Colonia Dignidad At the Afroson, Jeremy’s neck hurt from turning abruptly every time another punter walked in. He was waiting for Lula but she never appeared. The disappointment of her absence and the longing made him down Escudos manically. He pictured Lula dancing with Madrina at the beach, twisting and turning like a drunken spintop, howling at the wind. The vision was still crystal clear despite the effects of the San Pedro having worn off. He should have tried to kiss her. He should have discovered whether it was her lips perched on his mouth when they all lay entangled under the lighthouse. He should have said something but his upbringing and the psychotropic drugs had thrown in into a kind of stupor. He walked passively beside her, enjoying the miracle of her presence but doing and saying nothing to reinforce their bond. Why had he failed to act? Was it fear that induced his inertia when it really mattered most? He remembered the day he auditioned for Riverbound, one of the finest bands in the underground indie scene in Leeds. Nothing had come out of his throat. Nothing even though he knew the songs perfectly. He stood there like a door knob waiting to be opened. Later he realised fear had paralysed him. He made up an excuse and left and left the rehearsal room. Cheerio; the end of his musical career. Jeremy was sick of the insecurity and the doubt, he was sick of the fear. Lula could not come under the category of things he lost coz he shat himself. He was resolved to make a move but she was nowhere to be seen.
The Afroson seemed different without her. Like if they had removed a layer of gloss from the spirit of the venue. Only the shell was left and it did not stand up to the comparison to his two first visits. Even the music had nosedived into mediocrity. The singer impersonating Bob Dylan in Spanish was cheesy and trite. Jeremy had tried to zone him out as he bellowed tunes which followed the exact progression of the Americana God but with a less convincing tone. If only the rattle stopped he would have been able to concentrate fully in the intensity of his desire towards Lula. He had tried so hard to ignore the music that he had also failed to notice Ulises who had been sat listening to the singer for over an hour. When Bob finished, the librarian approached the bar and patted Jeremy condescendingly on the back.
-How are you? –he asked.
-Ulises! –exclaimed Jeremy –where were you?
-Just back there weon. Do you like the music?
-No. Ulises laughed.
-Bob Dylan does not sound right in Spanish. Where’s Lula?
Ulises laughed again.
-Chucha! –he exclaimed suddenly.
Fuentes walked in confidently looking around like he owned the place. He had recovered much of his nocturnal swagger and swayed his shoulders arrogantly as he walked straight to the bar. Jeremy was not sure if he was elated or terrified by the sudden appearance of the professor but he definitely produced a reaction. A mixture of excitement and dread which was not to be ignored. The professor walked up to Ulises and sighed.
-Weon. Tanto tiempo.
Then he turned to Jeremy and slapped him gently in the cheek. Jeremy was shocked.
-Maestro. You been studying hard they tell me. De Aguilar says you are not a simio. Good. Good. Get us some beers. The next one’s on me.
Jeremy ordered some Escudos. Ulises seemed uncomfortable and informed he was about to leave in a number of occasions. The Professor was not having it and he pushed him down into the stool every time Ulises attempted to get up. Fuentes sat between the two of them and ranted about the arrogance and immorality of Western Civilization. He rambled on about the Greeks and how only those who learnt their language were considered worthy humans of the republic. He was interchanging between Spanish and English and both Ulises and Jeremy got completely lost at some point of the conversation. However, Jeremy liked listening to the professor speak. He liked his passion, his intellect and his digressions. Jeremy was enjoying the madness until he mentioned Lula.
-She won’t go with you –sentenced Fuentes –there is no chance.
Jeremy’s eyes drooped in surprise and despair.
-What you mean?
-She hates the English. Well the mother hates. I would know.
-Why are you saying this?
-Maestro. At your age love is an alarm clock. It happens to wake you up from adolescence. It shows you that you are still a weon. But I can tell you myself and save you the trouble. Don’t go near it.
Ulises disapproved with a continuous shaking of the head.
-Have you heard of Colonia Dignidad?
