The Diabolical Chords


It was a horrible day when I discovered that my talent and passion was playing the guitar. I had always been a boy of many interests, swaying from one activity to another in spurs of ten days, fifteen sometimes. My parents did not pay much mind to this issue, but they did call it an issue. Every day I was told: “Juan, you should not waste so much time on so many things”, but I did not care, and neither did they. To them, I was just being a happy child even if the whole church told them otherwise. It was actually the school principal who compared everyone to his son, the amazing “math wiz”. One morning my inconspicuous friend was playing chess with a boy even plainer than he was. They laughed and tried all sorts of funny plays with which to amuse themselves, but it was not okay to laugh openly when the principal was nearby. So, he came up to them that hot morning and said: “don’t waste your time on such foolishness, it is not wise”. My friend, who was of a feeble spirit, stopped playing chess so adamantly, and his other friend later turned to drugs, and even though I blame the principal, he probably was just a dumb seed.

That school belonged to the church I attended in my early years. It is now closed but back then it was an unstable catalyst for kids. The principal was trialed for child labor, and they had to shut the school down. He always thought he was such an industrious man, of progress and wise decision-making. In the end, he was just a damaged child who did overcome poverty but lived poorly for the rest of his life because he thought everyone was miserable like him, except for his son, the amazing “math wiz”.

It was on that horrible, hot day that Mauricio, the math genius, introduced me to Queen. I remember it perfectly, but that was not the moment when I discovered my talent, that would come later that day, at night to be precise. He was standing tall, looking athletic and strong, and him being three years older than me always struck me as if I were looking at a defiant, muscular legend.

“Everyone says that you’re very smart, but you cannot beat me at chess anymore, what happened?”.

I wanted to shout to the whole school that it was his father who stopped the chess fever and made us as truant as Christian teenagers can be. This inanition would later get us all into so much trouble, but I only blurted out: “well, you’re just smarter than me”.

“Bullshit, you’re just lazy”, and I stood up in shock when I heard him say a curse word, “are you scared of a little bad word?”, Mauricio said as he put in a CD into the portable boombox he had taken from his parents’ room, “now bask in the unholy glory of Brian May!”.

He played Bohemian Rhapsody, obviously, but back then it was not obvious to me. It was an experience of pure ecstasy. When I heard Brian May’s guitar solo I knew that I wanted to play like him. It was a feeling that I could not shake, no matter how much I tried. As I sat back in silence, Mauricio was watching me as if he had taught me instantly how to program computers. He smiled at me, stopped the boombox, took out the CD, and handed it over to me.

“Now you know what life is all about”, he said with that histrionic tone he loved, “don’t give a shit about what my father says, or the whole church, for that matter”.

When my mother picked me up from school I asked her to play the CD in our Chevy Malibu 2001. We were fortunate enough to have a car with a CD player, and I always felt proud of my father for buying that car. My mom smiled when she heard Radio Gaga come in. She asked me where I got this Queen CD. I told her that my friend Mauricio gave it to me. She grimaced and stopped the player. She took out the CD and said:

“You give it back to him tomorrow”, and as soon as she saw me open my mouth, she added: “I’m ordering you. I don’t want to hear you complain”.

I put the CD back into its beautiful, metallic case, and looked at it the whole trip home. My mom was trying to have a conversation with me, to distract myself from Mauricio. I had heard not only my mother but many señoras complain to the pastor about Mauricio, that he was getting bad ideas into the minds of their children. The pastor was a wise man, unlike our broken principal. He would listen to the señoras, one by one, and tell them that if they kept their house in order, that if they meditated and scrutinized the Word, their children would fare well and become men and women of faith. But nobody could help these poor women, nobody could heal them from their daily household abuse. We called these sad creatures señoras. I had a girlfriend back then, and I would sometimes visit her, and although we were pretty good at keeping it secret, we noticed that her mom knew, and she started resenting her own daughter. And I also remember how her husband always said: the man is the head of the family, his voice being the reverberation of the Pastor’s shrieks. It was cruel to see this because he did not take responsibility for being an exemplary Christian man. This lascivious, short, balding man, that did not care for his wife’s feelings when saying in front of her that a girl was pretty, or that this other girl was wearing a very short skirt at church, was the reason I vowed to become a great husband. I will not marry a woman and make her a señora.

When we arrived home, I quickly picked up my Bible because I felt that I had sinned by hearing the devil’s music. I remember being so shaken that I cried for hours, until the evening, and did not eat lunch. I overheard my father say that it was not right to cry all the time, and my mother said that I was a lovely, fearful-of-god boy and that he should be proud of me. Then they started arguing about the same, daily stuff. I fell asleep feeling at peace, and I was also exhausted because of the mental struggles to give up this feeling of wanting to play the guitar like Brian May.

It was 1 a.m. when I woke up and saw him standing by my bedroom door. In fact, I still do not know if she even has a sex, or a gender, for that matter. The devil was smiling at me, fuming from his nose like a goblin just about to slit an elf’s throat, and I could not move or make a sound, let alone yell.

“DO NOT FEAR”, the devil said with a crackling voice like a forest fire, “I TOO AM A SON OF GOD”.

It came closer and I stuttered when I tried to say: “stay away from me in the name of the Lord”. It sat right next to my feet, still smiling, with a face like that of an excited friend with a new toy inviting me to play.

“I AM LUCIFER, THE MORNING STAR”, and it chuckled when it said MORNING STAR, “some heathens dare to call me Venus, the nerve! Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you, I’m not like your pastor says. In fact, he doesn’t even know me at all”, its voice was now sweet and mellow.

“Wh… what do you want?”, I muttered, still scared stiff, “I command you to leave this holy house, in the name of the Lord!”.

“Kid, I’m here because you consider me your friend now! Listen to this”, it said as it morphed his mouth into a perfect oval, showing me the inside of his toothless, fiery mouth, “shut up and listen”, it said, as if anticipating the annoying question I was going to ask, and I saw some flames that started dancing to the rhythm of a beautiful orchestral composition. I was amazed.

“How are you doing that? I’ve heard that before, it’s Mozart or something like that, right?”.

The devil grinned with its now normal-looking mouth and quickly morphed it again into a perfect cube. Its hands had long, white fingers that danced as it raised them on top of its cube head to the sound of a bass line. I was about to say something when it started playing a harmonious rock song as if telling me to shut up again and listen. Sounds of guitars, drums, trumpets, and horns filled my bedroom and lit it tenuously with little dancing symbols and tiny, flying creatures. I saw a flaming host of devils, tiny as flies, moving rhythmically to the sound of the rock song. Later I felt scared because I thought my mom would wake up, come into my room, and faint to the sight of his son having a grand time with the devil. But at that moment I was in a trance, thinking that this ill-described creature was the most talented being to ever come out of the Bible. It all stopped abruptly, and the streams of dancing devils were pulled back inside the mouth of the devil, which was slowly morphing back to its normal-looking humanoid shape.

“And that, my fellow son of God, was Fifty-fifty by Frank Zappa. His fellow Americans accused him, at that time, of being inspired by me. I wish I could take credit for it, though. Sometimes our Father does miracles among his sheep. And you can refer to me as the devil, I don’t mind. I am he that walketh around like a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour!”. And he winked at me in the middle of that moonlit night and disappeared. I fell asleep instantaneously.

I ate breakfast that morning as if had just finished a fasting session imposed by the church. Still shook, and a little pale, my mother asked me what was wrong. I said I had an important exam but told her not to worry because I had studied all afternoon and night for it, and she could not help but smile at her ‘diligent’ boy. She drove me to school, and all the while all I could think of was that song the devil interpreted, and I had to ask Mauricio about Frank Zappa, he was my only chance of finding out who that magnificent musician was. I waved goodbye to my mother and ran to the school’s entrance door, eager to find Mauricio there. I looked around but did not find him, so I had to settle with my friends that were sitting under a little structure with a thatch roof. They were talking about Guns N’ Roses, and I asked them about Zappa, and they said they did not know who he was.

