymen chalked their sweating hands. They’d beaten their chests and slapped their palms together like weightlifters with cries of ‘¡venga!’ or ‘¡vamos!’ steeling themselves for the lift. Their shouts had cut through the still morning scented by aniseed drifting up from wild fennel in the corral, while a low sun had lit a myriad of tiny specks of chalk turning them into a flaxen cloud; in an all but absent breeze it had drifted around them as they’d enjoyed a moment of introspection before taking up the rope. 

The chestnut brute had completed its deliveries from a local brewery …

The blacksmith had shouted, ‘Take the strain!’ and when Señor Quispe’s shoulders had been dragged upwards he’d bellowed, ‘Two-six-heave!’ in three clear beats like a hortator of galley slaves. On ‘two’ the four countrymen had placed their right hand on the rope; on ‘six’ the left; finally accompanying the blacksmith with ‘heave!’ as they pulled in unison. Though Señor Quispe had wriggled and the neighbour’s jackass brayed, the rope hadn’t moved through their chalky palms. 

Down in the corral they’d tied the tackle to brass ferrules of hames that girded the vast girth of an Hispano-Bretón. The chestnut brute had completed its deliveries from a local brewery, possessed a pair of tun barrels for a chest and towered over a squat albaricoque; the insignificant apricot tree had some time ago given up growing in the corral’s unfavourable conditions. 

The draymen assured Señora González that the Hispano-Bretón had out-pulled an Hispano-Suiza owned by a nearby cabrero. Its supercharger had been insufficient to overcome the draught horse despite displacing more than a decalitre through eight substantial cylinders. She’d a vague recollection of the face-off. Being neither an equestrian or automotive enthusiast, she’d have put money on the automobile’s horsepower rather than the horse, but standing with the drayman square-on, twenty hands from the brute, she’d thought it equally twenty hands high. Those who’d seen the head-to-head thought the automobile’s victory was far from assured. Justifiably so. Everyone else had said the drayman’s tale had been a lie. They hadn’t doubted the Hispano-Bretón might have bested the automobile, but accepting a goatherd could own such a priceless goliath of the road had stretched credibility. An Hispano-Suiza was the privilege of kings, heads of state and dictators, not tinkers, cowhands or goatherds.

Mounted on the Hispano-Bretón’s back the first drayman had shouted, ‘¡Arre!’ while cracking the whip over its ears and the brute had snorted and strained as the second drayman flourished his straw sombrero urging it on. Poultry bustled and squawked around their legs as the tackle, taking up the slack, had snapped tight with a crack. Leaning into its task, its thighs and gaskins had bulged under the strain. Though the thickset brute had laboured for over an hour—its head now and again bobbing to gain momentum—Señor Quispe remained snared in the skylight like a coney in a gin trap.

Early the following day the blacksmith and countrymen had wasted several hours searching the countryside for a pneumatic road drill. The search unsuccessful, they’d taken advantage of a passing gang of peripatetic navvies. 

They’d swung their sledgehammers like industrial forge hammers, the type driven by colossal machines swathed in clouds of steam. A not unpleasant petrichor of calcined lime had risen from the dampened terrace as shards of concrete shot from under the navvies hammers and salvos of sparks had ionised airborne particles. At the end of the day Señor Quispe had been perfumed with the scent of a metalled roadway, infused with a tang of alumina and oxidation, and powdered with the dust of the concrete. The foreman had shaken his head, their efforts defeated by the density and hardness of it. None of them had seen a concrete so unwilling to be broken.  

In desperation they’d greased the skylight’s iron frame with handfuls of pig lard and tied a twenty-kilogram sack of wheat middling to each of Señor Quispe’s ankles. They’d hoped over time it might pull him free. It hadn’t been disagreeable. His sore scoliotic back had been eased by the decompression, the greased frame avoided chafing his belly and the aromas had at unexpected intervals brought pleasurable moments of nostalgia. The heat of his body had begun clarifying the lard conjuring-up half forgotten memories of chiquititas; their going out infused with the smell of deep-fried churros from fairgrounds that had twinkled in the night, while the grain’s dusky nose had brought back memories of his father’s oca plantations back in Peru. In that modest moment of comfort and optimism he’d achieved a lucidity and realisation that exercise and moderation would be his pathway to freedom. 

