by Gabriela d’Arbel (translated by Toshiya Kamei)
The wake was held in the visiting room. Rita opened the sideboard and took out the crocheted tablecloths she used to decorate the furniture on formal occasions. Don Serapio Sánchez, her husband, had just died. She dressed him in an orange shirt and a holster with his ivory-handled gun. That day, coincidentally, despite the fact that it rained the whole week, there was a break in the sky that would last several days. Only a few close friends came to the house, who followed him with an unusual and fanatical fidelity for many years. That afternoon the mourners only confined themselves to remembering, with bitterness, Don Serapio’s favors. After several rosaries and silences trapped in the closed windows, they proceeded to lift the metal coffin. In the first attempt they thought it would be easy to take away the coffin, as when it entered through the wide walnut door, but it didn’t fit. The coffin was now wider than the entrance. The four men who lifted it couldn’t hold it anymore, and needed more men to carry the now very heavy coffin. Don Serapio’s dimensions were enormous. They had to tear down the wall to take away the deceased. Outside the house there were already some men with their threatening machetes. They had every intention of stealing Don Serapio’s perfumed corpse. Every piece of that gigantic body was divided, and people who had never tasted that kind of meat enjoyed it for a few months. The village was grateful that Don Serapio had died.
Born in 1970 in Guadalajara, Gabriela d’Arbel has lived in San Luis Potosí since 1973. She is the author of several books, including La cerca y un espejo (2002), Cordelia y otros fantasmas (2009), La casa azul (2010), and Un gorro ruso (2012). Her short story “Exchange of Glances” is forthcoming in Another Chicago Magazine.
Toshiya Kamei holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas. His translations of Latin American literature include books by Claudia Apablaza, Liliana Blum, Carlos Bortoni, Selfa Chew, and Leticia Luna.