“Man, all you need is Welcome to the Jungle. Quit hearing that sissy Christian music or you’ll never hook up with Karla”, a short boy said, feeling grandiose because he played the electric guitar trying too hard to be like Slash. The sort of person that goes around telling everyone that he is a Rockstar because he says ‘Fuck’ and knows the name of a couple of drugs. Also, they can play the guitar a little. “In fact, don’t go hearing Guns N’ Roses either, you couldn’t handle that rock with your pansy-ass ears”.

All the idle characters in this wicked holy middle school were laughing at me, but I did not care. I was about to tell them about my encounter with the devil when Mauricio smacked the short Rockstar boy on the back of the head.

“Man shut the fuck up”, the tall, muscular Mauricio said, “you don’t know shit about Slash, let alone rock. Fuck all these bitches, Juan, let’s go”.

As we were walking toward a tree, Mauricio told me that it was pointless to tell them about the devil, that the only thing they would say was either: “Yeah, the prince of darkness, yeaaaaah!” or “Don’t talk about him, the pastor will get mad”. They would not understand the importance of it appearing to you at night. I told him about the little light concert he threw in my room and the way he morphed his mouth and head. “It”, Mauricio said, “is a being of supreme knowledge that has now given you a chance to learn how to play the guitar. It’s true that it can play every sound imaginable, but the best it does is teach us humans how to play”. I kept wondering why he called the devil “It” and not “he”, like he had told me the night before, but Mauricio said that it did not really matter because its appearance and manners would keep changing the more I knew about “him”. I was surprised about Mauricio. Up until that day I thought he was just the principal’s son, mad at church and mad at the school, but he really knew more about the Bible than my teachers and maybe even the Pastor. I felt a strong connection with him that day, like a forging of souls, and he told me he felt the same.

The bell rang and we went to class. He was already in the third grade, and he just wanted to get out of that “ignorant hellhole”. I was only beginning middle school, but I had loved it until then and even more so when I became friends with Mauricio. Everyone thought he was the coolest guy in school, including me, but I considered him cool because he was the smartest, most acerbic student. All the girls loved him, and they all wanted to go out with him. “I wish he’d ask me to be his girlfriend”, the cutest girl in our class would say every day when she saw him jog in PE class. One day she felt more daring and said to her friends: “I wish he’d caress my face and kiss me while he grabbed me from the waist”. One of her friends told Mauricio and he said, verbatim, “I don’t give a shit about any girl in this school”. The little rat felt bad because she too was infatuated with him, so she told the whole school what Karla, her friend, had said, and this marked the beginning of Karla the whore. The little Rockstar would throw kisses at her in the middle of a reading session, or he’d say to her that he knew how to ‘rock her world’. One day he grabbed her from the waist and said: “I can caress your face if you’d like, Karla. I can caress other parts too…”. She let herself loose and went away crying. This all happened, I believe, one month after the day Mauricio told me not to tell my classmates anything about the devil. I could not believe what had happened and how no one in our class, including myself, did anything or at least say anything to the little Rockstar. Word got out quickly and Mauricio felt furious. Years later he told me that the reason he beat the crap out of the little Rockstar was that one of his cousins had been raped by a boy that started saying the same shit, in another school. So later that day, when the little Rockstar finished being scolded by the principal regarding what had happened, we all went and told him that Mauricio was going to beat him up. He laughed and said that he did not ‘give a shit’, and we were all amazed at his bravado. It lasted for about five minutes. Mauricio came sprinting at him, like a guy that chased you when you went home after a game of basketball in a public park, struck him with his gigantic, third-grade fist on the mouth, and started kicking him on the ground. The last kick was the most brutal. We all stood there, aghast, watching how the coolest guy in school blew out the little Shit’s lips. That was his new name, apt for a piece of shit like him. And Mauricio was now known as Famine, for multiple reasons that I might tell you later. The principal had no choice but to pull out his son from his own middle school, and he was enrolled in a private school, far away from ours. And just like that Karla went from being a whore, a name that lasted for around a month, to being Famine’s sexy girl, even though she had not even kissed him yet.

Mauricio and I continued communicating that year mainly through MSN Messenger. Sometimes we spoke at church, too. By then I could play the guitar amazingly, as it became my obsession. Mauricio told me he became interested in hip-hop by listening to Me Against The World, and soon that was the only genre he listened to. Illmatic was his favorite album, and he shared some of its verses with me, such as:

Beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined
I think of crime when I’m in a New York state of mind.

“Brace yourself cuz youre going to see Satan tonite”, Mauricio messaged me.

“The devil is my friend, y would I brace myself?”, I replied.

“Oh, ul see”.

I was writing music that evening, and my parents told me they would go visit my grandmother, and that they knew they could trust me because I had become a man. I barely heard them. I was in a trance and sometimes the devil would stand next to me and tell me how to write lyrics. With every new song. new thoughts appeared in my mind. I wrote:

You are sick and deranged,
the only way you know how to be of age
is to go out with the youth and act cupid, stupid.

And as I finished this song, the devil disappeared, and my bedroom door burst wide open. A black shadow with a four-headed humanoid shape came inside and I said to him: “Mighty Morphin’ again, Lucifer?”. The shadow slowly floated toward me, bellowing, roaring, screaming, and talking at the same time.

“Man, what’s with the noise, clam it!”, I yelled among the dissonance.

The shadow turned his back, and a beak pecked me on the forehead, making me bleed. I covered the wound with my hands and the shadow ceased all three animal sounds and started talking:

“Up until this day you have proclaimed to be a Christian because you have not realized the true nature of God. Your faith would cease in a second if I were to take your hands in this moment. You are playing our music. Do you not know that God will spit you out of his mouth because you are lukewarm? You should be afraid of the Lord you call your Father. He can shred you to pieces if you fail to follow even the simplest of His instructions. He has been merciful, watching you play our diabolical chords with such carefreeness. The next time we will not be so kind”.

The shadow disappeared, and the bleeding on my forehead stopped, but I could not shake this pain inside my head. I was looking around the house in a blurry haze, worried that the shadow might still be somewhere inside the house. I heard some noises coming from the living room and I tiptoed through the hall. Sitting, amid a pensive calm in the air, was Lucifer. He started floating, smiling at me with an avuncular gaze. I started crying. He laughed and said: “I see you’ve met the Accuser. Welcome to religion”.




Shortly after the incident with the Accuser, I spoke with the youth Pastor and asked him many things regarding religion. With every question he grew more nervous, worrying that I would be another Mauricio questioning our fathers’ faith. He was horrified when I told him that I was friends with the devil, and he did not give me a chance to explain just how it had happened. He soon called the Pastor and they both started saying that I was in a very dangerous situation. I looked around their office with beautiful ochre walls. On the coffee table, with a glass surface supported by four lion paws, there was a bible. Next to the bible, there was a pot of coffee. They were heavy drinkers of coffee, and one would say they found a new meaning for tippling. I had just graduated from middle school and I thought I would never have to smell the coffee breath in the air. Now two pastors were cramming three years of coffee breath stench into a one-hour session of frantic bible teaching. They both lost it when I said the devil had been a great teacher, especially in music. I too could not contain myself anymore, especially in front of this youth Pastor that loved to play cupid.

“What would you know!”, I yelled, looking intently at Cupid, “all you do is laugh around and say to us that one day we’ll get married and we’ll give our money to our wife”.

And Cupid burst out laughing, glancing at the Pastor as if making sure his fake laughter would not get noticed.

“It’s true, I do talk about that”, Cupid said, “but don’t forget that is what the youth cares about. Fornication is a grave sin”.

“I thought all sins were equal”, I replied.

“What he means”, the Pastor interrupted, “is that one can be more destructive than the other, but they’re all equal in the eyes of God”.

“The reason you are here is that you’re afraid of the devil, right?”, Cupid continued.

“No, I’m here because the devil has taught me more stuff about the bible, and life, for that matter, than all of you in this house of god you so proudly claim membership of”, I was now fuming like a bloodthirsty goblin.