While exercise would prove difficult—though not out of the question—he’d always been averse to moderation. He’d drunk beer from the barrel refusing a glass and eaten jamón from the bone rather than dirty a plate. It would be unreasonable to say he hadn’t made an effort but the four corners of the skylight had in due course closed around him. Not without reason—and no one had taken exception—he’d argued Señora González could ‘fatten anyone here like a hog in the dehesa!’

their lips painted with beeswax and red plant dye.

The physician who’d paid Señor Quispe routine visits advised against lard and middlings. He’d argued the method was similar to being broken on a mediaeval rack. Unlike the benefits of a modest spinal decompression, the resulting elongation of his spine would be detrimental to his health. Others, ignoring his predicament, had passed the time of day making idle chatter to Señor Quispe’s legs: ‘Buenos días Quispe, got holidays planned?’ or, ‘Seen the new barmaid Quispe. ¡Uff! She’d go right well with a bachelor like you,’ or even, ‘Quispe, I believe I saw you in market yesterday with Señora’s eggs… bring me a dozen tomorrow.’

*

Apart from the albaricoque nothing else but scruffy tussocks of wild fennel grew in the corral. Nothing else shaded the crusty pan, only the tree’s downcast leaves on four boughs and a spindly bole charred by mould. Beneath the boughs, the poultry strutted over mosaics made-up from porcelain shards, shivers of terracotta, stones and splinters of plastic bleached by the sun. Every year they were pasted together by a slurry of marl, formed from land sluiced by torrential spring rains rushing down to the plain. When high summer came, the fragments were roasted into the pan’s sepia tones and their grout galleted by the hollow carapaces of roaches and the fragile bones of shrews and field mice.

‘Bwak bwak bwak bwak bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaak!’

Clucks of disapproval cackled around the corral. The French Bresse hens were prissy, lifting their toes off the ground before condescending to plant them in the dirt, while the preened plumes of their pristine snowy-white sickles and hackles—lustrous with uropygial oils—billowed around them in preposterous bouffant confections. With a flight of fancy Señor Quispe interrupted his siesta. He often took pleasure with the notion they were the boas of Moulin Rouge divas he’d once come across in a glossy pull-out of Paris. Below the feathers he imagined a troupe of plump Gallic breasts, uplifted—as high as they could be—by boned bustiers from the chorus line of the cabaret.

Affected by a post-siesta torpidity the fantasy galloped into a freakish manifestation of his prurient fancies. As they poked the dust with ruddy beaks, he saw the divas transformed into obese pantomime dames. They pecked the principal boy with a carnal desire of unquenchable ferocity, their lips painted with beeswax and red plant dye. In the ensuing disquiet he noticed a plastic shopping bag caught in the afternoon breeze dashing around the corral like a hallucinating Cheshire cat. It blew from one corner to another and back again, its open mouth grinning from one handle to the other.  

¡Oiga amigos!’ he cried, shaking himself from what had become a disappointing afternoon reverie.

Señor Quispe hadn’t neglected the arcane advice of elders. They sat shoulder to shoulder at street corners in a uniform of coarse blue twill and berets; their ironwood sticks tapping the ground between their legs, dispensing bucolic anecdotes until twilight forced them home. It was they who’d counselled him to feed hens watermelon. They’d promised any moment between laying was an eternity they’d frantically fill by laying again. He tossed a shower of its peel and pith into the air, his arm raised as though casting manna from the sky. Having cut the peel and pith into small hexahedral pieces it scattered over the corral two floors below. Each piece was a tricolour of viridian, pistachio and blush that the elders had said was succulent with a philtre of love, the volume of which was more than the capacity of the hexahedron itself. Señora González, who was more artistic than he had called it ‘a summerly distillation of florescence and fruitfulness, a driblet held in a suspension that was effervesced with a katabatic breeze that had tumbled from a glacial peak.’ 

The hens scratched around coquettishly nibbling the melon like ravenous concubines in a dusty seraglio. Señor Quispe presumed in their beady eyes they saw him as a fabled avian. The large awnings on the roof terrace—built to shelter him—were boundless wings flapping in the breeze accompanying a chorus of their clucks; an incantation that half-convinced him of his divinity. The wings spread a beneficent shade over the baked earth and fowl as the sun went down behind his back; yet once it had, at nightfall, the hens had turned broody believing he’d abandoned them. They were calmed only by his return the following morning with the flames of a fiery sunrise blazing across his face. The two burly cocks were sceptical. At daybreak they let fly a réveillé of ‘qui qui rit qui!’ a conspiratorial crow of disapproval and a reaffirmation of the pecking order. Señor Quispe misunderstood it to be a triumphal fanfare as he arrived bringing a sun god with him.

circling the cocks in a celebration of their fertility

‘Señor Quispe you’ll outstay your welcome!’ she taunted, chuckling to herself as she strode through the corral scattering the poultry, the boots and the hem of her floral print dress powdered with dust. 

