Translated by Alfred MacAdam
Tormented by conflicting desires for Crabby and Albina, Amado follows the two women through the desert in their search for the magical cactus that will alleviate Albina’s dangerous transformations, eventually meeting up with them at a Spanish galleon manned by cement Saint Peters. As the full moon approaches, the lusty men transformed into slobbering dogs by Albina’s bite come to find her.
The water bottle weighed forty pounds and Crabby’s iron bar added another forty, and the heat fell on him like a bird of prey weighing tons. It was an impossible cross to bear, being loaded down so heavily while walking over this corrosive surface, an immense tongue dried out by centuries of drought that with tremendous thirst slurped up the slightest moist particle, always ready to suck flesh dry until it turned into a piece of jerky. In spite of his suffering, Amado continued his march northward, cursing the shortness of his legs. Very often, he collapsed in agony on the vampire plain, his whole body transformed into a wound. Still, his desire to curl up in Crabby’s shadow, a mysterious stain that was also an extension of his body, a stem that fixed him to reality, tied strings to him that, in a possible future, would hoist him up as if he were a marionette, pulling him toward his happy destiny: to enter the womb of that woman and transform her into a lover, generous mother of his soul who could then give birth to a normal-sized Amado. The delirium of sunstroke deposited him opposite a Spanish caravel. He rubbed his eyes. No, he was not dreaming! The ship, about eighty feet long and twenty-five feet wide, had three masts, all of them transformed into crosses where three Saint Peters were nailed up like Christs. On the bow a name was inscribed: santa maría. It was an exact copy of Columbus’s ship in reinforced concrete.
Amado climbed up to the deck on a rope ladder. Instead of sailors, he found scattered on the lower central part, on the poop deck, and on the prow, tall sculptures of Saint Peter at work. One Saint Peter guided the wheel below the bridge. Since he couldn’t see where the ship was going from that vantage point, another Saint Peter, a pilot, placed on the bridge, seemed to shout orders at him. In a small cabin near the prow, fifty Saint Peters slept on cots. In the forward hold, Saint Peter cooks were feeding plaster pigs, cows, goats, and chickens left over cement vegetables. One Saint Peter was milking, another cutting slices of ham, another gathering eggs. And way down in the hold, over the keel, there were barrels, boxes, and packages—also made of cement—to imitate the ballast that gives ships stability. There were Saint Peters everywhere tying knots, climbing lines, eating iron crabs and porcelain fish, sewing brass shirts, playing mute guitars, cleaning, scanning the horizon. In the main cabin, opposite a standard emblazoned with church of saint peter, patron of fishermen, there was an altar. On top stood, instead of candelabra, seven wooden barrels filled with real water. The inscription on them read, “Pilgrim crossing the mortal desert of life, you have been able to reach this temple, so know that Saint Peter protects you. Satisfy your thirst, but with just the water you need, because others may also visit this holy refuge. Humbly recognize that you do not walk alone through the world; Saint Peter accompanies you, attached to your heart. Believe in your destiny because it is ours as well. We sail together in search of a new world.” Without touching his water bottle, Amado opened his mouth below the wooden spigot of one barrel and drank until he was replenished. His physical well-being made him feel guilty. In a few hours, night would fall, and Drumfoot and the other dog-men would follow his partners’ trail. The only thing he could do in this anguishing situation was pray. He prayed until his eyelids were lead. He pushed a Saint Peter out of his cot, climbed in praying, felt a chill followed by a stretching of his body, and fell asleep like just another plaster figure.
The angry rays of the dying sun fell at a sharper and sharper angle, bouncing like stones skipping over the surface of a lake. They produced trembling mirages that seemed to fill the desert with water. Soon a black explosion submerged the zone in silence. The cold of the mountain wind silenced the impertinent giggles of the rebellious spiders.
The crunch of the saline crust broken by tired footsteps awakened the hat maker. Hopping about awkwardly as he put on his trousers, he walked to the poop deck and saw two dots that little by little turned into two rats, then into two sea turtles, then into two hungry beasts, then into two tenebrous bandits, and finally—praise to God!—into what they really were: Albina and his beloved Crabby! Amado sobbed with joy. Crabby did as well, but she knew how to cover up her tears by letting herself drop onto the ground of stinking nitrate and yelling obscenities: “You fucking dumbbell, by the hemorrhoids Mary got from pushing so hard to bring on the virgin birth, stop staring at us with those stupid frog eyes, move those tiny legs of yours, and bring us water! We’re as dry as a nun’s cunt!” Panting, Albina collapsed next to her friend, her tongue as dry and cracked as the desert floor. Carrying the water bottle on his head, Amado jumped off the bridge onto the sand and ran to the women, making a superhuman effort to keep his balance. Crabby, her stomach swollen as if she were pregnant, insisted that the first to drink go to Albina, who swallowed at least a gallon. Then a good squirt was sent toward Quirquincho, who emerged from Crabby’s protective belly, surprised by the unexpected rain, and lapped it up. Finally, while Crabby was drinking, the little man whispered into her ear, “Too bad what you gave birth to wasn’t my son!” Recovering her old personality, she elbowed him sharply, seemingly offended. But that sweet, manly voice, like a fertilizer, went from her ears to the interior of her chest and was enough to make her bosoms grow. Her nipples, of a dark coffee shade, perked up, hard and sensitive, and turned pink.
