Story Classic: Death Constant Beyond Love-Gabriel Garcia Marquez-translation by Gregory Rabbasa and J.S. Bernstein/Lekhni-September-October 17

Senator
Onesimo
Sanchez
had
six
months
and
eleven
days
to
go
before
his
death
when
he
found
the
woman
of
 his
life.
He
met
her
in
Rosal
del
Virrey,
an
illusory
village
which
by
night
was
the
furtive
wharf
for
smugglers’
 ships,
and
on
the
other
hand,
in
broad
daylight
looked
like
the
most
useless
inlet
on
the
desert,
facing
a
sea
that
 was
arid
and
without
direction
and
so
far
from
everything
no
one
would
have
suspected
that
someone
capable
of
 changing
the
destiny
of
anyone
live
there.
Even
its
name
was
a
kind
of
joke,
because
the
only
rose
in
that
village
 was
being
worn
by
Senator
Onesimo
Sanchez
himself
on
the
same
afternoon
when
he
met
Laura
Farina.
 
 It
was
an
unavoidable
stop
in
the
electoral
campaign
he
made
every
four
years.
The
carnival
wagons
had
arrived
 in
the
morning.
Then
came
the
trucks
with
the
rented
Indians
who
were
carried
into
the
towns
in
order
to
 enlarge
the
crowds
at
public
ceremonies.
A
short
time
before
eleven
o’clock,
along
with
the
music
and
rockets
 and
jeeps
of
the
retinue,
the
ministerial
automobile,
the
color
of
strawberry
soda,
arrived.
Senator
Onesimo
 Sanchez
was
placid
and
weatherless
inside
the
air‐conditioned
car,
but
as
soon
as
he
opened
the
door
he
was
 shaken
by
a
gust
of
fire
and
his
shirt
of
pure
silk
was
soaked
in
a
kind
of
light‐colored
soup
and
he
felt
many
years
 older
and
more
alone
than
ever.
In
real
life
he
had
just
turned
forty‐two,
had
been
graduated
from
Gootingen
 with
honours
as
a
metallurgical
engineer,
and
was
an
avid
reader,
although
without
much
reward,
of
badly
 translated
Latin
classics.
He
was
married
to
a
radiant
German
woman
who
had
given
him
five
children
and
they
 were
all
happy
in
their
home,
he
the
happiest
of
all
until
they
told
him,
three
months
before,
that
he
would
be
 dead
forever
by
next
Christmas.
 
 While
the
preparations
for
the
public
rally
were
being
completed,
the
senator
managed
to
have
an
hour
alone
in
 the
house
they
had
set
aside
for
him
to
rest
in.
Before
he
lay
down
he
put
in
a
glass
of
drinking
water
the
rose
he
 had
kept
alive
all
across
the
desert,
lunched
on
the
diet
cereals
that
he
took
with
him
so
as
to
avoid
the
repeated
 portions
of
fried
goat
that
were
waiting
for
him
during
the
rest
of
the
day,
and
he
took
several
analgesic
pills
 before
the
time
prescribed
so
that
he
would
have
the
remedy
ahead
of
the
pain.
Then
he
put
the
electric
fan
 close
to
the
hammock
and
stretched
out
naked
for
fifteen
minutes
in
the
shadow
of
the
rose,
making
a
great
 effort
at
metal
distraction
so
as
not
to
think
about
death
while
he
dozed.
Except
for
the
doctors,
no
one
knew
 that
he
had
been
sentenced
to
a
fixed
term,
for
he
had
decided
to
endure
his
secret
all
alone,
with
no
change
in
 his
life,
not
because
of
pride
but
out
of
shame.
 
 He
felt
in
full
control
of
his
will
when
he
appeared
in
public
again
at
three
in
the
afternoon,
rested
and
clean,
 wearing
a
pair
of
coarse
linen
slacks
and
a
floral
shirt,
and
with
his
soul
sustained
by
the
anti‐pain
pills.
 Nevertheless,
the
erosion
of
death
was
much
more
pernicious
than
he
had
supposed,
for
as
he
went
up
onto
the
 platform
he
felt
a
strange
disdain
for
those
who
were
fighting
for
the
good
luck
to
shake
his
hand,
and
he
didn’t
 feel
sorry
as
he
had
at
other
times
for
the
groups
of
barefoot
Indians
who
could
scarcely
bear
the
hot
saltpeter
 coals
of
the
sterile
little
square.
He
silenced
the
applause
with
a
wave
of
his
hand,
almost
with
rage,
and
he
 began
to
speak
without
gestures,
his
eyes
fixed
on
the
sea,
which
was
sighing
with
heat.
His
measured,
deep
 voice
had
the
quality
of
calm
water,
but
the
speech
that
had
been
memorized
and
ground
out
so
many
times
had
 not
occurred
to
him
in
the
nature
of
telling
the
truth,
but,
rather,
as
the
opposite
of
a
fatalistic
pronouncement
 by
Marcus
Aurelius
in
the
fourth
book
of
his
Meditations.
 
