[Image Credit: “Common Space” by Cintra Vidal]
Translated by Laura Vena
She found them in a shop window, mounted on a metal display with others, which, even upon close inspection, did not provoke the same emotion in her. The lenses were semi-oval and enormous, perhaps too much for her small face. The frames were made of titanium, according to the verbiage printed on a marketing postcard which listed the properties of the metal as: lightweight, extremely durable, resistant to corrosion and of poor conductivity, which prevented the glasses from absorbing too much heat, in case they were forgotten in the car for a couple of hours, or more in the summer. She asked the clerk behind the cash register if he could show her those. No, the others, she indicated to the salesman when he grabbed a pair by mistake next to the ones she had asked for. She secured them onto the bridge of her nose and onto her ears and then went over to a mirror to decide if they suited the shape of her face. You look like Jackie Onassis, the employee told her. She seemed flattered by the comment and decided to buy them. While her credit card was swiped through the slot of a reader, she thought they would be appropriate to use during a wake, especially to cover her eyes, swollen from crying. When leaving the place with the shopping bag in her hand, she started to list in her head family and friends who were suffering from a terminal illness or who in her opinion practiced a somewhat unorthodox lifestyle: drugs, unprotected sex, or extreme sports. She managed to list six names before reaching the parking lot.
All About My Son
Neither his father nor mother dared to visit their son’s apartment for two months following his unexpected death. The accident occurred early in the morning. According to police experts, the driver lost control of his car when one of his front tires was pierced by a pointy piece of metal that some truck full of junk must have dropped when they drove over a pothole. The father blamed the government for not using taxpayer money to repair the unacceptable condition of state bridges and roads. The mother preferred to remain silent, immersed in the darkness of her bedroom, until her son’s landlord called to ask them to clean out the apartment because someone else had shown interest in renting it. They showed up the next day. They brought corrugated boxes, garbage bags, adhesive tape, markers, twine and several rolls of bubble wrap to pack ceramic figurines, framed photographs and other fragile objects. She asked him to take care of the master bedroom because she didn’t want to see his shirts still hanging on the closet rod or his toothbrush on the sink. She was terrified by the possibility that his bed sheets and pillowcases still smelled of his sweat and scalp. The father found in one of the night stands a collection of pornographic DVDs. On the covers were naked men with their pecs smeared with dust and oil, embracing, standing beside a racecar or holding a wrench or other power tool. On others were women with disheveled hair and caked on makeup, their amazingly large breasts exposed, but with penises and testicles instead of female genitalia. He decided not to mention it to his wife. He packed up the DVDs in a black plastic bag and when he had the chance he threw them in one of the dumpsters located in the alley behind the building.
Blind Man’s Bluff
The country’s most successful talk show host informs his audience that his next guest after the commercial break will be a renowned tamer of beasts. Ninety seconds later, the floor manager gestures to the host, indicating that the break is over and they are back on the air. The show is transmitted live on national TV and reaches an average of fifteen million viewers each night, in addition to the three hundred spectators in studio during the broadcast. When his name is announced, the animal trainer enters, pulling behind him a bear—some variety of North American Grizzly—who seems irritated to be welcomed onstage by strobe lights pulsing on and off at a rate of once every second, like a camera flash momentarily freezing every movement of those it illuminates. The bear, confused by the commotion and agitated by the audience applause, hurls himself onto the host. The lights come on. The host appears with his facial muscles exposed: without nose, without skin, without eyes and without lips. He walks, disoriented, with his arms stretched out, as if a thick bandage is obstructing the vision he no longer possesses.
Luis Panini is a Mexican-American author born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1978. He holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Architecture and is the author of four novels: Esquirlas (2014), El uranista (2014), La hora mala (2016) and Los Cronopolios I. Las Espirales del Tiempo (2016); three collections of short fiction: Terrible anatómica (2009), Mala fe sencional (2010), and Función de repulsa (2015) and the book of poetry Destrucción del amante (2016).
Laura Vena is a writer, artist, curator and translator whose work has appeared in Bombay Gin, Super Arrow, Tarpaulin Sky, In Posse Review, The Dirty Fabulous, Antennae and elsewhere. She is the winner of the 1913 Press First Book Award by John Keene for her manuscript, x/she: stardraped, which will be published in 2017.