“You are making these preposterous claims based on stuff you have heard superfluously, without scrutinizing”, the Pastor said, calmly, “and you must have forgotten what following Christ is all about: his love. You think that you have matured by rebelling against your father’s faith, as almost all people do, and what is worse is that we, as humans, do it out of spite. Out of spite because of your father’s imperfections. You think that by claiming you are friends with the devil you are proving to be smarter than your father, smarter than your Pastor, and smarter than the whole congregation. This love we have all felt is something that you have been instructed in since you were a child. Instructed, that is the perfect word for it, don’t you think?”, I nodded just so he would finish his damned point, “but you do not love Christ anymore, because you think He has given you your musical talent as a curse. You are not rebelling against your family or your church… you are rebelling against the Son of God, the one who died for your sins so you would not have to perish for all eternity amidst flames of eternal suffering. He cleansed your body and your mind, and now you are soiling it. God is your Father. Belial, sometimes confused with the devil, can be understood as a demon that will make the Children of God turn their backs against their own celestial Father. But you have become Belial”.

At this point I was confused, feeling worse than the time my mom told me not to hear that Queen CD anymore. I started crying, and now I know that it was exactly at that moment that the Pastor changed his tone to a more melancholic one.

“I had a dream where the Children I taught since they were little were coming back as broken men and women, some missing an eye, some missing an arm. Others had their hearts so broken they were crying out loud for God to give them another chance. And I embraced them all, one by one, and told them that if they repented God would give them another chance. That they would be saved again from the brooding abyss filled by flames of darkness”, at this moment I was crying loudly, “so now you can make the decision to escape from the infernal claws of the fiend you call your friend, the devil, who will torture you for all eternity, laughing because he knows he has done his job. Do not be astray anymore, come back to your God, the shepherd of your father, and the Father of humanity”.

I burst out crying, sobbing loudly, sniffling, and calling out to god saying: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”. Cupid sat next to me and grabbed me by the shoulder, and I hugged him, and he hugged me back. I thought I was the stupidest person in the world, having known god’s grace and dismissing it for a fiend, swayed by his nefarious schemes, driven down by the infernal hosts and their cruel machinations. I was confounded by the devil, but I felt I was given another chance thanks to the Accuser, who warned me before it was too late. I talked to both Pastors about my conversations with Lucifer and with the Accuser, and the Pastor told me that the Accuser is known to be a godly device for helping test the faith of the sheep.

“I have heard from your mother that you are quite adept at playing the guitar. This gift from God is not the curse you think it is. You can use it to help guide more souls to the path of the righteous. I know you think that you are young and that you doubt your ability. But imagine this: you believed in the devil being your friend and teaching you, as the great musical being that he is, and you progressed at an astonishing rate. Also, Mauricio told us that you are ready to be a part of this great project one of my friends is doing: Foundation Shakers. This is a band that will drive more and more youth to God’s way. My friend, the Pastor of Chihuahua, has told me that they are in dire need of a guitarist. Would you be interested?”.

I did not even ask why the band was named Foundation Shakers, I instantly agreed, knowing that it was the only way to feel at ease with my talent. I went back home feeling at peace, riding the bus like any other Saturday. The hot wind would enter through its windows, the foul smell of sweaty armpits savagely danced in our noses, and even the constant thumping and swaying of hips did not make me lose that smile I now had because god was back in my life.

I prayed so hard that evening and wailed so loudly that I overheard my parents in the other room saying: “I miss the silence when he wrote music”. But then I felt the love of Jesus Christ embracing me, seeing me like a messed-up canvas, gently painting over me a whole new picture of hope and compassion. I sang for hours, and I played my electric guitar with my headphones on. I called for him, and I tried so hard to see him with my own eyes as I had seen both Lucifer and the Accuser, but he did not come into my bedroom. I read the Bible, and I specifically read Job that night, two times, looking for an answer in the character that found redemption amidst his misery. Bereft of his family and riches, Job learned to worship God even in a time of hardship. I then chuckled and thought: “I’m here whining because I feel bereft of my musical exploration, even though I have my health and my family”. I started praying honestly for the first time in my life:

“Oh Father, You have watched over me ever since I was inside my mother’s womb. I now see Your grace and Your holiness. I felt stupefied by Your church, but now I am astounded by Your glory. Thank You for holding me in Your arms, protecting me from the evil that lurks around every corner. Even though I was rebelling against You, You never let go of me. And now I realize that it was in Your divine plan to have me know the world so I won’t have a longing temptation of it. Cleanse me of my sins, I beg of You”.

And I saw the Holy Spirit in front of me, a radiant light of hope that gave me the strength to surpass my rebellious self. I felt an intense need of writing music to praise the Lord, and it was in that moment that I knew I could turn my curse into a blessing.


It was the summer I turned 18 that I got to play in Europe with the band. Three years of hard work had flown by. Mauricio and I kept the band in tip-top shape. They started calling us “perfectionists”, mocking us behind our backs. We gathered the band and said to them: “If you give anything but your best to God he will spit you out for being lukewarm”. And I would remind them about my encounter with the Accuser so they would get their act together. Three years… it all happened so quickly. Sometimes I forget that in that lapse I was profoundly afraid of Mauricio. I heard from other people that he had become a religious zealot, but in reality, it was more like a situation in which a junkie uses Christianity as therapy. Mauricio knew everything about the Judeo-Christian faith, and he was the best guitarist I had ever heard live. People used to ask him two questions back then: “Why are you playing rock progressions and jazz improvisations if that is known as diabolical music?”, to which he would answer that it was his right to use whatever kind of music to praise the Lord since He had created sound. “How did you learn to play the guitar like that?”, to which he would answer that his mathematical genius translated directly into music. He knew it was a blatant lie, but it shut everyone up and stopped further curiosity.

In those three years, up until the night before us leaving for Europe, neither the devil nor the Accuser presented themselves to me at night. The Holy Spirit was with me every single moment. Mauricio and I spoke about this constantly, saying that those demonic revelations were nothing more than immature manifestations of rebellion, but there was something in his statements that made me think he would recant them soon. Whenever he prayed, he started like this:

“Heavenly father, you hear us claim for your salvation as if salvation were not here already. Yet you are patient, and you have shown us that you can smite, and that you can forgive. I pray that we do not fall unto temptation… that we do not stray. Have mercy upon my soul, my sinning soul, because even though I can renounce my Heavenly Gift to pursue the passions of the flesh, you never grow weary of me”.

These words always made me wonder whether he was pursuing the passions of the flesh all the while asking for forgiveness, every day. I did not mind much, and I certainly did not want to pry, but I knew there was something in his life that he was concealing. Since I thought we were friends, I asked him about it that night before leaving for Europe, and he said that upon seeing and hearing many worldly things, he became fatigued by constantly running away from God.

We were in Ciudad de Mexico, in a hotel near the airport, laughing and playing fun songs. Mauricio felt like he could give the band a break, and we all certainly enjoyed it. We played Have You Ever Seen The Rain so cheerfully that the Pastor from Chihuahua knocked on our door. He said that we should not be playing any worldly song, even if the song were harmless. Mauricio said: “It’s okay, we just wanted to chill for a little bit. This song reminds us of our fathers”. He then left and Mauricio told the rest of the band to go to their rooms.

It was around 1 a.m. when I panicked because I noticed that the Holy Spirit was not there with me. I asked Mauricio: “have you fallen asleep yet?”. And he said that he had something to confess, but that he would wait for Belial to come. I was petrified. I could not say a single word and Mauricio told me not to worry, that the demons were also our brothers as Children of God. Three years had happened since that encounter with the Accuser, and I did not want to panic and cry again, not in front of Mauricio. Meanwhile, he told me that it was hard being a Christian and be unencumbered by cognitive dissonance. It makes you prone to harsh reactions, he said solemnly. “Do you remember when you introduced me to Queen?”, I asked, and I noticed he nodded in the dark, “I never thanked you for that. My mom told me to stay away from you”. He chuckled.

“Belial is here because we both want him here. Deep inside you miss him, even though you haven’t met him”, Mauricio said.

And Belial appeared, like a fiery compound of twigs and fallen leaves. This demon was sobbing, cursing, and lamenting himself.

