years she had wondered why Raul hadn't announced his passionate
love for her. But tonight, in that very room, he would. The woman
was anxious. From her oaken bedroom, she stared out of the window
into the gloominess of the night, awaiting a lone black horse
that would be ridden by him. Raul was a servant of her father's
plantation and had been for years. And for years they had both
been in a forbidden love. Many were the times when they had exchanged
looks of passion. Words or gestures couldn't measure the love
they had, and one look was enough. The moon above was clear and
full, and she watched the trail once more. Then she heard the
galloping of a horse and she shut the curtains and waited. Her
heart beat fast, or so it seemed. Sweat formed on the curves of
her breasts and she breathed in and out heavily as she awaited
the man that now climbed the stairs silently towards her bedroom.
And the door was opened in a quick flash of lightning, and there,
in the doorway, stood Raul. Raul stormed into the room, his black
robes and boots, wet from the rain and mud filled, his face like
a hungry tiger
lusting for her. He had a long mustache worthy
of only those that had traveled to the mouth of the Nile, adventurers
of old and deep, blue, penetrating eyes that clashed against flowing
dark hair. He neared her, he looked at her eyes, fiery passionate
eyes, and he kissed her hard.
lay Annabelle sighing in a dreamy glee as Raul took Ramona. She
moved her sofa closer to the television set, her eyes never peeling
off from it. Now, Raul and Ramona were on the bed. Raul twirled
Ramona's sweat ridden hair, a stamped cliché from every
soap opera Annabelle had seen. Now came the moment of climax for
this week's final episode. Ramona's father came bursting into
the room with the plantation guard.
on," he said, angered, pointing at Raul. Ramona burst into
tears, and Raul, half-naked, reached out for his sword. "Arrest
Indian guardsmen ran towards the naked man, and the naked man
forced himself to a fight.
clutched the sweaty bed sheets whilst crying. The battle erupted
inside the bedroom, but was quickly stopped when one of the guardsmen
kicked Raul's head and slammed him to the ground. Ramona's father
was a very heavy man. A long moustache ran down his chin, and
his deep dark eyes scanned the room.
traitorous scum," he said as he grabbed Raul's neck and pulled
on him to stand. "Bind him."
the dramatic music took a dire tone as they bound Raul's body
with ropes and threw him in the back of a two-horse driven carriage,
and naked Ramona wept as it sped away. Her father's gaze of fury
now turned towards her.
name is Tristin Espada, and by God I will see to you later!"
he spat and left the alcove. The end credits rolled by. The opera
was over for the day.
was left in awe and shock, and she threw the controller at the
television, cursing. Tears of anger ran down her wrinkled cheeks.
It shattered on the ground and she cursed. Then she ran towards
the shattered piece of hardware and tried to put it back to no
use, so she deposited it in a small trash bin and headed for the
pantry, where she kept a dozen or more backups. Upon opening the
pantry, a flurry of remote controllers dropped from it and battered
on the ground, but she did not mind. She gleefully removed the
plastic cover on it.
with a new controller in hand, she headed back to the sofa and
plopped down onto it. Annabelle's life consisted of soap operas;
ever since her husband and son had left her all she had done was
sitting around all day in her trusty sofa, surfing
each and every channel for soap operas. There were the Mexican
soap operas, the Venezuelan ones, the realistic Brazilian ones,
the American ones and even some good old fashioned Victorian British
ones. Her friends were the lovers, her enemies the villains, her
acquaintances the maids, her family were those that lived on the
other side of the television screen. Her friends were the perfect
friends, they were interesting, entertaining and never betrayed
her, always there at six o'clock in the afternoon and others at
seven, and the last troupe at nine, and they were from different
parts of the world, also. Yes, she had everything she needed
but now they were gone until tomorrow and she stared blankly at
the television set with old gray eyes, so hollow. Surfing the
channels quickly, she got tired of it. She longed to see what
had happened to Raul, she longed to see what will happen to Ramona,
she longed to see Raul's second coming and taking of Ramona, and
the always happy ending the soap operas offered. But they wouldn't
come today, so once again, she was left with her sad life. Her
eyes were moist, her belly protruded from underneath a folded
blouse, her hair sweaty and unwashed. She no longer cared for
herself, or her apartment for that matter, as the mess of remote
controllers that had dropped from the pantry still lay there and
the cat still meowed from hunger.