Still under the influence of yesterday’s fantasy Señor Quispe planted the back of his hand on his forehead and with relish rolled his tongue around mixed metaphors, ‘I think all the world a stage Señora González and correct me if I am wrong but a fat lady is not yet singing in your corral,’

‘Maybe! Maybe!’ she called back, gathering eggs in her baggy skirt. 

‘Señora González, how many they have put for you this morning, your belles demoiselles?’

It had been normal for them to lay at least one a day and she might have cried ‘ten’ maybe ‘eleven,’ or after a productive morning, ‘worthy of a magnificent tortilla Señor Quispe!’ Lately her demoiselles had been strutting a matinal pasodoble circling the cocks in a celebration of their fertility, squawking with self-importance while puffing their hackles below tumescent blood-red combs and wattles. On these occasions it hadn’t surprised her to gather a dozen and a half, and though the hens produced less as the autumnal days grew shorter, with All Saints Day having come and gone she stood there bemused, ‘Well for heaven’s sake Señor Quispe, I don’t know, but many! Too many to count for sure.’ 

‘I think it’s true my geese they are laying the golden eggs for you.’ Not only was he certain they’d make a tortilla the thickness and width of a granite mill stone he was convinced her floral print dress was inadequate, ‘But Señora Gonzalez you need a new dress…  bigger! You cannot keep up with your demoiselles.’

The quantity of eggs her skirt could take had been limited by what she’d been able to hold, so she’d machined two straps of webbing to the hem and looped them over shoulders endowed with a constitution that could bear the yoke of an ox and plough furrows in wheat fields. Now she was limited only by the volume of her baggy skirt and though it resembled a vast marsupium, this morning it would be necessary to fill it more than once. Arching her back and placing her rubber boots astride a loaded skirt she stumped across the corral, ‘You’re not wrong Señor Quispe my skirts grow no larger but there looks like no end to what your hens will lay.’ 

*

She’d grown weary of the autumn equinox. With few exceptions, elders took the opportunity to preach to her, ‘Put them in oven by grape harvest ‘n’ buy them back before Yuletide ends.’ They readied themselves against any scepticism by scribing a battle line—drawing their sticks across the dusty ground—raising an eyebrow, pushing their chins forward, and raising a trilby sombrero up their brow with a crooked forefinger. Despite the infallibility of the maxim this year, no one had lectured Señora González for sparing her demoiselles the slaughterhouse. The elder’s dogmatism tempered by her poultry’s yield that rose geometrically; their astonishment exceeded only by the realisation there was an exception to a truth they’d held as sacrosanct. 

Poultry continued to occupy her entire day, so it didn’t surprise her that ovoids, spheroids and ellipsoids would fill her nighttime preoccupations: glossy, matte, smooth or glassy, at times they were pimpled, dimpled, ridged or furrowed. She saw white, rarely blue and green, mostly shades from pale ivory to raw sienna. Those as immense as ostrich eggs whited out her vision, others as weightless as a hummingbird’s floated ahead of her outstretched fingertips. She tried gathering them but they teased her, twirling around her fingers and dissipating, or cascading from her hands as chalk powder over her bare feet. They appeared in a variety of forms, spherical as a hawk owl’s or prolate like the head of a flint. The shells might fracture under the weight of her anxiety, fissures running ahead from beneath her toes till she lost sight of them as they passed the horizon. Afloat at the centre of an ellipsoidal hull, shrouded in a milky medium, her knees would be tucked beneath her chin and her arms folded around her legs; her body connected by tissue within a golden balm that soothed her alabaster skin. Iridescent moonlight—from a world she had yet to see—illuminated the chamber and sparkled over her vestigial polyps that would soon form winglets and toes. The only requirement was that she was sentient. Stasis was a precondition and since emotions were superfluous, language was redundant. Neither was there the moment—much less what had been or what would be—so she was unaware that her condition would at some point be cut short by her being.

At this moment she’d wake, pheromones and allomones of broody hens filling her nasal cavities, tiny droplets lingering in her subconscious throughout the morning.