 “We
are
here
for
the
purpose
of
defeating
nature,”
he
began,
against
all
his
convictions.
”We
will
no
longer
be
 foundlings
in
our
own
country,
orphans
of
God
in
a
realm
of
thirst
and
bad
climate,
exiles
in
our
own
land.
We
 will
be
different
people,
ladies
and
gentlemen,
we
will
be
great
and
happy
people.”
 
 There
was
a
pattern
to
his
circus.
As
he
spoke
his
aides
threw
clusters
of
paper
birds
into
the
air
and
the
artificial
 creatures
took
on
life,
flew
about
the
platform
of
planks,
and
went
out
to
sea.
At
the
same
time,
other
men
took
 some
prop
trees
with
felt
leaves
out
of
the
wagons
and
planted
them
in
the
saltpeter
soil
behind
the
crowd.

They finished
by
setting
up
a
cardboard
facade
with
make‐believe
houses
of
red
brick
that
had
glass
windows,
and
with
 it
they
covered
the
miserable
real‐life
shacks.
 
 The
senator
prolonged
his
speech
with
two
quotations
in
Latin
in
order
to
give
the
farce
more
time.
He
promised
 rainmaking
machines,
portable
breeders
for
table
animals,
the
oils
of
happiness
which
would
make
vegetables
 grow
in
the
salt peter
and
clumps
of
pansies
in
the
window
boxes.
When
he
saw
that
his
fictional
world
was
all
set
 up,
he
pointed
to
it.
”That’s
the
way
it
will
be
for
us,
ladies
and
gentlemen,”
he
shouted.
”Look!
That’s
the
way
it
 will
be
for
us.”
 
 The
audience
turned
around.
An
ocean
line
made
of
painted
paper
was
passing
behind
the
houses
and
it
was
 taller
than
the
tallest
houses
in
the
artificial
city.
Only
the
senator
himself
noticed
that
since
it
had
been
set
up
 and
taken
down
and
carried
from
one
place
to
another
the
superimposed
cardboard
town
had
been
eaten
away
 by
the
terrible
climate
and
that
it
was
almost
as
poor
and
dusty
as
Rosal
del
Virrey.
 
 For
the
first
time
in
twelve
years,
Nelson
Farina
didn’t
go
to
greet
the
senator.
He
listened
to
the
speech
from
his
 hammock
amidst
the
remains
of
his
siesta,
under
the
cool
bower
of
a
house
of
unplaned
boards
which
he
had
 built
with
the
same
pharmacist’s
hands
with
which
he
had
drawn
and
quartered
his
first
wife.
He
had
escaped
 from
Devil’s
Island
and
appeared
in
Rosal
del
Virrey
on
a
ship
loaded
with
innocent
macaws,
with
beautiful
and
 blasphemous
black
woman
he
had
found
in
Paramaribo
and
by
whom
he
had
a
daughter.
The
woman
died
of
 natural
causes
a
short
while
later
and
she
didn’t
suffer
the
fate
of
the
other,
whose
pieces
had
fertilized
his
own
 cauliflower
patch,
but
was
buried
whole
and
with
her
Dutch
name
in
the
local
cemetery.
The
daughter
had
 inherited
her
colour
and
her
figure
along
with
her
father’s
yellow
and
astonished
eyes,
and
he
had
good
reason
to
 imagine
that
he
was
rearing
the
most
beautiful
woman
in
the
world.