“I am here today, Belial, because I need your help for the last song I will play as a member of this group”, Mauricio said, “and maybe, if he wills it, Juan will help me too”.

“Why are you doubting Juan?”, Belial said with a crackling voice, sobbing, “you know he is one of us, the Belial”. I stared at the burning twigs and fallen leaves, and they kept staring back at me. I was terrified.

“He knows it, but he has chosen his side of the dissonance. I can peer into his heart and know that he has chosen God. Belial, give me the strength needed to part from the band with graceful character. I chose you because you were the first reject. We are rejects, sons of Belial. Lead us with your diabolical chords”.

I started to panic when Mauricio said that we were rejects, sons of Belial. Was he referring to me, or Belial himself? I imagined the three of us burning for all eternity, in flames of darkness where the screams of pain suffused your own, and the maggots ate your eyeballs, for all eternity. But the eyes of Belial kept staring at me, and I could feel the heat of its gaze inside my soul, like a kindling of a rebellious moment, evaporating the fear of hell in my heart. I felt a sudden urge to help Mauricio in his endeavor. That night our souls were reforged together, and the two of us were branded by the mark of the sons of Belial.

“You are my sons”, Belial said, still crying, “you know that you do not belong anywhere. I will grant you the inspiration you seek, and you will bask in the glory of the host of hell. The pain that is seething inside your entrails is the cost of seeking the truth. If you embrace it, you will conquer the minds of those that are still lost. Go on and preach to every creature the pain of not belonging”.

I heard the roaring, bellowing, screeching, and yelling of the Accuser, and Belial vanished, leaving Mauricio and me in the darkness. I fell into a deep sleep, and I figure Mauricio did too, but I never got to ask him. I dreamed of our past. I saw the little Shit crying in a corner, being scourged by his drunk father. I saw Karla the whore, crying while her father told her that she needed to go, yet another night, with an unknown man so that she and her family could eat for another day. I smiled when Mauricio ran away with Karla, with the beautiful Karla, and they danced all night in an abandoned house. I saw him as Famine, devouring Karla all the way to her soul, and understood why they called him Famine. And in all of these visions, the Accuser was there, along with Lucifer, and Belial. Then I saw myself in the middle of them all, and a ray shined upon us like a strobe light, and we saw god. We all kneeled, including the demons. And we all held hands and said to ourselves: “this too shall pass”.

The next day was tiresome. After flying for thirteen hours all I wanted was to leave the band and write my own music. Mauricio told me he felt the same, and that he had this song by Belial stuck in his mind, begging to get out. The pain inside my heart kept seething, and it took me a while to figure it was the song Mauricio was talking about. When we arrived in Madrid we did not have any time for sightseeing, as the concert was to start early in the morning. The concert, in reality, was a youth revival. This meant that many bands would worship and lead all the young attendants into worshipping. The Pastor from Chihuahua gathered the band that night in Madrid, and told us a short anecdote about himself:

“Band, I want you to know that we all choose a side whenever we encounter the love of God. Many people get to know God when they worship Him in spirit, and in truth. Tomorrow we will start with the Bible passage about the earth shaking thanks to Paul and Silas singing and worshipping. People need to know what our name means. Finally, and I will be succinct because I know we are all exhausted from the flight, I want you to know that some people grow up in church and get accustomed to it, and rebel. I grew up obsessed with obtaining political power, until I behaved in an ignominious way, many years ago. I was hopelessly lost. Then one day a friend of mine preached the Gospel to me on the phone, and I remember falling on my knees, crying with sorrow, knowing that God could cleanse me. That is the sentiment that we should always transmit with our songs: God loves you and wants to help you. Thank you all for your service and your devotion, God will bless your lives, and Jesus will build homes for you in Heaven. Good night”.

“Pastor”, Mauricio said, “before you leave, I want you to know that Juan and I will play a duet with our guitars only. The song is something that we have both felt for a long time, and it deals with what it means to be a Christian. It’s going to be a beautiful experience of sincere revelation”.

The pastor stared at him suspiciously, looked at his Apple Watch, and agreed.





It was a hot morning in Madrid, and it was even hotter inside the auditorium. The people were ecstatic, eager to spend a whole day looking for salvation. Hours passed and we finally got to play. To my amazement, everyone clapped and cheered for us. We were the most popular Christian band in the Hispanic world, but I did not think it was real until that moment. We played our planned repertoire, and I could see the people transporting themselves to another realm where they were probably seeing God. Their faces reflected a peace they since long needed. And I looked at the Pastor, who was standing right next to the set with his eyes closed, and he was worshipping with his arms and hands pointing to the sky.

Then I heard Mauricio say that we were going to play a special song, a duet where two people converse with their guitars sincerely, talking about what it means to be a real Christian. The audience went nuts, and I wondered if this was how Brian May felt when they played at their peak. Mauricio started playing a jazz improvisation, and he looked at me as if I had to reply with my guitar, and I started playing a bolero part, communicating back and forth, for ten seconds each. After a minute of only playing, Mauricio started singing:

“Oh Father, oh Father, we come before you today
to see the glorious array,
of pure and free thoughts
who did get us caught
right there were we laid”.

And I started singing too:

“Oh Prince, oh Prince,
you held our hands when we suffered,
sustained by your freedom,
and the fire that you offered”.

“Curse that holy kingdom,
it made us lose our sanity,
yet you showed us mercy,
oh Father Belial, yours is the wisdom”.

And as soon as Mauricio sang that verse, the Accuser appeared floating above the audience, causing a quadraphonic turmoil of beasts. The people started screaming and crying, and I saw Mauricio smiling, still playing his guitar, with Belial right behind him, glancing at me. I wanted to stop playing too, but I knew Lucifer was behind me, and I was certain this time people could see him with me. The Pastor started yelling at us, and I could see his face of terror as if betrayed by his own host of the heavens. I stared at the Accuser and started crying. I knew in that moment that God would not forgive me for causing people to go astray.

Our sound got cut off, and the lights went out for ten seconds. The Pastor was speaking, trying to mend the situation by saying it was the conversation of two people asking for forgiveness, and that these demons wanted to mar the holy presence. Meanwhile, some guards dragged Mauricio and me off the stage. The rest of the band was told to play while the Pastor kept speaking. I was sobbing uncontrollably, knowing that Hell could be in my future if I did not repent. So, I fell to my knees and asked for forgiveness right there. After I opened my eyes, I felt Mauricio shaking me by the shoulders, and saw the terror on his face. He stood up, walked backwards away from me, looking over my head. He had the same face the Pastor of Chihuahua had earlier, that of betrayal. But he smiled at me, opened the emergency door. He became a dark silhouette waving goodbye, with the sunset behind him. I never saw him again.





Now, ten years later, we are seeing Juan teaching children and teenagers how to play the guitar. He looks happy, but deep inside I know we all still live in his heart. I, Lucifer, still morph from now and then and he gladly receives me at night to talk, to discuss the Bible, and to remember the past. Just last night he received a letter from Mauricio. A letter from his best friend, ten years later… imagine his heart!

Dear Juan,

I’m writing to you from La Plata, Argentina. I’m sorry I did not say anything, but you must know I had to leave immediately. After we finished that song, I saw your face of horror and knew right there that you had chosen your side. I’m not your adversary — your Ha-Satan, remember? I lived in Paris for a few months and then left for Chile. I have traveled all around Latin America.

I will do my best to provide freedom to Christians here, in La Plata, and in all of Latin America. With my idea of freedom. I will always reproach the way people impose their ideals on children, but that’s just the way it is for everyone. We got Christianity, others got Buddhism.

I love you, and I will always keep you in my heart, and our souls will always stay joint, although in constant conflict. You must know that I am well and that I release music in anonymity so that people will experience that spark we both felt one day, that day when we discovered our musical vessel and set the course toward intellectual freedom.

I know in my heart that you still write music. Do not be afraid of your talent. Like our Pastor used to say: ‘it does not have to be a curse’.

Lastly, the reason I cannot be a Christian is that I find it impossible. A rhyme from Method Man comes to mind:

“Brothers want to hang with the Meth,
bring the rope,
the only way to hang is by the neck”.