*

Señor Quispe had never been keen on watches. Ahead spread a vast natural timepiece. Over the seasons spent with Señora González, he’d perfected divining the month, day and hour using intuition; observing lengthening or shortening shadows combined with the peculiarities of the season. He himself functioned as a sundial. For breakfast these divinations were unnecessary. He heard the sizzle of olive oil hitting the cast iron griddle and the sweet aroma of caramelising onions from the kitchen range tracing curlicues of seduction that rose into the Iberian sky. He believed Señora González was a curandera, a shaman, bewitching him with her slotted spatula she flourished like a magician’s wand; entranced he stared across the plain with an enchantment breathing in each of the distinct essences making up her tortilla. 

the coffee swelled like the Bay of Biscay

Hunger warped not only his reason but his innate perception of time. His impatience grew. With expectation he teetered on top of the washroom’s stepladder. It tottered. Wobbled. His hobnail boots dancing to an a cappella zapateado on the cap. The two cocks perched on the roof of the coop shifted from one claw to the other, their beady eyes darting from side to side, their beaks pointed towards the steaming griddle. 

Then growing a little despondent he caught—softly at first—the clinking of a mug, less than half full with a café sólo, against a plate holding a quarter tortilla as they slid around on a glittery metal tray. Climbing a wooden ladder Señora González held the tray overhead with her dress hoisted around her waist so neither the tray nor her skirt impeded her, and though the tortilla sat like a paving slab on the plate the coffee swelled like the Bay of Biscay. Rising five metres from the corral she climbed a rung or two at a time, her stocky legs pounding the creaking rungs like a gitana stomping flamenco. Either ascending or descending she often forgot a rung near the top had split. Not split through, but enough to give a little when trod on. It would interrupt the rhythm of her ascent, and if the coffee splashed onto the tray she’d curse… ‘¡Coño!’ 

As she neared the top of the ladder the herrero called from the lane below, ‘What’s on tray this morning Señora.’ 

Twisting towards the blacksmith, she opened herself to the plain like a buxom figurehead of a galleon might brace itself to the ocean, a strong valley breeze taking her long black hair off both shoulders as she bore the tray on a outstretched arm like a triumphal flambeau, ‘Eggs herrero, eggs!’ 

‘You treat Quispe well Señora… still not making his own tortilla?’ 

‘Still not making his own tortilla!’ Señor Quispe bellowed at the blacksmith, ‘you’re expert nailing iron to the bottom of horse’s feet herrero but you, like me, will never crack an egg over a skillet.’ 

‘That’s true Quispe, very true.’ The blacksmith didn’t break stride, throwing his arms in the air and bowing his shaking head between them. Every morning he’d goad the handyman and enjoy Señor Quispe’s selfsame riposte. Señora González chuckled as she continued upwards. After the morning’s diversion, it had slipped her mind… 

¡Coño!

As breakfast was always a tortilla so supper was huevos rotos. Apologetic about the number of eggs they ate, Señor Quispe would assure her, ‘We must eat them Señora González, after all each day we have enough to breakfast a large provincial English town!’ The heavy tomes between the two simple bookends were modest banquets where they feasted on a clutch of recipes that would have sated any gourmet of robust Hispanic cuisine: huevos a la flamenca with four cracked eggs over jamón and chorizo, flamenqúin rolled in beaten egg and breadcrumbs, a bitoque with sauteed potatoes topped with a broken egg, or a steaming minestra sprinkled with cheese, an egg dunked in the simmering soup to poach. There were other gametic dishes he’d forgotten until they arrived on Señora González’s tray like unexpected gifts. Whatever they lunched on from May till September, they ate eggs… and a desert of watermelon. 

*

Tonight he cut the peel and pith a little disconsolately.

Unlike other days, this evening, he was more aware of the lower part of his body. Till now it had atrophied into a mechanism for evacuating faeces and urine; a slab of concrete prevented his hands from satisfying himself and so he found he was less aroused. When he was, it was often during sleep, so it was a perfunctory emission that did little to please him. Señor Quispe had come to believe he possessed a trinity of excreta, not only faeces and urine, but also seminal fluid. He’d read with concern that any residual seminal fluid was reabsorbed into the body, but the physician had assured him it wasn’t contributing to his weight gain and there were other more apparent causes. He’d begun to accept he might have to sacrifice his satisfaction below the slab for his gluttony above it. Yet that evening he was stimulated such that his phallus was as gorged and satisfied as his belly. While he’d accepted he might never again have knowledge of Señora González’s washroom, at that moment, his swollen glans were an exception tapping the washroom ceiling to the beat of his heart. 

the iron frame had now closed entirely around Señor Quispe’s belly.

