Carlos Casares: from Vento Ferido (Vigo: Galaxia, 2010) first published 1967
Well, it’s all over now and no odd job man can come and put it right and it is best to keep mum just in case, because they could come back and they might finger you and say, “You come with us now,” which is what they can say, and they take you off, because they can take you, and they put you in that little room and ask you, “Where were you on Saturday at two in the morning?” just to be asking you something, and you don’t know what to say and they take you on a trip and you put up with it because, even though you don’t want to, you put up with it, Eduardo, you put up or you’re lost, you put up like everyone puts up with it, even when afterwards your friends tell you that you haven’t got what it takes to be a man, and if they come to me with that I will eat their hearts out, because everyone is really brave, everyone, but we already saw that when they came in the bar and asked for Red, no one was brave enough to stand up for him even though they were all his friends, but when they said to him, “Red, you come along with us,” no one protested. And now Red is rotting and he was in the wrong, he died for sticking his nose in where it didn’t belong, as we all told him, we gave him good warning mind, “Red, you are going to end up bad, look you are on a path to nowhere,” but he was stubborn and took no notice, because he kept coming back to the idea that all men are equal and we all have rights, yes sir, we all know that much, for God’s sake, even I know that but you can’t talk about it, no sir, you can’t and you have to put up with things and leave rights and cockiness to one side and if they stir you up, let them stir, leave it for the one they are going to take… And it doesn’t do you any good to go there and tell them “Here I am, I’m Red’s brother and I’ve come to ask what you did with my brother,” because I’ll eat the liver of any beggar, it’ll do you no good and they are going to tell you they don’t know, that over there the judge and the others will take you in and tomorrow you appear thrown in the gutter as well. And the one who comes up to you and tells you “He’s not a man, he’s not worthy to be Red’s brother,” tell him to shut it, that life is like that and the one who gives the orders, gives orders and he who doesn’t can’t say anything, I’m telling you, Eduardo, I’m telling you from my heart that they didn’t point the finger at you for anything, nothing, Eduardo, for nothing, because my son is witness to the fact that they said to him, “You have to come with us to arrange a small matter,” and your brother told them that he wouldn’t go, that he was drinking and that he had no small matter to arrange outside and then they took out their pistols and didn’t talk anymore and Red looked at his companions and asked them, “So aren’t there any real men here?” and they were as quiet as the dead since there was nothing else to do if they did not all want to die there, and then Sara came in and asked them, “Where are you taking my man?” but they didn’t reply, because I think they went away in a state, because Red was a real man and they were afraid he would stand up to them. They ordered him to get into the white van and took him off towards the Sarnadoiro mountain. You know the rest. He turned up dead with a bullet in his head. Now it’s over. It’s better to keep quiet. The doctor also kept quiet when they took the son to him. These are things that happen in life and amongst men, because we are like wolves they way we go after one another, like wolves, Eduardo, I’m telling you, like wolves.
Carlos Casares (1941-2002) brought out the collection Vento Ferido in 1967. There are twelve extremely short stories in the slim volume that are somewhere between poetry and narrative. They come in the tradition of the short prose poems of Castelao in Cousas. Like Castelao, Casares has a bleak aesthetic vision that faithfully records human experience in its darker moments.
Like Wolves makes the reader feel complicit in the argument for cowardice. In the original there are no speech marks and the text runs continuously from one point to another giving a real sense of the urgent pleading of the speaker. I put the speech marks in to avoid confusion although it is, frankly, better without them. The vulgar vernacular way of speaking is a faithful representation of the way people speak in a bar in a small village. Perhaps the translation needs to be translated again: I can imagine it working in the dialect of a Western, for example, where the fearful town folk don’t know how to deal with the bullies on the big ranch.