“Please, ladies, make an effort and accompany me onto the caravel. The temple of Saint Peter offers us a welcome refuge.”
They pulled the cardboard blankets off the saints and stretched out on the hard cots, trying to protect themselves from the cold. Albina, sulking because the pygmy was present, covered her head under the false blanket and fell fast asleep. Crabby allowed Amado to stretch out next to her, with a Saint Peter of course separating them. Then she explained, “What a disillusionment, my friend! We went to get more and came back with less. You know what it’s like to hike over this murderous surface with millions of spiders giggling away and the dart-like assault of the sun’s rays. When we passed by the ship loaded with water and shade, Albina, thinking that wanting and daring meant power, made a grimace of disdain and refused to stop. After a few hours, our mouths were salty wounds and our lungs burning trees. The harsh body of the armadillo that I carried next to my belly weighed as much as an elephant. Half dead, we climbed a ridge that crossed the path, and from above we could see the Camarones River we’d been seeking so hard.
The meager stream was covered by a ragged multitude; men, children, and women, protected from the sun with umbrellas, were using wood-framed sifters to wash the sand carried by the sulfurous water in search of copper nuggets. A radio antenna on the roof of a cargo truck carried a flag with the emblem of the Chuquicamata mine. Police, armed with cattle prods and rifles, guarded those worn-out workers as if they were criminals or slaves. Among them strolled a skeletal dark man wearing English-style jodhpurs and a military cap with a neck protector, with a short whip hanging from his wrist, a revolver in his belt, hair dyed a urine color, face covered with pale makeup, and high-pitched voice spewing orders and insults in a U.S. accent.
“Given the description you’ve made, madam, that man can only be the gringo Echmit, a combination of Mapuche Indian, Spaniard, and monkey who wants only to look like his bosses. He’s such a sycophant and so eager to ascend the ladder of the dollar that, according to those in the know, he satisfies the needs of Mister Nilly, the director general, so fond of anal pleasures. That promiscuous and false Yankee has made a fortune exploiting the miners with his taverns that only accept tokens issued by the mine, his syphilitic whores, and his unhealthy barracks, where he packs the workers in like cattle! I’d been told that this usurious clown had been picking up the bits of metal carried by the river, but I never suspected he did it with the complicity of the army. Those brutes shoot first and ask questions later. They’re terrified of bandits. And, my lady, what did you two do then?”
“Oh, Amado (make no mistake here, I’m referring to your name and not to any feelings), what could we do? Just walk in and ask permission to let an armadillo sniff around the riverbank looking for a mysterious root? First, they would have taken us for lunatics, and second, suspecting who knows what kind of business we might be involved in, they would have tortured or simply murdered us. We decided to retreat, take refuge in the caravel, and find another way to locate the root early tomorrow.”
“Oh, as if all that weren’t bad enough! There’s a full moon tonight!”
As soon as she saw that Albina was no longer in her cot and the hat maker was following her with great difficulty, Crabby ran toward the deck like a whirlwind. There the naked giant was shaking her hips, arousing the dog-men who were racing around the ship without daring to board it out of fear of so many Saint Peters. Her white skin was already covered with fur, and her hard spine forced her to kneel to keep it horizontal. Her long, dripping tongue hung between two rows of sharpened fangs, and a tail was growing above her shaking buttocks.
“Amado, help me tie her up! She’s still more human than animal, so she won’t bite us. Some of those rope belts on the Saint Peters would do the trick.”
They tied her to the mainmast. When the moon reached its zenith, Albina transformed completely into a dog. In heat, she whined to call the excited beasts. Realizing the sailors were nothing more than plaster dummies, the dog-men jumped higher and higher, leaning their forelegs on the hull but unable to reach the deck. Crabby and Amado had pulled up the rope ladder and sealed all the hatches.