-Big news internationally weon! It was a German Evangelical colony in the middle of Chile it was. Two hours of Santiago. Crazy ex-Nazi priest Sheuffer had 300 Germans enslaved. He would separate families and made sex with the children. He also came up with new techniques for torture with electricity. They bought a machine from Germany for cows which fried humans like potato chips, like French fries imagine that. Pinochet and he were friends so Augusto decided to use the colony and the machine to torture communistas. It was far away and no one could go in. No journalists.
-Yes, yes, everybody knows.
-Terrible but what’s that got to do with the English? –asked Jeremy.
-They sent Lula’s dad there. She was only five years.
-Fuck! –exclaimed Jeremy. Ulises sighed too.
-Professor of politics. I knew him. Jaime. There was an English journalist too. They took them to Colonia Dignidad together. Patricia decided to go to the English Embassy to get them out. She was sure the English would help her but they gave her tea, filed a report and they never did anything. Not a chucha thing. In the news in England, no one knew about the journalist or Lula’s dad. Patri was devastated. She wanted to kill them so she went back to the embassy. They reported her to the Pacos. Can you believe it? She was arrested too. She hated the English then and when she saw Thatcher getting wet on TV for the dictator she went crazy! Said she wanted the Argentinians to burn down The Malvinas. Do you know Thatcher and Pinochet were fucking like mad during the Malvinas?
-Yes, the fucklands.
-Whatever weon. He was nailing her, imagine! Young boys dying all over and him putting his pinus in the Iron Lady.
-What happened to Lula’s dad?
-Disappeared? What does that mean?
-Everyone knows what that means during a banana dictatorship. Years later they found fragments of bones in the fields. Just chucha fragments, can you believe it? More beer por la chucha! –screamed the professor –there seems to be clouds in her tonight, black chucha storm clouds, black!
Jeremy was shocked. Ulises seemed to be new to the information about Lula’s dad too. They both sat in silence sipping their beers. He wasn’t sure whether he was more upset about the information concerning the killings and the inaction of his government or the decreasing possibilities of his relationship with Lula.
-Where’s that chucha music! –screamed the professor. His own story had upset him. He got up and forced himself to dance but his shoulders looked heavy. He was not connected to the moment and the energy was flat and uninspiring. Jeremy looked at him sadly. He thought about Lula and wept inconsolably inside. He felt like someone wearing skiing boots had kicked him in the chest. He hated Thatcher and Juan and the white ogre of a general.
-I said you Thatcher was bad –said Ulises.
-When was the last time you made sex? –asked the professor.
Ulises shrank into the corner and did not reply. The professor laughed and approached some girls who were drinking in a table in the main room. They looked uncomfortable and unimpressed but Fuentes continued talking and trying to make them laugh.
-He is animal –said Ulises. Jeremy shrugged his shoulders.
-Where does she live Ulises?
-Lula of course.
-Leave the girl hombre. We have enough imperialistas. They are everywhere. You know what they did to Che Guevara the muy guarros?
-Didn’t the Bolivians get him?
-What do you know hombre? Lula has had enough trouble. Imagine her mother!
Ulises got up and left the Afroson in a trop. Jeremy stayed at the bar drinking more Escudos. After eight or nine of them his vision of reality was blurred and obfuscated.
-That has nothing to do with me! –He screamed at the general direction of the Professor in the other room –I was five years old at the time of the Falklands war. My parents hated it anyways. What’s that got to do with me?!
Fuentes did not answer. He had sat at a table with other girls and was directing the conversation.
-I hate the Argentinians –muttered the barman unexpectedly–I was happy when you started bombing them.
Jeremy stared at the barman and felt like weeping. He did not know where he stood any more or why everyone around him was so angry about it all. He had never been cared at rat’s ass about politics. He avoided the news and made sure he was not affiliated with any political party at university. The only parties he knew were drink-ups, raves, concerts and house gatherings. Why did he even have to think of them? He had not travelled half the way around the world to talk about Thatcher or to listen to the petty squabbles between neighbouring countries. Surely, there were more important things in store for him. Namely Lula, romance, music, love, language, Neruda! Moments later the professor was rejected again and returned to his stool at the bar.
-They love being colonised –he assured as he ordered another beer –its part of their game.
-The minas. Us. All of us.
-We have it in our blood.
-Our indios chucha. Before the Conquistadors, our Indios were taken by the Incas and before that the tribes were takes by Aymaras. And the Spanish? They had to take it from the Moors. It’s always been like that.
