Enrique el gitano

Enrique el gitano could read the future, or that’s what he said. Summer evenings were long, and we could take a nap, and wait, and waste time, and there was still time afterwards, time to chase lizards. He needed lizards to read the future.

Today is his cousin Antonio’s birthday and the three of us go to the old church to look for lizards. We call it the old church but is not a church anymore, is just a ruin, a single wall surrounded by fallen wooden beams scattered through the hill like dismembered bodies. The stones burn our bare feet. It is so hot and dry that we can hear the wood cracking. Nature is exhausted, nothing moves; that’s why we can catch the small lizards, they can barely move. In my hand they feel silky and rough at the same time. No los aprietes tanto, tienen que estar vivos. Don’t grab them too hard, they have to be alive. Enrique says.

Primero tú, Antonio. You first, Antonio. And Antonio places his lizard on the floor. Then Enrique, Enrique el gitano, takes out a small pocket knife and cuts of the lizard’s tail. The lizard’s body runs away, the tail moves and twists, and makes a noise, like a small whip, and also traces letters on the dirt, letters that Enrique reads. Antonio, que vas a ser un genio en la vida. Antonio, you are going to be a genius in life. Y vas a tener muchos hijos, como el príncipe gitano, y tu nombre no va a morir nunca. And you are going to have a lot of children, like the gipsy prince, and your name will never die. Enrique speaks with a voice that is not the voice of an eight year old, it is his father’s voice, his grandfather’s, the voice of a pagan gospel. Enrique opens his arms and talks, and sometimes he closes his eyes and keeps talking without paying attention to the lizard’s tail that still shakes although it is too weak now to make any noise. Y ahora tú, Mariano. And now you, Mariano. It was my turn.

Enrique el gitano cuts of my lizard’s tail that moves and twists like the other one. But he keeps quiet. There is a transparent flame coming out of the stones, a flame that waves the air, and curves the landscape. It seems that we are the only three children left in the world. ¿Qué dice, Enrique? What does it say, Enrique? I asked. Yo no le puedo decir a usted, estas son cosas graves. I cannot tell you, these are severe things. And he runs away; Enrique and his cousin run away. I cannot move. I am a lizard, ready to be kill by a predator. There is no sweat on the palms of my hands, I can hear my heart beat, I look at the lizard tail, still moving. Without talking Enrique told me everything I needed to know. That was my life.

That was my life, a dying reptile muscle, a swimmer drowning, a throat open without words. A child burns, nobody around.