I always think people don’t realize this when they think Christians of themselves. I hope you fare better.

Your friend,

One of the Sons of Belial.

P.S. Karla says hello. We have been living together ever since I ran away.


Today, Juan sheds a tear and smiles. He starts playing Bohemian Rhapsody, without telling his students the name of the song. He has been praying every day for Mauricio’s salvation, regretting the day he misguided the youth in Madrid. But today he is playing, looking to sow the spark Mauricio once shared with him into the minds of his students, and he is regretting that moment he vowed not to compose music again… a promise he made to God for fear of failing him again. And yet, he smiles!



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Juvencio’s Zenith Bed


Juvencio was studying law because his father told him to. His father had become rich as a merchant that “got lucky” in the 1980s, back when people were only starting to grasp big business. Juvencio did not care much for law, but he wanted to be a politician, just like Julius Caesar, and studying law was a good starting point for a career in politics. When he was a little boy, his father told him:

“This is the best book you’ll ever read”, and he rapped on a little desk with a leatherbound Roman history book, “this is the only thing that you should care about in this life… to have power”.

Juvencio fell in love with that word: power. It made him feel special and strong, and he felt he could be a better kid than the rest of them because he had this powerful book on his desk. In the first grade, he punched a kid on the nose because he told him that reading books was for nerds. The toucan-nosed bleeding kid threw Juvencio to the ground, punched him once in the eye, brushed his nose with his fingers, and smeared the blood on Juvencio’s mouth.

“You’re a frickin nerd”, and he got up because the teacher was coming for him, “I don’t care, he started it”.

“Hey, Juvencio got emasculated!”, cried a kid with huge, thick glasses, “that means he’s a girl!”.

From the thirty kids that watched their most violent scene in life yet, fifteen of them felt powerless, ten of them laughed at Juvencio, and the other five just stood there, wondering what had happened. Juvencio learned two things that day: one, that you cannot punch a bully on the nose and not keep on hitting him; and two, that the weakest, thinnest, and most frightful kid in school thought he was a girl because of this public beating. He cried the whole time he was in the infirmary – a little corner in the principal’s office with a first-aid kit. Then he bawled when his mother came to pick him up. He felt ashamed and said: “I promise you, mom, that next time I will beat him”. Both the principal and his mom gasped and told him that what he did was wrong, that both he and the long-nosed bully had ‘resorted to violence’ instead of talking about it.

Now, thirteen years later, a girl was asking him how much time he spent at the gym, and how did he manage to be such a hunk while also having the best grades in the class. “It’s all determination and laser-like focus”, Juvencio said, puffing out his chest, “this is the only way to be powerful in life”. The girl stared at him for a second, repeating and savoring that word, ‘powerful’, and said: “I’m throwing a party this Saturday; you should totally come”. “Sure, I’ll bring my girl”. Laser-like focus and determination.

That same day he took the public bus home because he wanted to experience common people’s lives. That summer he would start attending political rallies and enroll in the Institutional Revolutionary Party as soon as this second semester at the faculty finished. His father objected to his idea of living like a commoner. It was not ideal, and he ‘definitely did not need to grow sympathy for these people’. But Juvencio was determined, and there was no stopping a guy that wanted power so badly. It was his sole reason for existing, and he wanted to be respected, and as he learned in that thick, leatherbound book, he just needed to be charismatic and strong. Unlike Julius Caesar, though, he did not have to start off on his own. He was a Bonange after all. “Luck is needed to be powerful”, Juvencio accepted this statement as a mantra in his teenage mind.

Back in the first grade, a week after he took a beating by the class bully, he started convincing his classmates that it was not fair that this kid, although bigger and stronger than them, should be taking advantage of every one of them. “He takes our money, he cuts in line, he says he’ll punch us if we try to take the ball away from him while playing football… we should all teach him a lesson”. At first, the kids were all afraid, but Juvencio started telling them stories about Rome:

“There was this guy that ruled the ancient city of Rome”, he would say, imitating the grandeur in his father’s voice when he got a little tipsy and wanted to impress his son, “and he was so powerful that everyone was afraid of him. But they all got together and stabbed him!”.

The kids were intrigued. They were getting convinced that they could all beat this bully, together. The toucan-nosed bully would come and try to hear what they were talking about, but Juvencio would run away as soon as he saw him, and all the other kids too. The bully would punch a kid in the stomach, kick another one in the shin, and day after day everyone was growing tired of him.

“They don’t do anything to him because he’s the principal’s son”.

“Yeah, he’s the son of that old hag. She stinks!”, Juvencio cried, “let’s all punch him!”.

Some kids ran to tell the bully that the whole class was planning on beating him up. “They’re a bunch of fags, they won’t do anything!”, the long-nosed kid said. But that recess they all charged at him and knocked him to the ground. One kid pressed on his right arm, another on his left arm, and the fattest kid sat on his legs. The bully’s friends tried to stop them, but they were also knocked down to the ground by the rest of them.

“Now, Juvencio, punch him!”.

“No, don’t punch me, it’s not fair!”, the bully shrieked.

And Juvencio sat on his chest and punched him once in the eye, just like he had been punched before.

“The teacher’s coming, run!”, a kid yelled, waving at them, “Run!”.

And they all got up and tried to hide wherever they could. Some hid in the restroom stalls, some climbed up to some trees, others went to the back of the classrooms, and Juvencio tried to hide in the library, but some kids that were already there pushed him out and said: “It was your idea, get out!”. Juvencio felt betrayed just like Julius Caesar, and he learned two lessons that day as well: that you can be the most powerful guy and still get taken down, and that you could plan something, but everyone would rat you out if they felt threatened. The teacher grabbed him. “Don’t you dare run, anymore, Juvencio”, and took him straight to the principal’s office. The principal was horrified. The bully’s friends had already told her about everything, and she was mad like a turkey. Her neck’s skin dangled when she yelled, and she started scolding Juvencio.

“Don’t you know that gangs are dangerous? Is that what you want to be, a gangbanger? I will have to suspend you for a week!”, and her neck’s skin just kept dangling like a turkey’s. “Let’s see what your mom will think about this!”.

His parents came to a special meeting where they accused him of being a potential gangbanger. His father was enraged. How could she talk like that about a six-year-old kid? They were just trying to get back at the bully. It was her son’s fault, after all! Still, they suspended him, and the bully too. But Juvencio was glad to be suspended, he would be able to read his ‘essential’ book the whole week, with no stupid reading lessons in-between. “Most of my classmates are dumb, they still don’t know how to read!”, Juvencio said to his father, and he started feeling proud of his son. He was going to be a fine politician one day.

While riding the bus he felt courageous, without a care in the world for that brief moment, and he tried to talk to the old man sitting next to him:

“Hello! How are you this fine day?”. Juvencio said, and the old man mumbled something incoherent, “What did you think of the Lamb’s speech last week?”.

“I don’t give a fuck about that faggot thief”, said the old man with a hoarse voice, “don’t talk to me, I want to sleep”.

Juvencio was surprised. He was surprised that he did not feel anger because they had insulted his idol the Lamb, or because the old man told him to let him sleep. “Who sleeps on a bus?”, he’d say to his girlfriend later that day. He rose and sat next to a girl that was two rows in front of him. This girl was wearing a gray hoodie, a pair of fat, black Vans, and she had a checkered pair of pants. Juvencio felt she was getting uneasy.

“Hello! What’s your name?”.

“It’s… it’s… Frida”, answered the girl, almost trembling. “What do you want?”.

“I just want to talk with you”.

“I don’t have a cellphone, so I can’t give you my number and I can’t go out with you”, the girl said as she was putting on her hood, “please get away from me”, she whispered, “I don’t want to cause a scene”.

This made Juvencio feel scared. Was he one of those sex offenders now? He stood up and politely asked the driver to stop at the next ‘station’. “Next time just yell: I’m getting down”, said the driver. A pair of teenagers were laughing at him, mocking him for being rejected. Another old man yelled as Juvencio was going out the door: “she probably doesn’t like fags with cute shirts!”. He stood in front of a market plaza, started loitering around the block, and everyone stared at him. It was clear that he was completely out of place, and he started feeling afraid of getting robbed, even in broad daylight, so he called an Uber. The car arrived, and he got inside, dumbfounded.