-I don’t understand.
-Chucha maestro you know nothing. It’s a mess always. The Incas thought the Spanish were Gods. The Spanish thought the Incas were worse than dogs. You see? No one saw the other and in the end the strongest kills and does not even know what it’s killed. It’s the Greeks fault. Fucking Plato. They created their own dream and anyone who was not in it was an imbecile. And yet the greatest minds have always done it.
-Believe weon. Believe. Once you actually believe there is no way back. That’s why there is always room for negating it all inside of me.
Saying no to everything we know.
-Do you know where Lula is professor?
-No. I like you mad English. I don’t care for the chucha Malvinas and I was never in Colonia dignidad. In verdad, I was not even in Chile in 73. I went to Germany. Germany yes to study my masters. I like the English because they did not go around the planet waving crosses and their penis. They killed and conquered slowly. More patience. I like the English but Lula’s mother’s hate them and you should leave her.
-I didn’t do anything. It’s not my fault he is England with Thatcher.
-If he was in Spain he would be in jail. There is a judge there who hates him. Strange no? The bastardos colonise us, enslave us and now want to help the General pay for his tortures. We should sue the whole of fucking Espana! Bastardos! Get some more drinks!
Jeremy was enraged by the time he left the Afroson. He staggered to the taxi stand to wait for a colectivo but after some minutes he decided he would walk back. He could not stand the deluge of questions and thoughts which precipitated themselves against his cranium the moment he stopped. Walking was the only solution. He had to move, shake his bones about to halt the increasing speed of the words tumbling about in his brain. He had to stumble in the general direction of the house. Where was it? He was sure the Professor was deliberately messing with his vision of reality and humiliating him in the process. Was the story of Lula’s father true? Was Lula’s mother going to hate him? Why would Augusto torture people like that? And for what? For a political perspective? It seemed absurd. Was the pink-cheeked general Juan adored a sadist and a killer? Was Thatcher’s lover electrifying the testicles of communists? What was a communist? A Russian sympathiser? A person who believed in the equal distribution of wealth? A bedlamite? He could not put his finger on it. He walked past two locals who were smoking in a closed shop corner. The boys stared at him menacingly and Jeremy saw one of them fiddle with the insides of his pockets. The street was silent. Traffic had died and there was no one else in the vicinity. Jeremy wondered whether he should feel threatened or blame his prejudice towards darker coloured youths for the sudden acceleration in his heart beat. They wore jeans and leather jackets and smoked cigarettes as they invigilated Jeremy’s trajectory. They were well built and did not see the type that would mess around. In his intoxication Jeremy thought he might have perceived a pointy object pushing through the cloth of one of the youth’s trousers. Was that the weapon of his end? He could not be sure but it did not scare him as much as he would have expected. The drunkenness and the absurdity of the conversation with Fuentes had perched a dark nihilistic cloud over the entirety of existence. If he had to die was that not a moment as fair as any other? At least there was no white General frying him up like a Spanish sardine. He had met Lula and perhaps it was enough. He thought of the Chilean communist and wanted to show her some kind of valour. He wanted to display a version of himself which was not a shrivelled coward from a privileged country. Yes, he was a westerner, he did not know too much about horror and political torture but that he was ready to battle injustice and bullies. He was not going to change pavement. He was decided on unfaltering his direction and walking towards the position of the youths. They continued staring and smoking, hands on their hips. Jeremy lurched passed them clumsily. One of the boys laughed as he stumbled into a parked Chervolet pick-up truck. Jeremy had been too busy preparing his resistance to notice his proximity to the parked vehicle. An acute pain colonised his knee-cap.
-Good night Gringo? –the youth sniggered.
-I am not Gringo –mumbled Jeremy –I am from Leeds for fuck’s sake.
The two boys laughed again.
-Here hombre have beer.
One of the youths extracted a bottle opener from his pocket and flipped the bottletop of an Escudo they kept beside them. Jeremy accepted it.
The boys laughed at Jeremy’s accent and his choice of words.
-Pucha gringo quien te enseno espanol?
Jeremy laughed too. They had massive dark eyes. Nearly as big as the eyes of Lula.