Ever
since
he
had
met
Senator
Onesimo
Sanchez
during
his
first
electoral
campaign,
Nelson
Farina
had
begged
for
 his
help
in
getting
a
false
identity
card
which
would
place
him
beyond
the
reach
of
the
law.
The
senator,
in
a
 friendly
but
firm
way,
had
refused.
Nelson
Farina
never
gave
up,
and
for
several
years,
every
time
he
found
the
 chance
he
would
repeat
his
request
with
a
different
recourse.
But
this
time
he
stayed
in
his
hammock,
 condemned
to
rot
alive
in
that
burning
den
of
buccaneers.
When
he
heard
the
final
applause,
he
lifted
his
head,
 and
looking
over
the
boards
of
the
fence,
he
saw
the
back
side
of
the
farce:
the
props
for
the
buildings,
the
 framework
of
the
trees,
the
hidden
illusionists
who
were
pushing
the
ocean
liner
along.
He
spat
without
rancor.
 
 “Merde,”
he
said.
”C’est
le
Blacamen
de
la
politique.”
 
 After
the
speech,
as
was
customary,
the
senator
took
a
walk
through
the
streets
of
the
town
in
the
midst
of
the
 music
and
the
rockets
and
was
besieged
by
the
townspeople,
who
told
him
their
troubles.
The
senator
listened
to
 them
good‐naturedly
and
he
always
found
some
way
to
console
everybody
without
having
to
do
them
any
 difficult
favors.
A
woman
up
on
the
roof
of
a
house
with
her
six
youngest
children
managed
to
make
herself
 heard
over
the
uproar
and
the
fireworks.
 
 “I’m
not
asking
for
much,
Senator,”
she
said.
”Just
a
donkey
to
haul
water
from
Hanged
Man’s
Well.”
 
 The
senator
noticed
the
six
thin
children.
”What
became
of
your
husband?”
he
asked.
 
 “He
went
to
find
his
fortune
on
the
island
of
Aruba,”
the
woman
answered
good‐humoredly,
”and
what
he
found
 was
a
foreign
woman,
the
kind
that
put
diamonds
on
their
teeth.”
 
 The
answer
brought
a
roar
of
laughter.
“All
right,”
the
senator
decided,
”you’ll
get
your
donkey.”
 
 A
short
while
later
an
aide
of
his
brought
a
good
pack
donkey
to
the
woman’s
house
and
on
the
rump
it
had
a
 campaign
slogan
written
in
indelible
paint
so
that
no
one
would
ever
forget
that
it
was
a
gift
from
the
senator.
 Along
the
short
stretch
of
street
he
made
other,
smaller
gestures,
and
he
even
gave
a
spoonful
of
medicine
to
a
 sick
man
who
had

his
bed
brought
to
the
door
of
his
house
so
he
could
see
him
pass.
At
the
last
corner,
 through
the
boards
of
the
fence,
he
saw
Nelson
Farina
in
his
hammock,
looking
ashen
and
gloomy,
but
 nonetheless
the
senator
greeted
him,
with
no
show
of
affection.
 
 “Hello,
how
are
you?”
 
 Nelson
Farina
turned
in
his
hammock
and
soaked
him
in
the
sad
amber
of
his
look.
 
 “Moi
vous
savez,”
he
said.
 
 His
daughter
came
out
into
the
yard
when
she
heard
the
greeting.
She
was
wearing
a
cheap,
faded
Guajiro
Indian
 robe,
her
head
was
decorated
with
colored
bows,
and
her
face
was
painted
as
protection
against
the
sun,
but
 even
in
that
state
of
disrepair
it
was
possible
to
imagine
that
there
had
never
been
another
so
beautiful
in
the
 whole
world.
The
senator
was
left
breathless.
”I’ll
be
damned!”
he
breathed
in
surprise.
”The
Lord
does
the
 craziest
things!”
 
 That
night
Nelson
Farina
dressed
his
daughter
up
in
her
best
clothes
and
sent
her
to
the
senator.
Two
guards
 armed
with
rifles
who
were
nodding
from
the
heat
in
the
borrowed
house
ordered
her
to
wait
on
the
only
chair
 in
the
vestibule.
 
 The
senator
was
in
the
next
room
meeting
with
the
important
people
of
Rosal
del
Virrey,
whom
he
had
gathered
 together
in
order
to
sing
for
them
the
truths
he
had
left
out
of
his
speeches.
They
looked
so
much
like
all
the
 ones
he
always
met
in
all
the
towns
in
the
desert
that
even
the
senator
himself
was
sick
and
tired
of
that
 perpetual
nightly
session.
His
shirt
was
soaked
with
sweat
and
he
was
trying
to
dry
it
on
his
body
with
the
hot
 breeze
from
an
electric
fan
that
was
buzzing
like
a
horse
fly
in
the
heavy
heat
of
the
room.
 