walls were dirty beyond washing as a long time had transpired
since the last time she had smiled. During these idle times memories
came back, memories from not so long ago when she was married
and had a beautiful son. They made her cry, these moments, but
her tears were zombie-like as she still surfed from channel to
channel, seeking the perfect soap scene. Her husband had run away,
taking her only son with him. The police had undergone a great
investigation and had even reported the kidnapping to the central
offices. Private detectives had been dispatched to no avail, and
the case had been suddenly dropped. Both, the father and son,
had been presumed dead, but Annabelle knew better. They had quarreled
big that night, mostly due to monetary problems. Her husband had
called her "an old fat cheat" and she had called him
just a "bastard", she didn't know thoughif her
son had heard all of the fight. Maybe, she thought, after all,
on TV little boys always heard their parents quarrel. Her husband
had gotten madder that particular night than the nights before;
he even slammed the top of the table with both of his fists and
cursed obscenities at her. She had wanted to move, to move to
a better place, but he didn't, he wanted to stay and work things
out there in the big city. She knew that he felt he was a failure
to his family, but she also knew that he had not been. The fight
had ended abruptly with a very cold threat.
you ever call me a bastard you hear, you bitch? I will leave here
with Mario under my arms and you will never see us again."
then she had taken the threat lightly by calling him a bastard
once more, which infuriated him.
warned you," he had said. That was when she had started screaming
loudly. The man hit her face hard and sent her plummeting to the
ground. Semi-conscious, all she had heard was the faint screaming
of her child and the broken footsteps of her maddened husband
as he left the apartment, then, blackness.
memories caused her to sob loudly as she changed the channels
hoping with all her strength that something interesting on TV
might pop up. But no lives in manors and no lives of the rich
and famous appeared, just static. It was then that she let the
controller drop to the ground and fell into a trance. The static
on the television set cast a white gloom against the darkened
back wall. Tears were running down her cheeks; her dream was long
longthere was a sudden knock
on the door and she fell out of the trance. At first she hesitated
on getting up from the sofa to answer the door, something interesting
might have popped up anytime on the television, after all. But
then again her neighbors had been on her for a long time now,
trying to move her out of her apartment and into a place where
they could "take very special care with her". Her reaction
to this was: "I don't need any care. I have all that I need
here." And they had left her completely alone for some time,
but it seemed that they were back. She was halfway to the door
when she thought she heard a snort coming from the hallway outside.
A slight hint of curiosity, something she hadn't felt in months,
enveloped her. She had the notion of opening the door to find
a lost puppy, a grown dog, a sick animal or even the postman this
late at night; the snort must have been caused by a living being,
after all. When she came to the door and turned the doorknob and
pulled the door back
she faced a man
and a horse.
gasped. The horse whinnied loudly. The man hushed it and then
turned towards her.
was a man whose face was hidden behind the darkness of a cowl.
He spoke a mixture of English with a Spanish accent and he was
dressed wholly in black. Though he was fully dressed, Annabelle
could notice that underneath all those clothes was a perfectly
formed body. The horse itself was as black as the night. It stood
silently in the middle of the hallway, the hallway lights shining
on its black fur.
walked backwards and the man pressed forward in strong and confident
come to you, my love," he said in a trademarked manly voice.
"I've come to you
my dear Ramona." And he lowered
his cowl. And there stood Raul. She was flabbergasted. Was it
a joke played upon her by her neighbors? She didn't know. Was
the actor that played Raul in town? She didn't know. But who wouldn't
notice a horse walking around a hallway in a no-pets-allowed apartment
building? She was flabbergasted and also paralyzed by the event.
The man tried to touch her, to calm her. She was in a trance of
confusion and passion as the man kissed her neck passionately.