“Can I ask you something?”, Juvencio asked the Uber driver, stuttering.

“Sure, man, what’s up?”.

“I was riding a bus today, and I tried talking to this girl, and she said to get away from her, that she didn’t want to cause a scene. I mean, I can’t understand what happened”.

“Well, she got scared, man. How old was she?”.

“She looked about sixteen”.

“Sixteen? Just the right age”, and Juvencio could see the guy was smirking, “maybe they’ve harassed her before and she’s paranoid, you know how girls get”.

“You think so?”.

“Well, yeah. It’s very common”.

“But, like, why?”, Juvencio asked bewildered.

“Are you for real?”, the Uber driver was shocked, “lots of creeps on buses, man. Was she hot, though?”.

Juvencio remained silent for the rest of the ride, thinking about that poor girl, and those mocking teenagers, and that old man that yelled at him. The town was very different from what he had imagined. Had he been living inside a bubble for these last 18 years? He thanked the driver, got out of the car, and went straight to his room, without saying hello to his mother who was sitting in the living room. Last summer he had attended a party in honor of the Lamb, and everyone there was happy and hopeful for the future. Many people were singing praise of the Lamb, saying that their businesses will thrive under his care, that the government would give many opportunities to their children, and many things more. He kept thinking about that drowsy old man that cursed out the Lamb. “He’s probably just an ignorant man, a drunkard even”. Juvencio said to himself: “yeah, they don’t want to strive for anything, they’re probably too lazy to pursue their dreams… if they have any”. And so, he called his girlfriend, Samantha, eager to tell her about this experience:

“Hey, Sam, you won’t guess what happened to me at the bus today”.

“Hey, babe, what happened?”, Sam said with that shrill voice that Juvencio loved.

“Some old dude cursed out the Lamb and told me to leave him alone, that he wanted to sleep… on the bus!”, Juvencio said with the same excitement in his voice as when he went to the zoo for the first time in Guadalajara and saw some gorillas, “I also overheard some guys saying that this town is fucked, that there is nothing to do and that employment is going to get even worse!”.

“He wanted to sleep on the bus?”, Sam started snorting, “that’s so funny. And those guys sound like every other lazy-ass bitch, complaining that there are not enough jobs. My mom started working at a Michoacana serving ice cream, and now she runs a fruit company! They just don’t want to put the work in”. The truth was that her mother married a rich guy with a fruit company that hit on her one night when she was 16. But that is a story for another day.

“Exactly! And anyway, that was it, I guess”, and he paused for a second, remembering the girl, “yeah, that was it. The public bus is a weird place”.

“Yeah, it’s full of weird people”, Sam emphasized the word ‘weird’ and spoke as if she was asking a question.

“And they invited me to a party today. Do you want to go?”, omitting the fact that a girl invited him right after she had lusted over him.

“Yes!”, Sam shrieked, “let’s go! I’m going to get ready, pick me up at nine”.

“Okay, babycakes”.

Juvencio was enthusiastic about going to the party. He wanted to talk to people about politics, about business opportunities, and about cool places to visit. He laid on his bed, staring at the glass ceiling. As a kid, he won a contest held by a local newspaper. The contestants had to write down some words dictated by a woman that looked too smart to work at a newspaper, and then they would go through a bunch of newspapers and cut words off them. The words themselves had to be related to certain themes, specifically of politics. Then, they would put the words in an envelope, and the judges would decide who was the kid with the most related words.

“This is a bunch of crap, who the hell wants to learn French anyways!”, yelled another contestant that looked like a little red goblin, “this is a lame-ass contest!”.

All the other kids stared at him, and they started laughing. Juvencio did not. For him, language was not a laughing matter because it was the tool that would get him appointed governor of Sonora one day. The judges said that the kid that looked like a red goblin was disqualified, and the little guy gladly left, prancing like a deer. “What a dumb kid!”, thought Juvencio, “good riddance, though, I’m one step closer to victory”.

All the contestants continued cutting away hard-to-pronounce words. Their little peanut brains were on the verge of frying, but not Juvencio’s. He was determined to look for the best word to go along with the theme “Rise to Power”. He was smiling as he pointed his finger below the sentence he was reading, knowing that he would find the best word. He thought of the Republic, of Roman legions, of Goths, of Caius Pompey’s defeat, of Vercingetorix, and how Caesar’s army defeated his. That was the last of the words he needed. He heard a judge say that time was running out. Frantically, he started turning the pages, looking for a word that could perfectly describe “Rise to Power”. He was about to give up when he came across a Jeep ad and cut out the car’s name.

When they declared him the winner his eyes started glowing, beaming with happiness, knowing that he was one step closer to being like Julius Caesar.

“Congratulations, Juvencio Bonange. You have won the scholarship for learning French, and you have won a brand-new Personal Computer. Now tell us, do you have a favorite book? You obviously read a lot, you know a lot of words for a ten-year-old!”.

“Thank you! First of all, I am honored to be in this contest”, kid Juvencio said as his father was looking at him proudly, “and now to answer your question… my favorite book is Rubicon!”.

“Wow, I am amazed. You won because of that word, and now I see why”, said the woman that looked too smart to be working in a lousy, partisan newspaper, “I read that book in college and here we have a little boy that says it’s his favorite book! Congratulations, Juvencio, you will be a great scholar one day”.

“Not a scholar, a politician!”, Juvencio yelled to the whole audience. He was ecstatic.

That day had been the most important, even until now, in Juvencio’s life. Not only did he win a PC and a scholarship for learning French, which he thought was useless because Italian was the closest thing to Latin, but he asked his father for a glass ceiling over his room, just like the one Arnold from Hey Arnold! had. His father looked at him, smiled, and said: “I always wonder if you’re still a boy, and thank god you still are one. I’ll set you that glass ceiling. Congratulations, son!”. And now, eight years later, he was smiling as he looked up to the summer sky, remembering that early victory that proved that he was an apt reader, and a future scholar, according to that woman who said to his parents after the contest that this win “really set him apart from other kids in Hermosillo”.

He got up, smiled, and took a shower. He thought of all the things he’d ask people at the party, of how he’d try to be more charismatic, on what he’d say to the children of the Lamb. “Baby, the Magallanes are going to be there!”. Ernesto Magallanes was the IRP’s candidate for state governor. This party was being held in one of the houses he had over the city, the one where his children lived. He had three legitimate sons and one legitimate daughter. He had almost a dozen bastards scattered all over the city. Apparently, the bastards knew each other because their mothers would gossip ever since they were born. Besides, how else would three women live like they did, without working a single day in their lives? Surprisingly the three had inherited a “generous fortune”, and they all lived in nice neighborhoods. Hermosillo had three luxurious neighborhoods, and Ernesto had one lover in each one of these.

This new house, where the real family lived, was built in front of an artificial lake, right in the middle of the desert. It was a small lake, but the people of Hermosillo were enraged to know that “high society” families now had a lake of their own, in addition to their personal swimming pools, their equestrian fields, and a huge wall separating them from the “scum” of the town. But Juvencio thought that each one of these families deserved their fortunes. He and his friends’ forefathers had worked hard to give their children a better life. Why would he not use this advantage, why would he feel ashamed of coming from money? So he put all his insecurities aside for the night, said goodbye to his parents, started the engine of his Viper, and went to pick up his girl.

The party had already started when Juvencio and Samantha arrived. The front door was huge, and there was not a fence nor a gate. It was just a front lawn covered with gnomes, elves, and goblins. Some of the gnomes were picking up diamonds from the ground, and one old gnome was leading a bunch of young gnomes with his lantern. “Whoa, that lantern is really lit”, Juvencio said. “So cool, babe!”, Sam said. In the middle, there was a rocky path, surrounded by Mondell pines. It seemed like the Lamb loved forests and fantastical creatures. To the right side of the path were some elves, with gilded hair, brandishing swords, fending off hordes of little red and green goblins with long, jet black nails. As you were passing the pines, if you looked to the sides, you’d think the creatures were fighting with each other or crafting weapons with their newly acquired diamonds.

