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You Don’t Hear the Dogs Howling

 

“Ignacio, tell me if you hear a sign of some kind or if you see a light up there.”

“I see nothing.”

“We should be close by now.”

“Yeah, but I can’t hear anything.”

“Look harder.”

“There’s nothing there.”

“Poor you, Ignacio.”

The long black shadow of the men kept moving up and down, scaling the rocks, shrinking and growing while it advanced along the riverbank. It was a single shadow, wavering.

The moon was bursting out of the ground, like a glowing orb.

“We should be arriving to this town by now, Ignacio. Keep an ear out, focus and see if you can’t hear the dogs howling. Remember, they told us that Tonaya was just beyond the hill. And it’s been hours since we passed the hill. Remember, Ignacio.”

“Yeah, but I don’t see a trace anything.”

“I’m tired.”

“Put me down.”

The old man backed himself up until he reached the wall of river rock and regained his strength there, without releasing the load from his shoulders. Although his knees buckled, he did not want to sit, because afterwards he would not be able to lift his son’s body, which hours before, the others had helped him load onto his back. And he carried him this way ever since.

“How do you feel?”

“Bad.”

He spoke very little. Each time less. At times, he looked like he was sleeping. At times, he looked like he was cold. He shook. He knew when the tremors took a hold of him because of the jolts he felt, and because his feet would fit into his sides like spurs. Later the hands of the son that were locked onto his neck were shaking his head as if it were a rattle. He clenched his teeth as to not bite his tongue and when he finished, he asked,

“Did it hurt you much?”

“A bit,” he answered.

First, he had said, “Put me down here…leave me here…you go alone. I will reach you tomorrow or as soon as I recover.” He had said this about fifty times. Now he did not even say that. There was the moon. In front of them. A giant and colored moon that was filling their eyes with light and that stretched and darkened more of the ground with its shadow.

“I still don’t see where I’m going,” he was saying.

But nobody answered.

The other man was still up there, everything illuminated by the moon, with his pale bloodless face reflecting a dull light. And the other man there underneath.