His moustache tickled her neck, and she acted. She kissed him
back passionately and before she knew they were rolling on the
floor, door still open, horse still standing silent in the middle
of the hall and clothes coming off from their bodies.
now laid on the floor breathing heavily, the man on her, playing
with her sweaty hair and she still confused. But she was not Ramona,
no, she was Annabelle! What had happened? Had she gone terribly
mad? If so, then so be it. She had Raul. She happened to glance
at the glowing digital clock on the wall. It was two past three
in the morning. They had been together all night, and no other
tenants had noticed the horse, the open door or the mysterious
man in her apartment. Where they all in such a deep sleep? It
was strange; she grew nervous.
the man said, whispering lightly into her ear, "your father
disapproves of our relationship, but I, Raul de la Tosca, will
prove him otherwise. I shall fight him if I have to." Raul
angrily shook a fist in the air.
melted, but then senses of reality hit her. What if this man was
a lunatic? Would she be killed that same night? What if
if he was here, then it meant
it meant that soon she would hear more horses coming and footsteps
from across the hall, the clanking of metal cuffs and rapiers,
and the visage of three men and one angry father on the shadow
of the doorframe. Yes! It happened. The men on the doorway wore
fierce looks, especially the fatter one. He wore a dark look on
his face, one of anger and was staring intensively at both figures
on the floor; he also had a sharp rapier on his hip, which he
instantly unsheathed when he recognized the man that lay next
he muttered angrily, hatefully, spit coming out of that only syllable
and he continued, "fiend! Infidel! As I gave you the opportunity
to end your slavery! And you pay me with this?! You pay me with
the bedding of my virginal daughter?! Trying to rob us of the
purity of God, slave?!"
mouth gaped wide in surprise and fear. This was all happening,
no imagination, no white box, no paid cable or Mexican food commercials.
Raul got up and faced the man. The man's bodyguards pressed upon
him; they were Indians, or so they seemed, slaves to the man who
held the sharp rapier. Each one was dressed in the slave clothing
the soap opera portrayed and wore the same features as the extras
that played the slaves on the opera.
owe no one, Tristin Espada. I owe no one," he said with a
sly grin. The man contorted his face angrily.
him," he ordered and the slaves were put into action. One
of them punched Raul in the ribs while the other grabbed his hands,
trying to bind him. Annabelle had gotten up from the floor and
had hidden underneath the kitchen table. While the battle roared
her white naked features were a silhouette against the mighty
events. She grimaced as one of the men broke a crystal vase, water
splashing on the wooden floor. Raul's muscles bulged; he was agitated.
He crushed the hand of one of the men and the man slumped to the
ground reeling in pain. Then Raul took the man's cuffs and slammed
the other Indian in the face. There was only one left, Annabelle
saw from her hiding place. This one got the upper hand and slammed
the remaining crystal vase on Raul's head, sending him to the
ground. There, Tristin Espadaher supposed father for this
episodetook out his rapier and placed it on Raul's throat.
him," he said coldly. "Arrest him for treason."
remaining Indian nodded and wrung his cuffs around Raul's wrists.
Raul turned towards her and followed out of script.
love you, Ramona. I will come to you! I came to you once today!
I will come to you twice if need be! Or thri"
Espada slammed the tip of his rapier against Raul's temple, making
him reel back in pain and making blood trickle from the side of
talk for prisoners," he said and smiled sarcastically. Raul
lay on the floor, heaving, his naked chest rising and falling
rapidly. Annabelle still hid, naked, under the dining room table.
It was then that Espada did the expected.
him to the brig," he said while he walked around the small
apartment, his boots sodden with mud and his footsteps sounding
heavy and loud. He stopped when he saw the quivering Ramona. He
pointed at her fiercely and said, "And you, Ramona. My name
is Tristin Espada, and by God I will see you later!"
he turned around, ordered the Indian to carry the prisoner and
went out the door, taking Raul's horse with him and his horses
too, down the hallway, until the ding of the elevator was heard,
then, the closing of the elevator door and the loud revving as
the machine went down with excess weight
to the brig.
basement," she whispered in her nakedness, feeling the stiff
and cold breeze of death around her apartment. "That's the
brig. I can save Raul."
the first time in a long time, Annabelle felt important. She quickly
put on her old clothes and armed herself with what she found:
a kitchen knife. Then she headed out the door, leaving it open,
and running down the hallway, resisting the urges to wake up her
neighbors. Somehow she felt she was the only one in that pocket
dimension especially created for her. She reached the elevator
and went inside, rapidly pressing the buttons that lead to the
basement. The elevator whirred normally once morehaving
no excess weightand played the annoyingly good jazz elevator
music. She gripped the knife tightly, not knowing what she would
find when the doors opened. When the elevator finally hit the
lowest ground lever, it opened normally and she stared into the
darkness of the warehouse-like basement.
walked two steps forward out of the elevator when she heard the
tattling snort of the horseswhich were probably tied and
sleeping by nowand the laughter of men. The basement was
full of old shelves stacked with empty paint cans, rolls of paper
and what not that reached up to the ceiling, which was thirty
feet high above her. It felt like going through a maze or a cave
at first; she had never visited her building's basement before.
