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domingo, 29 de abril de 2007

The Slaughterhouse Yard by Ana Quiroga (El corralón)

Today it is a square in Barracas, with its slide and its sandpit, just opposite the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and two blocks from the motorway that takes traffic away southwards.
In the past it was just an uncultivated, unpopulated plot of land with no clear boundaries. Then it became the dirty crowded yard of a slaughterhouse, where cattle were selected for the abattoir. Then once more it
became an abandoned plot, with metres of waste land. People still knew it as The Slaughterhouse Yard that early morning when two small boys, craning their necks in the midst of the crowd, were witnesses to slaughter, but this time of men.
The governor had decided to celebrate the national holiday by executing, somewhere in the open air, several enemies of the people: two common murderers and five political prisoners. It was agreed that they should be put to death by having their heads cut off with an enormous razor-sharp knife, just like the knives butchers once used in The Slaughterhouse.
That morning, the two boys watched the seven condemned men die, one after the other, to the screams of horror and helplessness of several of the women and the base satisfaction of the friends of the government.
One of the boys, who had shinned up a post, was imagining that the dead died with the infinite glory of heroes: among them, his father too was to die. The other boy, eyes staring behind the figure of his mother, was trembling with fear. On the shaky wooden scaffold stood his father: with serene skill he was wielding the knife.
Translated by Lawrence Wheeler