 “We,
of
course,
can’t
eat
paper
birds,”
he
said.
”You
and
I
know
that
the
day
there
are
trees
and
flowers
in
this
 heap
of
goat
dung,
the
day
there
are
shad
instead
of
worms
in
the
water
holes,
that
day
neither
you
nor
I
will
 have
anything
to
do
here,
do
I
make
myself
clear?”
 
 No
one
answered.
While
he
was
speaking,
the
senator
had
torn
a
sheet
off
the
calendar
and
fashioned
a
paper
 butterfly
out
of
it
with
his
hands.
He
tossed
it
with
no
particular
aim
into
the
air
current
coming
from
the
fan
and
 the
butterfly
flew
about
the
room
and
then
went
out
through
the
half‐open
door.
The
senator
went
on
speaking
 with
a
control
aided
by
the
complicity
of
death.

“Therefore,”
he
said,
”I
don’t
have
to
repeat
to
you
what
you
already
know
too
well:
that
my
reelection
is
a
better
 piece
of
business
for
you
than
it
is
for
me,
because
I’m
fed
up
with
stagnant
water
and
Indian
sweat,
while
you
 people,
on
the
other
hand,
make
your
living
from
it.”
 
 Laura
Farina
saw
the
paper
butterfly
come
out.
Only
she
saw
it
because
the
guards
in
the
vestibule
had
fallen
 asleep
on
the
steps,
hugging
their
rifles.
After
a
few
turns,
the
large
lithographed
butterfly
unfolded
completely,
 flattened
against
the
wall,
and
remained
stuck
there.
Laura
Farina
tried
to
pull
it
off
with
her
nails.
One
of
the
 guards,
who
woke
up
with
the
applause
from
the
next
room,
noticed
her
vain
attempt.
“It
won’t
come
off,”
he
said
sleepily.
”It’s
painted
on
the
wall.”
 
 Laura
Farina
sat
down
again
when
the
men
began
to
come
out
of
the
meeting.
The
senator
stood
in
the
doorway
 of
the
room
with
his
hand
on
the
latch,
and
he
only
noticed
Laura
Farina
when
the
vestibule
was
empty.
 
 “What
are
you
doing
here?”
 
 “C’est
de
la
part
de
mon
pere,”
she
said.
 
 The
senator
understood.
He
scrutinized
the
sleeping
guards,
then
he
scrutinized
Laura
Farina,
whose
unusual
 beauty
was
even
more
demanding
than
his
pain,
and
he
resolved
then
that
death
had
made
his
decision
for
him.
 
 “Come
in,”
he
told
her.
 
 Laura
Farina
was
struck
dumb
standing
in
the
doorway
to
the
room:
thousands
of
bank
notes
were
floating
in
the
 air,
flapping
like
the
butterfly.
But
the
senator
turned
off
the
fan
and
the
bills
were
left
without
air
and
alighted
 on
the
objects
in
the
room.
 
 “You
see,”
he
said,
smiling,
”even
shit
can
fly.”
 
 Laura
Farina
sat
down
on
the
schoolboy’s
stool.
Her
skin
was
smooth
and
firm,
with
the
same
color
and
the
same
 solar
density
as
crude
oil,
her
hair
was
the
mane
of
a
young
mare,
and
her
huge
eyes
were
brighter
than
the
light.
 The
senator
followed
the
thread
of
her
look
and
finally
found
the
rose,
which
had
been
tarnished
by
the
 saltpeter.
 
 “It’s
a
rose,”
he
said.
 
 “Yes,”
she
said
with
a
trace
of
perplexity.
”I
learned
what
they
were
in
Riohacha.”
 
 The
senator
sat
down
on
an
army
cot,
talking
about
roses
as
he
unbuttoned
his
shirt.
On
the
side
where
he
 imagined
his
heart
to
be
inside
his
chest
he
had
a
corsair’s
tattoo
of
a
heart
pierced
by
an
arrow.
He
threw
the
 soaked
shirt
to
the
floor
and
asked
Laura
Farina
to
help
him
off
with
his
boots.
 
 She
knelt
down
facing
the
cot.
The
senator
continued
to
scrutinize
her,
thoughtfully,
and
while
she
was
untying
 the
laces
he
wondered
which
one
of
them
would
end
up
with
the
bad
luck
of
that
encounter.
 