An intoxicating perfume from the white bitch’s sex wafted toward the males. They jumped and jumped like bits of meat on a red-hot grill, and their barks became deafening. Even threatening them with her iron bar, Crabby could not get them to leave. Their bestial desire left no room for fear; to sink themselves into the female they would sacrifice their bones without a second thought. Crabby looked over at the little man: “There’s a lot of them! They’re insane! Soon they’re going to discover that they can climb up on one another’s back! Before they possess their goddess, they’ll tear us to pieces!”
Amado embraced her and buried his face into her navel, because that’s as high as he could reach. “My lady, it will be an honor and a moment of glory to die with you!” Crabby just stood still, incapable of moving; the idea that someone would think it an honor and a glory to die with her, preferring her to all the beautiful women in the world, suddenly revealed to her that despite her apparent ugliness, she could have the right to be the object of someone’s attention. She had spent so many years on the margin, seeing everything and everyone from a distance, buying friendship from Albina with her loyalty and services, believing herself a dark planet orbiting around a blazing star, and suddenly, here was evidence of love like this, coming from someone who was perhaps insane, depraved, or a maniac, proving to her that she actually existed. Despite the imminent danger, she wanted to laugh, to weep, to live, to be devoured instantly, to have the proof that in fact this little man (much more a man than men of normal size) would sacrifice himself at her side for her sake.
The bitch sniffed around, lifting her red-hot rear. The irregular rhythm of three hard paws and one soft pierced the night—Drumfoot was approaching. The human dogs, trying to become ants, fled, almost crawling on their bellies. Four or five stragglers lost chunks of flesh; the bites of the mangy Drumfoot were implacable. Howling pitifully and trailing red droplets, the victims reached the rest of the terrified pack. The aggressor scratched the ground with his forepaws, shook off the cockroach-shaped drop of sweat that formed on his back, raced toward the caravel, and made a mad leap, out of eagerness to rape and rend, to land on the bridge. There he received a blow from Crabby’s iron bar, right on his skull. The pestilential animal fell stiff next to the female he hated and desired so much. Albina, made wild by the scent of blood, tore herself free of the Saint Peter belt with her teeth, snapped at the fat paw of the unconscious Drumfoot, threatened her partner with another, and squirted a flood of urine toward the face of the hat maker. Then she gave a majestic leap and fell running into the sand toward the humiliated dogs and, once surrounded by them, offered them her posterior. The dogs, their pride recovered and panting with eagerness, began to possess her.
As she watched that frenzy of hips, Crabby fell as if expelled from a good dream toward a repulsive reality; in a single instant she felt all her bones, which to her seemed empty. The only marrow that circulated through them was an unbearable solitude. Amado began to writhe and twist. He too was turning into a dog. “No, friend, not you! Don’t leave me! If you abandon me too, I’ll die!” Hairy and on all fours, his muzzle jutting, the little man shook his head as if he wanted to rid himself of his long ears. “I… don’t want to… I … am for… you… my… mistress… But… bitch… called me… Go… fornicate… must… I go.” “No, goddamn it, you aren’t going! You’ll stay here at my side! You still have some human parts: your eyes, your hands, your member! Let love give you the will to stay! Orient your desire toward me. I, too, am a female!” Crabby removed her clothes, squatted down, rested her forehead on the floor, and turned her back to him. The dog part of Amado wanted to mount her immediately, but the human part held him back. “Mistress… do… not sacrifice yourself… I return at dawn.” “But it’s no sacrifice. I want you all for myself! Make me finally know love!”
Restraining his bestial instincts, Amado sniffed greedily between her buttocks, clenched his jaws to keep himself from licking, and introduced, with great respect, only the tip of his member. In that position, he rubbed the lips for a long time, patiently waiting for them to be covered with an abundant dew. He went in a bit more and pushed against the hymen, slowly increasing the pressure until, softened by growing desire, she opened like the petals of a flower. “Enter me completely! Your degraded form does not disgust me. I’ve seen your eye. Through them, I’ve seen your soul; that’s what I want!” Crabby said in a new, melodious voice. Amado, forgetting his animal part and concentrating on the little he retained that was still human, advanced through that sacred intimacy inch by inch. As pleasure overwhelmed him, a pleasure she shared, sighing deeply, his canine features began to disappear. In the instant when her vagina, trembling like a newborn dove, embraced his entire phallus, he became completely human again. Their two bodies, falling from skin to soul, revolved until they were more or less face-to-face. Then Crabby lowered her head and stretched her neck downward so he could kiss her. When their tongues united and a powerful, paradisiac rhythm began, the desert became a sea, and the cement ship began to sail with silky, invisible sails until it crossed the horizon and vanished in the stars.
*Excerpt from Albina and the Dog-Men by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Forthcoming from Restless Books, May 2016.
Posted: May 10, 2016 at 9:24 pm