The music was so loud that Juvencio and Samantha heard it from one block away, and now as they were standing in front of the door, they did not know what to do and they could barely hear each other’s voices. Sam turned a huge, beautiful, and bejeweled knob, and the door opened. There were some people grabbing some beers from the fridge, a couple of girls were standing next to a room which they assumed was the bathroom, and some guys were lying on the sofas in the living room, stoned out of their minds. Juvencio and Sam looked up to the ceiling that the stoners were staring at, and they saw a beautiful skylight that was letting the moonlight right in the center of the low-lit living room.

“Hey, Sam, I didn’t know I’d see you here!!”, yelled a bubbly girl from the glass door that led to the backyard, “we’re all in the back, except for these junkies. Is that your boyfriend? Oh my god, this is the first time we’ve met, right? I’m Michelle”.

“Hi, Michelle, I’m Juvencio”.

“Oh, I know your name. You’re the top law student in the state!”.

“Bitch! Quit fooling around and give me a cigarette”, said Sam with that beautiful smile that made Juvencio fall in love with her, “and give us a beer while you’re at it. Top law student in the state, like you even know what law is, stupid”.

“Well, it’s true isn’t it? That’s what Edgar Magallanes said!”.

Juvencio’s eyes lit up with the embers that once lifted his spirits to the Fields of Elysium as a kid. Being known by Edgar Magallanes, the Lamb’s son, was one of the best things that could happen to a young, energetic, and ambitious man in Hermosillo. And even better, being acknowledged as the top law student in the state. Or at least that is what they all repeated to each other ad nauseam. If you were buds with a Magallanes you were set for life in that godforsaken town.

Michelle grabbed some beers from the fridge, and the three of them went outside. The backyard was huge. It was fifty meters away from the lake, and they even had a little pier for every home. There were no fences, nobody stole anything in that neighborhood. People were scattered all around, some were beside the lake, near its bank, admiring the moonlight. There was a DJ stationed somewhere along the left side of the backyard, playing some repetitive and boring beats you can hear at a HOSTEL AMSTEL event, or at a Steve Aoki’s concert. Those in front of the station were dancing, sweating off the drugs they took earlier, some were just nodding their heads with their beers in hand, and some girls were supposedly dancing, lifting their cigarette with one hand, their beer cup with the other one, and swaying from side to side. It was a hot night, and you could tell everyone was drenched in sweat. If you looked to the right side, though, it looked like a completely different party altogether. There were some white couches where a lot of rich-looking guys were passionately discussing something. The expensive shirts with their sleeves rolled up to the elbows, a Rolex, pastel-colored Polo Ralph Lauren shorts, and the designer loafers all together cost more than putting that glass roof over little Juvencio’s head. There were around a hundred people in the party, and in the middle of the ostentatious youth, Edgar Magallanes stood. That night he turned 24.

Michelle dragged the couple to the dancing side, where all the freshmen were having the night of their lives. Now that they were a little bit closer to the lake Juvencio could tell that the silhouettes near the lake were fucking. “They were just fucking out there in front of everybody!”, Juvencio would repeat to himself in the coming years.

I’m a savage.

Classy, bougie, ratchet,

Sassy, moody, nasty.

All the girls were trying to twerk, but not in vain because they were the next girls to go make love next to a lake under the moonlight. The girl from Juvencio’s class spotted him, blurted out something that they all assumed was his name, and came up to them, threw her arms around him, and yelled: “OH MY GOD, you did come!”. He quickly took her arms away from him and looked at Samantha, who already had a face of disgust. “Don’t even look at me, I’m going to dance all night, get lost”.

Juvencio did not want to waste his opportunity to go into the major league, so he didn’t say anything and headed straight to those promising couches where the future of Hermosillo stood proudly.

“Here comes Juvencio, guys. If you ask me about those goddamned figures on my dad’s lawn, I swear to you I’ll drown you in the lake, fucker”, said Edgar, halfway drunk with a cheering chorus of young men’s laughter, “I’m kidding, I’m kidding. But I really am sick of that question. Go ask the Lamb why he’s so obsessed with this geek shit. So anyways, fags, this is Juvencio, he’s going to be a real pal one day, I know it”.

Juvencio felt giddy around so many drunk people, but he knew that Edgar was staring at him in a weird way. He did not care, though. He was going to be a real pal one day, so he started greeting everyone with a wave, but the guys did not care.

“Finish the story, man, what happened with the blonde?”, one of society’s fellas screeched.

“Oh, yeah. So, I had fucked this black girl before, right, so I was fucking tired. That girl made me blow my last load and I just lay there on the bed, and I had completely forgotten that this blonde bitch was coming up to my room. I kicked the black girl out, and the bitch said: whatever, ass. Can you believe that bitch? Right after I spanked that fat ass leaving my hands engraved on it like a motherfucking meteor site, and right after she rode me for like an hour too. So I hurried to the bathroom, took some Viagra, and called the blonde. This girl had the juiciest tits I’ve ever seen in my life. Like I wanted to build a boat out of them motorboating tit-ays. So, me fucking her, I feel that my dick is about to burst, and as soon as I’m ready to release the jizz-stream, she yells I’m going to cum, Brandon. I came a second later, and I started fucking laughing. I asked her: bitch, who the fuck is Brandon? Then, all of a sudden, I shit you not, they start knocking on my room, and I hear an American voice telling me to open the goddamned door or that he would break it down. I took the bitch by the hair, dragged her to the other room where my buddies were fucking, and threw her out from the other room’s door. She was completely naked, and I hear fucking Brandon being all loud with a bellboy. Me and my buddies all froze, thinking that we were going to get our shit beaten out by some Social Network jocks that row crew or some shit like that, and then we hear a noise that we all assumed was Brandon punching the bellboy. After ten seconds we hear some hurried footsteps charging through the hall, sounds of blows and hits to the wall, and I dared to go and look outside, and there were like twenty security guys beating the shit out of the jocks, and the big-tits-girl was bellowing like a pig that’s about to be slaughtered”.

All the guys started laughing, yelling, and mocking the Americans. They must have yelled ‘Shit, I cannot believe this’ so many times that somewhere in the States Brandon and the blonde had to tell their parents that it had, indeed, happened that way. After that spring break anecdote where Edgar almost lost his beloved member, all the college boys started talking in groups of three at the most. Some were loitering, and some were going back to the DJ station to dance. And now Juvencio tried to get inside the group where Edgar was talking, and to his surprise he waved at him, inviting him over.

“So, Juvencio, I heard you want to join the party. You must know that it is a big commitment with even bigger rewards. After my dad wins, it’s going to be a sweet ride from there on out. But remember that only the people that put the work in are going to be rewarded. It’s not even a fair distribution, it’s not proportional to your effort. It’s only for the people that really put the work in, got it?”.

“Yeah, man, I got it”.

And then they started talking about all the parties that they would throw in Mexico City, in Guadalajara, in Monterrey, in the States, in Europe. The money would just flow and flow. It was at this moment that Juvencio knew he had been chosen. This group of prodigal sons were all the children of the IRP’s top guns, but apparently they worked real hard. Juvencio could not believe his eyes when he saw that the worst students, and the dumbest people he had ever met in his brief life, were in this small group of the state’s future leaders. At least five of them had flunked at least ten subjects in college, and even then, they still graduated. Last Christmas a cousin told him that the only the worst pieces of shit in Hermosillo became the political heads of the state, but it was until that moment that he realized what his cousin meant. It’s not that they were just corrupt and privileged, it wasn’t that simple. They were the fucking princes of the state, and this high society had formed since the birth of the town. Sure, some were outsiders, but most of them were the descendants of the hacendados of the olden days, the guys that stripped the indigenous tribes of their land. He recognized the future heir of the country’s biggest date company, among many other men that were pegged as the town’s corrupt seeds. So why was he chosen, him being an outsider?

