It's been a while since I've written a line. I had the idea of rewriting a movie version (let's see if you can guess). I just sat down today, having finished reading Thomas Wolfe's Story of a Novel and think it brought me some luck because I wrote a little more than I should have, since the idea was not to exceed the limit set here. I hope you will excuse me at least for this occasion.
WITH A POCKETFUL OF POSIES
O flower of love, whose mighty lips suck us to death!
Júlia Aïna was one of those strong, impulsive creatures, possessing an extraordinary but undisciplined vitality, ready to give herself wholeheartedly and with unbridled prodigality to any enterprise, person or object that arouses her sympathies. She thought she had reached the climax of her happiness when the yes vote won victory in the independence referendum held on October 1, 2017 throughout Catalonia. However, what continued from there was a high and low of emotions, between the comings and goings of Spanish politics, which ended in the greatest fear: going home after so many months of absolute rebellion or even ending up in prison.
Júlia would have preferred to die rather than surrender. But human instinct and the natural and youthful desire to reach the unattainable made her believe that the best thing to do was to flee while there was still time. She thought that whatever the course or ups and downs of her existence might have been, whatever mistakes, greed, ignorance or improvidence she might be accused of, her life was somehow beyond the accidents of time, education and circumstance, and that she was as innocent as a child, a river, a torrent or any other force of nature. So it was that, with the presentiment of success in distant lands, she gathered what little she could, made brief arrangements and without saying goodbye to anyone, just on New Year's Eve, she traveled to New York.
In her twenties, tall, about six feet tall, with gangly limbs and rather skinny, Júlia radiated tremendous energy. She swore to herself that the New Year would bring only good, positive and optimistic things, as if she were a child just entering adolescence. Quickly, New York circumstances brought her back to earth. First, she had to find a livelihood; and, at the same time, she had to find a place to live that was not too expensive but did not involve living in some dangerous suburb. She preferred restrictions and discomfort to facing risks that she had only seen on television and, amusingly, in the movies.
She soon discovered that with just one job she could not sustain the right to live, even though it was basically just sleeping, in a 3x2 space. In this way, she attended and cared for a couple of children in the morning; she took them to school, then picked them up and returned home, where she took care of them until 5 pm. From there she worked as a waitress in an Italian restaurant until 11 p.m., when she realized that with that rhythm of life she would not reach 30.
Exhausted and defeated by the city, she arrived at the residence with no desire to do anything but sleep. At the entrance she met by chance one of her neighbors. She was Polish and dressed very elegantly. She had lost her keys and needed to look for a forgotten pin in her house. Júlia looked at her with admiration and envy, because she noticed that she was just out on a spree at that time of day. At that moment she thought that prostitution in New York was paying off. She opened the door of the building and they both entered, but Janka, the Polish neighbor, still had the same problem: the keys were still inside the apartment. So Júlia, shamelessly and without distraction, took a card out of her backpack and swiped it through the crack between the wall and the lock, causing the lock latch to move back and immediately opening the door. Janka hugged her and thanked her. She told her that one day she would invite her to one of her parties; moreover, she pointed out that she had a good figure and a pretty face, that she would earn good money if she wanted to.
Almost a year had passed since her arrival and the conditions of her life only seemed to hold on the edge of worsening. Day after day, with little patience and little courage left to fight her inner self, she pondered the idea of joining the neighbor's nightly spree, Polish and elegant. So, absorbed by discouragement, she hinted to Janka about the possibility of going to these nightly parties. After a couple of days, the Polish woman told her that she could go, that she would have to get a black dress, well cut and refined; then she gave her a brooch and pointed out that she should put it on the top of the dress, as it was like a code to have access to the place. She wrote on a piece of paper the address and a message.
That afternoon, Júlia drove the pair of children home. That day she had less patience to put up with them. She left about fifteen minutes earlier and did not go to the Italian restaurant but went to the avenue of elegant catwalks. She entered one of the stores and the price made her give up the idea. She walked down the street for a while, thinking about what to do. She entered another store. She tried on several dresses and pointed out to the employee that she would buy one, the black one. She carelessly cut a small slit in the lower part of the dress and pulled several of its fine threads. As she approached the cash register, she pointed out to the cashier, as if just noticing the damage to the garment. The employee rang the cashier and she immediately reduced the price to a quarter of its value.
Júlia began to feel optimistic. She boarded a cab to the address indicated on the paper. The place didn't look fancy at all: it was a Chinese restaurant. She showed the paper to the doorman, who immediately moved inside the restaurant. Soon a Chinese man in a chef's outfit came out and asked Júlia to follow him. They walked through the restaurant, past the kitchen and out onto a patio. The Chinese man asked her about her dress. She pointed out that she was carrying it in her backpack. The chef told her to change at once; which she did in the nearby bathroom. Then the Chinese man handed her a small, very fine, tasteful wallet. And he gave her a new address written down on a piece of paper. He asked her not to open the wallet for the world.
Júlia had only 10 dollars in her pocket. The cab charged her 20 to the new address. She walked a few blocks with her backpack on her back. Then she took a cab. When she got to the site she said she would pay on the way out. He heard the cab driver yell, gave him the $10 and ran as fast as he could. The cab driver didn't make a big deal about it and kept going.
Júlia put the backpack in a trash can near the entrance to the site and left, beautiful and elegant, despite the pressing circumstances. She knocked on the front door. A very tall, stocky Russian man opened the door and asked her to show him the pin. He led her down a very long corridor to a rudimentary and ancient elevator, whose doors opened horizontally and had to be closed by hand. However, despite what she expected, the elevator descended. As he descended, a couple of men, also Russians, were waiting for him, and they led him down a small path to what looked like a bare, unfurnished room. There were about twenty or thirty girls there, of every race and color, dressed like her and forming a circle. She understood that she must not break the harmony, gave Janka a sidelong glance and inserted herself as best she could into the circumference of young and beautiful women.
She stood in the circle for about an hour, waiting with absolutely nothing happening. About fifteen minutes later, a door opened and about twenty people in fine, elegant suits came out. They were evaluating the girls. They picked one and pointed out five others. The chosen one paraded with them and they all entered the same way they had initially exited. The other five were given $50 and asked to leave. Then Júlia understood that in order to collect the $1,000 she had to be chosen to enter, which she wished for with all her might. Even having heard the terrified screams of the chosen girl on the other side of the walls.
After half an hour, the same selection panel came out again. After evaluating the girls Júlia was selected and five others were dismissed. She paraded, like the previous one, and entered with the group into a smaller enclosure but with more beautiful walls. She looked around and there was nothing but a coffin in the center of the place. She was then signaled to take off her clothes and get into the box; which she did without much of a start. When she was lying down, she was asked to open her purse as they closed the glass door of the coffin.
A brown recluse spider came rushing out of the satchel. At that moment, Júlia was startled but no one noticed, as everyone was busy starting the betting. Someone pointed to fifty thousand and someone else doubled the bet. Júlia understood that the matter was the chance of life and death. After exactly one minute, Júlia was undaunted and the bets were close to one million. After ten minutes, a few moans and one or two shouts of joy could be heard. Then they opened the glass door and helped Júlia out of the coffin.
As she got out, a man approached her, euphoric, kissed her on the mouth and put $500 in her hand. Then another man took her to a secluded spot and returned her dress. As she dressed, the man took her by the hand and escorted her out. He handed her a wad of $1,000 and said:
-Damn immigrant, one word of this to anyone and I'll kill you.