PEPE’S HENS (Part III)

I ran without stopping until I got to the room where we were staying in and my sister began to laugh at me because I still had foam on my head and without allowing me to say a word, she grabbed me by the arm and led me back to the water stack where while using a washbowl she began to pour lots of water down my head, saying; “This is because you fear water and by doing this maybe you will learn how to bathe yourself.”

Mrs. Lola was still straining the beans and when she saw what was happening she started laughing out loud and while looking at my sister she said; “Hey girl, I’m preparing a hen for dinner tonight, I’m going to put it to brown on the coals and your husband already paid me for dinner “

My sister did not answer and Mrs. Lola continued talking, “I bought the hen from my friend Pepe. He is Sacristan of the church and always has the best hens in town. Pepe sells the best hens in town. Those hens are very fat because he raises them near the river in a small valley where Pepe travels every other day and when Pepe returns from the valley, I hurry to buy the biggest and fattest of all the hens he has available to sell.

After listening to Mrs. Lola, my sister asked with a curious attitude, “Do you think that your friend Pepe could sell me two hens? I am leaving on Saturday and I would like to take two hens to cook them in my house”

“Hey girl, you’re lucky,” replied Mrs. Lola. “Today at night Pepe goes on a trip to his farm he walks all night so that nobody can follow him and so nobody knows where the farm is and nobody can steal his hens. Pepe always comes to say goodbye to me at around nine o’clock at night before leaving, so I am going to ask him about the two hens you want.”

My sister thanked Mrs. Lola and walked away, I stayed a few more seconds standing by the side of the water stack. Enough time for Mrs. Lola to talk to me, bringing her round face close to mine as she began to move her eyes in an exorbitant way, while saying to me, “Sometimes scrawny boys like you taste better than the fat hens Pepe sells.”

Without intending to, I took a deep breath and ran to the room and my mind began to wander amidst fictitious images that I invented where I clearly saw Mrs. Lola biting my arms and chewing on my bones. When I entered the room, I quickly changed and said nothing. I also avoided eating lunch by saying that my stomach still hurt from all the vomiting I did earlier.

The afternoon went by slowly, while my sister slept with my little niece on her bed, I simply tried to erase the images that I had in my mind, thinking that Mrs. Lola could not eat a real person. The hours passed by and I started to get bored. Suddenly I heard Mrs. Lola’s shouting that dinner was ready. I immediately remembered that we would eat a hen for dinner and decided that I wasn’t hungry either.

When my brother-in-law returned home, we all went to the dining room, and luckily there were several breads on the table in a plastic basket. The smell of the breads was very pleasant to my sense of smell and after saying, “I was not very hungry” I took the two loaves of bread from the basket and I told my sister that I would eat them in the patio because it was too hot for me in the dining room. My sister looked at me and said, “Take a cup of chocolate so you can have it with the bread.” I hurried and left the dining room. I made my way to the patio and the backyard, sat on a large rock and started eating my first loaf. Then I heard some loud noises coming from the patio so, I stood up and started looking around, but I couldn’t see anything. The leaves on the trees were totally still. There were many shadows produced by the branches of the trees, which were reflected on the ground due to the moonlight. The farthest part of the patio was completely dark, the lamp that was close above my head was not very bright and couldn’t light the entire patio.

The noises at the bottom of the patio became much louder, totally capturing my attention. It looked like a hen was flapping its wings or spinning on the ground. Suddenly a shadow began to move towards me, I wanted to run away, but my legs did not respond. As the shadow moved away from the darkness and closer to the light, I could clearly distinguish that it was a person. I was filled with fear and my legs trembled, when I saw a fat man come out of the darkness, dressed in a dark robe, he had no hair, his face was round, with a lot of fat on his neck and cheeks, the expression of his eyes were angry, he walked slowly and he looked agitated, so his mouth was open, showing that he was missing some teeth.

When he stopped in front of me, I dropped the bread that fell to the ground. I was impressed by its height and his unpleasant odor like a dead animal. For a moment I felt like he was going to hurt me, but my sister came out at that moment and asked, “Have you eaten yet? Are you sure you don’t want to eat hen?”

At that moment the mysterious man spoke, “Is Mrs. Lola here?” The sound of his voice was very deep as if it came from the bottom of a very large hole. My sister replied, “Yes, she went to the kitchen.” Then the man said, “My name is Pepe, and I am here because someone wants to order two hens for Saturday and because I always come to greet Mrs. Lola every time, I go to get more hens.” Then, without waiting for a response, he started walking towards the kitchen where Mrs. Lola was.

I was surprised that my sister didn’t say anything about the foul smell that Pepe had. But she said to me, “What a fool, you already dropped the loaves to the ground, now you are going to eat them with dirt on them because there are no more loaves left” while she pulled on my hair and then she just went back to the dining room.

I picked up the loaves, rested the cup of chocolate on the rock where I had been sitting, and started walking towards the kitchen. When I got there, I slowly approached one of the windows and I stood on a piece of wood that was there to prop one up so one could look inside. The first thing I saw were the flames from the fire that came out from under the Comal where the tortillas were being cooked. Then I stretched a little more by standing on my tippy toes, on the piece of wood and what I saw made me open my eyes wide…

 

TO BE CONTINUED…

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