He understood the stimulus was caused by something soft and moist; neither small nor large; pointed but in a blunted way; also flexible, extensible and enveloping. It possessed a determination and insistence that suggested it wasn’t an inanimate object but something that had vitality and urgency. This thought served to arouse him more such that below the concrete he felt a coursing of fluids through his epididymal tubing forced by uncontrollable contractions of increasing frequency. Very soon he was helpless to prevent a violent release. He had no knowledge where the emission ended-up, he would likely never know, nor was he aware what or who had caused this extraordinary occurrence. At that moment it didn’t concern him. He only wished for it to happen again.

Which to his surprise it would.

On a regular basis. 

*

At first she’d bathed with a sense of unease, conscious that Señor Quispe was hanging from the ceiling. If he’d shifted his legs, by instinct, she’d have lowered herself in the water and spread the foam bath salts so they floated evenly across its surface. Not long ago she realised what she did in the washroom was done in anonymity; the iron frame had now closed entirely around Señor Quispe’s belly. 

After a hot bath before supper the coarse towelling brushed her oversuckled dugs—worn out by  thirsty newborns—that hardened in a crisp draught passing through the washroom. It aroused her, and she felt an unexpected desire for intimacy that she’d not felt for many years. As anonymity, opportunity and impulse coincided she climbed the first few rungs of the stepladder, took out Señor Quispe’s phallus and closed her mouth around it. It was over quickly. It wasn’t unpleasant and curiously she thought it left a taste of watermelon in her mouth. Later she was of the opinion that a morsel of watermelon had been there all along—unbeknown—uncovered by the state of arousal that had heightened her senses. 

As she’d pleasured him, reminiscences having been neglected for many years had given the illusion of being appreciated for the first time; so fleeting they’d passed as sensations rather than memories. Later in a moment of reflection she considered them at greater length, recalling love long since requited: picking sweet smelling posies for chicos, the rising sun sweating a peppery balm from the meadow’s tall grasses; dodging through eucalyptus groves alongside locomotives whose bassy whistles had reverberated through her, smoke and steam spouting from their stacks; the pleasure of homemade ice cream, licking the first cone of summer flecked with black vanilla seeds, that she’d eaten before having time to enjoy it; the splatter of heavy raindrops hitting the corral and scattering their perfume, an unexpected mix of earthy musk and phenolic purity, and overcome by contentment she’d sat with the warmth of the hearth on her back as wintry showers pitter-pattered on the window panes.

She reasoned whilst Señor Quispe hung from the skylight it harmed no one to take advantage of the situation.

On the contrary.

*

Señor Quispe had always been fond of his Beistegui Hermanos, a dinosaurian tricycle made immediately after the Civil War. It had been adequate to carry him and his tools round the hamlet in a large wicker basket between its two front wheels. A small gasoline motor mounted over the back wheel had provided extra propulsion necessary to climb the hamlet’s steep hills.

While he was convinced it was an outdated relic he’d recently seen one described as a vintage velocipede, advertised at a price he thought might buy him a Seat 500. So, it seemed an oversight—though at the time said to be in his interest—that the tricycle had been dismantled and its heavy cast iron frame strung beneath him. They’d discarded the parts no longer needed: the basket, brakes, gasoline motor and chrome plated thumb bell. Bolting the blacksmith’s hoist to the washroom’s ceiling allowed Señora González—with the help of the cannibalised gasoline motor—to raise and lower the tricycle beneath him. The tricycle provided him with the hour of daily exercise the physician had recommended. Señor Quispe considered it presumptuous that they presumed to know what was in his best interest but straddling its extravagantly sprung leather saddle dutifully spun the wheels of his tricycle while the saddle squeaked with familiarity beneath him. 

To ease the tedium of exercise, he indulged himself with the idea that suspended far above the corral and with boundless wings flapping around his head he was a pioneer of early aviation. Piloting a chain-driven flying machine, he’d rent Señora González’s dwelling from the hilltop, pulling it into the skies from around his belly. He soared over the plain skimming wispy clouds; accompanying the Iberian eagles he saw riding the thermals. While he missed the chrome plated thumb bell he could no longer ring and the rod brakes he would never again pull, going nowhere he spun the pedals a little faster. His belly pressing the iron frame a little harder.

First published by Hearth & Coffin Literary Journal on the 28 March 2022

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