of the seagulls stayed motionless on the sand waiting for the company of the others
that were fluttering over the seashore. I never fancied birds -- birds always
gave me a strange feeling of disgust, but there I was, observing the curious white
body with gray folded wings that kept still before the vast Atlantic. The sound
of the breaking waves was soft; you could compare the noise to a slow and weak
swish. As the waves wobbled back, the thin film of water that remained on the
surface produced a flashing reflection of the seagull. When I finally turned to
return to the hotel, I saw him walking in my direction, oblivious to my presence.
I could have stopped him, but I was afraid to interrupt.
name was Sal. I met him at The Bar, on 4th Street and 2nd Avenue in
New York. I spent that night with him. And the next day. I was immediately attracted
to this other Puerto Rican who, like me, had recently moved to New York from San
Juan. We even made a date to go to an Arts Exhibition at the Guggenheim
in Soho. He arrived very late and didnt like the show, a Contemporary Japanese
Art compendium. He said it was trivial. He then talked about his paintings and
murals, which I never had the opportunity to see.
vanished after a week.
had not seen Sal until that afternoon at the beach. I was thinking about this
when he put his hand on my shoulder as he approached the bar to ask for a drink.
I moved aside so that he could speak to the bartender. And when the bottle of
beer was served on the counter, I said hello, casually, as to not raise confrontation.
I was almost sure his graze had been premeditated, but his empty face proved differently.
I then called him by his name. "Sal," I said. "Its me. øTe
acuerdas?" Finally, it came to mind. "Your voice," he said. "Your
voice is unmistakable, I remember now. Yes, its you."
it was me. I was surprised by the fact that he remembered my last name. We remained
facing each other and this is how we began to talk about the past. He was troubled
when we met, his mother had been ill "Lung cancer," he said.
"She died shortly after my return. I live and work here now." He repeated
several times that I must have hated him because he had disappeared, but my answer
was always the same, I didnt hate anyone, it was impossible to hate him.
He had struck me as a very unusual person, and I have to admit that I spent some
time trying to explain his sudden absence. But then, I almost didnt want
to think anymore.
language was unconstrained, it was easy to understand what he was feeling, what
he wanted. "I want to kiss you, and spend the night with you," he said.
His dark eyes resembled the eyes of lost people, strong, impenetrable, remote.
And in those eyes, there was something missing, as if he were longing for something
undefined and obscure, not yet revealed to him. "You dont know how
much I regret not calling you. I was intimidated by your discipline." All
this he said, in those words, and I listened with the same generosity as before.
It did not signify whether he felt sorry for not calling me or not, or whether
I missed him or not, but rather that he wanted me to believe he still felt something
for me. He should have known that he didnt need excuses, I never liked seeing
people explaining themselves. One word was enough for me to get the picture, and
in one word, too, I usually made my point. I should have told him. Three years
passed since I met him. In any case, what relevance could our conversation have?
I was impressed
by his low and peremptory voice. It was like before, and it was like that then,
in my room at the Atlantic Beach Hotel. His deep voice led to destruction, to
a form of grief; he made me feel vulnerable.
my eyes," he said. "Make sure its tight."
I said. As I blindfolded him with a black handkerchief, I could smell his perspiration.
did you stay?"
big city, I suppose."
"You dont have to go back to New York." His voice quivered. "Why
dont you stay?"
dont know how to live here anymore."
San Juan too small for you all of the sudden? What, then?"
was lying on the bed, and I felt anxious, I wished to act upon an uncontrollable
desire to afflict his body. I wanted to hit the young bronze body and leave marks
of pain, hit that body with the same agony and sadness I had suffered years ago,
since he disappeared. I opened his shirt, my fingers moving slowly. I remembered
the old sound of a blow on his chest, the first time it almost hurt him too much.
Then the other sound, the sound of a whip, hitting his skin. But the red and purplish
marks werent there anymore; not a print was on his soft skin. I continued
opening the shirt. I remembered other marks, other blows, hard, their sounds so
hollow. Further down, I saw the opening of his trousers. I pulled them down. His
sex was swollen, so hot with blood, so fragile. On top of that skin where I had
placed my hands before, in a long strong blow, hitting so hard until he begged
for mercy, I saw the first drops of moisture. I embraced his body with affection.
I wouldnt know how to explain. I kissed his lips and wished I could stay
there, quietly on top, listening to the lazy sounds of my lovers slumber.
want you to hit me as hard as you can," he commanded.
and in my voice I tasted envy.
heard the first words as the light was beginning to seep through the curtains.
"We would make a great pair." Then, he asked me to stay, to spend the
rest of the day with him.
could see a few families in the restaurant on Avenida Ashford, some tourists,
maybe nothing. "You kiss like a lover," he said. He was right. I could
not resist his face entranced during our lovemaking. His face belonged exclusively
to me, and then in our sleep, the feeling of his convalescent hand inside mine.
But I didnt say anything. Words would have shaded the moment and I was afraid
I would begin to expect something from him, perhaps too soon. What must be, must
be. I looked at the waiters walking busily to satisfy the customers.
know you dont have to go back," he said at last. "You could stay
was hot that afternoon, so hot you could see the steam with a mixture of saltpeter
and dust rising above the streets. We walked together for a while in complete
silence, time passing inactively, until we reached his car. Then he sat quietly
on the front seat, while from the outside, I admired his profile, sensible and
pensive. I remembered the solitary bird I had seen the previous afternoon at the
beach. And there I was, Sals figure vanishing again, unrecognizable as he
drove off, like when I saw the bird flying away to join the others.