The Drowned Man, by Quim Ramos

So out of nowhere came the memory of my drowning death on the beach, under the belly of a truck that, with the canvas as a seat, stayed over me due to the persistent insistence of the waves and prevented me from sticking my head out of the water to fill up with oxygen, which I missed. A second before my lungs burst, I opened my eyes to see two pale goldfish staring at me in something akin to amazement.

Before long the sea left me gently on the sand. I really didn’t know what to do or where to go. I couldn’t pull myself away from the cold, wet, sand-covered body that lay beside me, and which the crabs, emerging from their hiding places, were now eating with voracious relish. I tried to chase them away, but my current physical fickleness prevented it. Fortunately, a group of people arrived and the crabs quickly returned to their dark burrows in the sand. I noticed that the body was not tarnished much and still retained its rare beauty. Someone said something like: He is the most beautiful drowned man in the world. Another said: The flesh of the most beautiful drowned man in the world must be delicious.

They surrounded the body, from which I could not separate. They looked at him in silence, one might say in awe or something very close to ecstasy. It was a mixed bag of people. I can describe them, but why? tire me Death tires, who would have thought? Put a transvestite hairdresser next to a priest, a lawyer on the move with a briefcase in hand next to a dwarf dressed as a clown, a movie diva in a beautiful sequined suit next to an ice cream seller in his white uniform and his cart with little bells. This will give you an idea. The only thing that articulated this group was the fascination my body provoked in them. However, they had approached the endless shore as a group, united by years of coexistence and common goals.

When I turned, I saw that the motley group of people had lifted the body from the sand.

I amused myself by watching a girl and a boy run through the palm trees to a collapsed pier. The girl entered the water, and when she passed a thick pole jutting several feet above the surface, she flinched. He turned and hopped back onto the bank on one leg. He showed the boy the torn ankle, in which thick lumps of fat could be seen hanging, and at the bottom of the hole opened by the steel of the rod, the glistening bones. The boy stopped abruptly, and, transformed into a stone statue, seemed enraged and frightened by this catastrophe, and finally turned and ran away, disappearing among the palm trees. The girl was left bawling on the seashore. At that moment I felt myself being pulled. The adventures of these children who appeared out of nowhere distracted me, so when I turned around I found that the group of motley people had lifted the body from the sand and were now carrying it away. I had no choice but to follow them. It was still attached to that piece of flesh with an invisible but strong bond.

We walked for hours on the beach in an endless run. This double line of light brown, that of the land, and greenish, that of the sea, never ended, which, as the night gradually came on, first took on the color of lead, and finally black and heavy. The sky filled with stars. Their encrypted messages to the fish pulsed. The lights of a ship accompanied us in the distance. Those lights were broadcasting another message, this time addressed exclusively to me. They called me with sirens. They reminded me of my old desire to be a sailor. Rather lead a sailor’s life. Better that of a captain who locks himself in his cabin during the quiet nights and writes poems dedicated to the sea. I wish at this very moment I could walk away from the group and head towards those lights. Listen to his call and lose yourself forever in the ocean. But there was still the body claiming my presence. I, who no longer had anything to do with him, reluctantly followed. I couldn’t help but want the chains that bound us to break soon.

At dawn we came to a river that fed the sea with its sweet waters. The disparate group of people washed the body in its crystal clear waters. Then they placed it on a wooden table and proceeded to cut it. First they separated the head from the body with a quick and clean cut. They threw her on the sand. Seagulls descended on her, hungry for meat. The still fresh body, bright in color and free from strong odors, was treated with respectful sweetness by the motley group of people. First they worked on the stomach. Precise cuts made with smooth metaphysical movements create perfect pieces. These rectangles of fresh pink meat were then sliced ​​into two-millimeter-thick thin slices or two-inch-thick pieces. The bones with bits of meat, gristle and fat were thrown into a barrel full of boiling water that hung over a large fire. They cooked them there for hours. Then they took them out, waited for them to cool, dried them and cleaned them, and finally gave them to the children to play with as they pleased, children I had not seen before and who came out of the wet and dense forest that sloped onto the beach and that my reminded of the terrified boy who ran away from his wounded friend. I felt an urgent need to find him. Now that there was no body to bind me with ambiguous but powerful bonds, I could go wherever I wanted. So I took one last soulful glance at the motley crowd seated around the campfire, feasting on my flesh, and at the children locked in fierce battle, howling wildly and striking hard at my charred bones, and I moved away in search of the frightened kid.

For brief seconds I needed physical contact, to return to flesh and blood life.

I wandered quietly between palm trees and angry crabs that unsuccessfully tried to capture my soul with their large claws. I walked past the collapsed pier and saw the clotted blood on the sand. I gazed mesmerized at the beautiful contrast of red on gold and felt the sharp stab of nostalgia. For brief seconds I needed physical contact, to return to flesh and blood life. It was hardly a melancholy blink, for I immediately remembered the frightened boy and my purpose in finding him. So I continued to wander languidly, without a predetermined course, convinced that this was the only way, at any rate the right way, to find him.

He was still wandering when a storm approached from the horizon. They still rumbled far away. The wind became strong in erratic gusts, and the skin of the sea bristled, forming jets of white foam that beat against the shore as if to swallow her. Heavy, black clouds descended above me and collapsed into a thick curtain of dark droplets so thick that the landscape dissolved around me. Then I saw him. At first it was just a shapeless blob dancing in the rain. When I approached and stood beside him, he was still a shapeless mass dancing in the rain, driven by the roar of the sea and the roar of the sky. There was no doubt that it was the frightened child, but it had become something like nature on fire, a wild creature that writhed to the rhythm of the storm. You are my dream, said the scared child, or that moving blob that was once the scared child. And I’m someone else’s dream, he continued. I heard a ship’s siren and then the storm stopped. Instead, a thick fog surrounded us. Although he could barely see him, the scared boy was the scared boy again: pale face, eyes wide with the horror of the world, mouth open and silent. Streams of urine ran down her inner thighs. The silence was absolute, painful. The frightened boy ran away again, lost himself again among the palm trees. I looked at the mist that was the sea. I heard the stroke of the oars on the water, which was as dead. A barge materializes on the shore. They offered me a hand and I took it. The bottom of the barge was covered with a black blanket, from which sprouted long fine leaves crowned with small yellow and red flowers. When the mist cleared, and did so with the same sudden speed with which it materialized, I could see a kind old man with an erative smile at the stern, rowing without taking his eyes off me. Or was he looking at the distant shore? In the distance, in the sea, impossible to determine the exact distance, the lights of a ship awaited us. We rowed long, rowed, it could have been an eternity, to the rhythm of the crushing collision of the oars with the sea water. However, time seemed to have stopped, and we with it, in an endless sigh… Until the barge hit the metal hull of the ship. A ladder unfurled above us and fell onto the barge, next to the sweet, dumb old man. Nobody told me what to do. I climbed the ladder and stood on the empty deck. The engines started, the propellers turned silently underwater, the ship creaked like an ice cream cone, broke in half and sank, and with it sank my dreams of forever sailing the seas of this world.

Recent Posts by Quim Ramos (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.