She followed the sounds, and they grew louder and nearer as she
walked. Then suddenly there was the hint of a small light, perhaps
a fire made from old burnt papers. She stopped right there, and
she saw the small makeshift camp the protagonists had made. There
was Tristin Espada, laughing his head off with his Indian slave,
speaking of conquests of long ago, and the Spanish Crusades, and
worst of all
the treatment Tristin himself would give Ramona
for betraying him and her chastity.
will ban her from inheritance," he said, "and I will
personally make sure she is institutionalized in a nut-house.
That way the family name will be clear. The wench."
would a woman of a clichéd soap opera do at times like
she whispered, loud enough to be heard. The men of the camp stopped
their conversation, and she stepped out into the light of their
I am so sorry I soiled the family's reputation, I shall put myself
in a convent, and never shall you hear from me again
father." she said and wandered aimlessly towards Espada.
Tristin looked at her, confusion beating him hard.
say, eh?" he said. The Indian chuckled. Espada lowered his
head for a moment and then raised it. His eyes seemed faintly
will never call me father again. You shall call me Mr. Espada.
No more. I shall never hear from you or see you again, are we
clear on that?" Espada said, calm and stern, as a man bred
into a very calculated society would say.
it is so," Annabelle replied, her voice taking a high note
of sadness and irony, "please, will you grant me one last
hesitated, raising his head and gulping loudly, then staring at
his companion. He nodded and went to her, putting his arms around
turn had come. The weapon had been concealed very well enough
not to be seen. Now the knife shone with the red blood of Espada,
her supposed father. He groaned loudly. The Indian got up from
his seating and stared curiously.
was the last thing Espada said, and he dropped dead. Annabelle
was left with a bloody knife and a bloody dress. She had never
killed a man before
the damned weapon now!"
the damned weapon!"
cop had appeared from nowhere. He stood where the Indian had stood
once. The fire had gone away; the horses were not there. Annabelle
(or Ramona?) stared confused at her surroundings. Her hands trembled
and the knife went tumbling to the ground. But where Espada's
body had beenthere was another body, a different one. This
one did not have a rapier or a black robe, but a set of brown
work pants and brown work suit. It/He wore glasses, round rimmed
and very heavy looking, and from its/his belly protruded a gaping
wound, showing its/his innards. Annabelle gasped, this was not
Espada: this was another man. The policeman signaled into the
darkness and she was bathed in the light of a dozen flashlights,
policemen. She stared blankly at nothingness for a moment as they
cuffed her; she was out of her mind. She only heard the sole conversation:
the neighbors heard strange sounds last night and they sent two
voluntary tenantsgood friends of hers, by the wayto
take a look at her. They knocked on the door, but she wouldn't
answer. They could only hear the television inside play real loud
and her laughter. They thought that she was happy, so she wouldn't
mind if they barged in to check on her. She's been really nutty
these days, you see
only watching television. Her whole
family died off and that was the only thing she could do, poor
thing. Anyways, they barged in, right? And she attacked them with
a knife, killing the two of them. Their bodies are upstairs; it's
wholly a murder scene up there. The third one that's lying here
is her shrink. He was supposed to take her in today, but he found
the bloody murder scene and ran
she followed after him and
you see: grisly stuff. Ah well, let's go catch lunch.
I hear they're serving a good fish sandwich over at Barlaby's."
hurled their cameras over their backs so the weight wouldn't bother
them and put their notebooks under their arms, and she heard as
they walked away.
" she mumbled. And she was told to be quiet
while they sorted out the paperwork.
" she said. And she was told that Raul had been
a product of her psychosis.
they took her away, to the brig, where she would hurt no more.
And to this day she still waits for Raul to save her. But she
keeps waiting, and that episode never comes, nor does the happy