 “You’re
just
a
child,”
he
said.
 
 “Don’t
you
believe
it,”
she
said.
”I’ll
be
nineteen
in
April.”
 
 The
senator
became
interested.
 
 “What
day?”
 
 “The
eleventh,”
she
said.
 
 The
senator
felt
better.
”We’re
both
Aries,”
he
said.
And
smiling,
he
added:
”It’s
the
sign
of
solitude.”
Laura
Farina
wasn’t
paying
attention
because
she
didn’t
know
what
to
do
with
the
boots.
The
senator,
for
his
 part,
didn’t
know
what
to
do
with
Laura
Farina,
because
he
wasn’t
used
to
sudden
love
affairs
and,
besides,
he
 knew
that
the
one
at
hand
had
its
origins
in
indignity.
Just
to
have
some
time
to
think,
he
held
Laura
Farina
tightly
 between
his
knees,
embraced
her
about
the
waist,
and
lay
down
on
his
back
on
the
cot.
Then
he
realized
that
she
 was
naked
under
her
dress,
for
her
body
gave
off
the
dark
fragrance
of
an
animal
of
the
woods,
but
her
heart
was
 frightened
and
her
skin
disturbed
by
a
glacial
sweat.
 
 “No
one
loves
us,”
he
sighed.
 
 Laura
Farina
tried
to
say
something,
but
there
was
only
enough
air
for
her
to
breathe.
He
laid
her
down
beside
 him
to
help
her,
he
put
out
the
light
and
the
room
was
in
the
shadow
of
the
rose.
She
abandoned
herself
to
 mercies
of
her
fate.
The
senator
caressed
her
slowly,
seeking
her
with
his
hand,
barely
touching
her,
but
where
 he
expected
to
find
her,
he
came
across
something
iron
that
was
in
the
way.
 
 “What
have
you
got
there?”
 
 “A
padlock,”
she
said.
 
 “What
in
the
hell!”
the
senator
said
furiously
and
asked
what
he
knew
only
too
well.
”Where’s
the
key?”
 
 Laura
Farina
gave
a
breath
of
relief.

“My
papa
has
it,”
she
answered.
”He
told
me
to
tell
you
to
send
one
of
your
people
to
get
it
and
to
send
along
 with
him
a
written
promise
that
you’ll
straighten
out
his
situation.”
 
 The
senator
grew
tense.
”Frog
bastard,”
he
murmured
indignantly.
Then
he
closed
his
eyes
in
order
to
relax
and
 he
met
himself
in
the
darkness.
Remember,
he
remembered,
that
whether
it’s
you
or
someone
else,
it
won’t
be
 long
before
you’ll
be
dead
and
it
won’t
be
long
before
your
name
won’t
even
be
left.
 
 He
waited
for
the
shudder
to
pass.
 
 “Tell
me
one
thing,”
he
asked
then.
”What
have
you
heard
about
me?”
 
 “Do
you
want
the
honest‐to‐God
truth?”
 
 “The
honest‐to‐God
truth.”
 
 “Well,”
Laura
Farina
ventured,
”they
say
you’re
worse
than
the
rest
because
you
are
different.”
 
 The
senator
didn’t
get
upset.
He
remained
silent
for
a
long
time
with
his
eyes
closed,
and
when
he
opened
them
 again
he
seemed
to
have
returned
from
his
most
hidden
instincts.
 
 “Oh,
what
the
hell,”
he
decided.
”Tell
your
son
of
a
bitch
of
a
father
that
I’ll
straighten
out
his
situation.”
 
 “If
you
want,
I
can
get
the
key
myself,”
Laura
Farina
said.
 
 The
senator
held
her
back.
“Forget
about
the
key,”
he
said,
”and
sleep
awhile
with
me.
It’s
good
to
be
with
someone
when
you
are
so
 alone.”
 
 The
she
laid
his
head
on
her
shoulder
with
her
eyes
fixed
on
the
rose.
The
senator
held
her
about
the
waist,
sank
 his
face
into
woods‐animal
armpit,
and
gave
in
to
terror.
Six
months
and
eleven
days
later
he
would
die
in
that
 same
position,
debased
and
repudiated
because
of
the
public
scandal
with
Laura
Farina
and
weeping
with
rage
at
 dying
without
her.