He finished his second beer, and he was already feeling dizzy. It was his third time drinking, and he knew he would have to keep it up if he wanted to get on these guys’ good side. They were prattling, and most of them were mumbling words among their inebriated sentences. Edgar started talking about Julius Caesar. He stated the obvious facts, like how Julius had to fight his way to the top, even though he was born a noble, or how he successfully managed Cleopatra, and how she was ‘ugly as fuck’. The more and more he spoke, the more Juvencio felt disappointed. Here was the future prince of Hermosillo, a seat so frequently shared that it did not matter that much as his cousin thought, and he was just a fact-spouter. What’s even worse is that he was stating some events wrong.

“No, Vercingetorix united the Gauls to fight against Julius Caesar’s invasion, but only for that time. He wasn’t a ruler”, Juvencio rebutted Edgar’s statement, “he did not want to rule anything outside of his tribe”.

They all looked confused, and they stared at Juvencio with disapproval. Nobody ever said anything to contradict Edgar because it just wasn’t worth the risk of getting kicked out of the IRP. But Juvencio had a lot of experience with punching bullies in the eye or taking all the time needed to gather his thoughts and sculpt a strong argument. Edgar laughed and admitted his mistake, winking at Juvencio. After that honest mistake, they all started asking Juvencio questions about Rome, and how he’d compare some of their history to ancient Rome’s. He spoke lengthily about his first idol, Julius Caesar. Then, Edgar chimed in the discussion, spouting yet more dubious facts.

“You know, I love reading essays about him, and this one in particular, my favorite, argues that Julius Caesar did not feel his glory until he lay on his regal bed, with many concubines, Servilia, and Mark Anthony, watching him relax among a myriad of pillows and cushions”.

Juvencio burst out laughing. He outright slapped his leg and cackled, the now six beers inside him taking effect on his inner personality.

“Man, that shit is a satirical essay. I read it too, it’s just for kicks”, and he started laughing again, but now nobody laughed with him. Edgar looked like he was fuming like a goblin under a pillager moon.

“It’s not satirical, it’s true. My father loves that essay too. Hell, I wrote about it in college, as a turning point for one of my essays. How can you say that it is not true, when we know Julius Caesar loved fucking?”, and everyone turned their eyes towards Juvencio, expectant of his reply.

“I mean, who doesn’t love that? But that’s not the point. The essay is mocking the people that base all their theories and theses on sex, that’s why they say that he only felt accomplished when he slept on his regal bed, with all of Rome’s important people watching. They even claim he said some ridiculous, famous words”, Juvencio replied, and the eyes now fixated on Edgar.

“Behold, for I never felt accomplished until I this moment, when I lie on this regal bed in the heart of Rome”, Edgar recited the alleged words, “it is in this moment that I have reached my life’s zenith”.

“See? Those are the words of a facetious writer, a man that was egged by his fellow academics to write something so stupid”, and now the mouths started jeering at Edgar.

“You know, you’d be surprised by the importance of sex in politics”, the Lamb’s son said, with the exact same tone that his father used in his speeches, “you’d be shocked to know what happens here in the state”.

“Hey, man, cool it, it’s a friendly discussion. Chill out, man, take a hit”, a guy said from among the group as he passed a blunt, “we’re all friends here”.

“We’re cool, man, we’re cool”, and Edgar offered his fist to Juvencio so they’d fist-bump.

Juvencio did not say another word for the whole night. He reserved himself to laugh at the dumb jokes, at the ridiculous anecdotes, and at the outright blatant lies that these juniors of society told until dawn came. That night, without him knowing, Juvencio started rising inside the party, even without being an affiliate yet. But he felt so excited that he didn’t even notice that his would-be ex-girlfriend was fucking a self-proclaimed artist next to the lake, like a bored French housewife of society, as she would later say she felt that night.

For the next year Juvencio would impact the Lamb’s campaign in a huge way, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The next day all of Hermosillo’s elite were hungover. There was a sepulchral silence that amazed even the most alcoholic veterans of the town. Some left at around 7 am, others at 8 am, when the sun shining over their faces became so unbearable that they had to wake up, no matter the exhausted they felt. The sight was a funny one, for dozens of young people were crawling, almost trying to walk, with vomit on their shirts and with irregular dabs of makeup on their faces, the product of gratuitous sex next to a lake that did not look so romantic under the daylight.

The next, next day, Edgar called Juvencio, invited him over to his home, and insisted on him coming as soon as possible. Juvencio got up, took the fastest shower of his life, and head straight to the Magallanes’. There he passed through the same rocky pathway, but this time he saw a completely new set of figurines as he looked to the sides. Now the elves were running away from the goblins, and to the left, the dwarves looked befuddled over some pillaging that had taken place, with not a single diamond left in sight. “They have some strange quirks in this family”, Juvencio thought. Someone opened the door. It was the Lamb himself.

“Hello, hello! We were expecting you. My son tells me you want to join the IRP, and I’m more than excited to welcome you”, the Lamb said with a huge, fake smile on his face. Juvencio was perplexed.

“Ye.. yes, that is true. I want to be an asset for the party”, Juvencio replied, his face turning red, “is Edgar there?”.

“Yes, he’s in the living room. Follow me…”, and they both walked to the living room through a corridor that looked even better in the day. There, in the couches where the junkies were smoking at the party, sat Edgar. The living room looked immaculate.

“Hey, Juvencio. We have some good news and some bad news”, Edgar said enthusiastically, “the bad news is that our brilliant, exquisite guy that wrote my dad’s speeches died the night of the party”, Juvencio looked confused, “didn’t you hear? He drowned in the lake, drunk as a sailor, inside his father’s Escalade. May he rest in peace”, and he crossed himself, “and the good news is that since you showed me that you are a bright fellow, capable of teaching even academics on matters of ancient Rome, I proposed to my father that you become our speech-writer”.

“And I said: let’s keep going forward!”, and the Lamb stretched out his hand to Juvencio who, still amazed at the stoicism of the party, didn’t even have a chance to say anything, but he nodded. “Excellent, let’s keep going forward!”.

Edgar insisted on Juvencio coming every day of this week so that they could both work on the speech for the upcoming rallies. So, they started working right away, in a basement room that was repurposed as a poker and billiards room. Edgar said that they should only work for two hours, and then start drinking some scotch. That first night Juvencio puked after having drunk half a bottle of Balvenie 21. Now it was Edgar that was slapping on his leg, mocking Juvencio. Sometimes the Lamb came to the basement, smoking a cigar, and sharing a good-hearted laugh with his son and his new friend. The second day Juvencio was starting to get along with Edgar, and they seemed like old pals. The young man that aspired to be like Julius Caesar started pontificating on language: “we need words that empower the people, that will motivate them to do better. Did you know that Seneca’s oratory shook the spirit of his people? That centuries later Winston Churchill would do the same with the English language? It was Shakespeare’s tongue that won the Second World War, you know! We need powerful statements so that people can overcome their poverty!”. Edgar just nodded and said ‘yeah, yeah’, over and over again. He always thought it was just the scotch talking, but the next day, the third time they got together, he understood that Juvencio really believed in bettering the state. “This sucker thinks we really are working for the people”, Edgar said to his father, later that night, “but read this, it’s done, it’s great! He finished earlier, the little devil!”. And the next day, at the fourth work session, the Lamb personally congratulated Juvencio on a work well done. They drank heavily that afternoon, so much that after Juvencio puked again, they kept drinking and drinking. After hours of speaking nonsense, the Lamb explained to him that this was a tradition of his family, since his great-great-grandfather, where he would drink until oblivion, only to wake up on Sunday, right before the first rally that started Monday. Juvencio passed out after this confession, and he woke up two days later, wondering if it had all been a dream. He tiptoed around a passed-out Lamb and his son. He left the house, smirking, confident in him now being an asset for the IRP.

A year passed and Juvencio was already doing great things for the party. Throughout the campaign tour, they both became close friends. Rally after rally the IRP became the obvious winner in the forthcoming elections for state governor. Every town got to hear Juvencio’s speech:

“Hiya, folks! I’m Ernesto Magallanes, but everybody calls me the Lamb. You may be saying that I’m just another crooked politician that wants to take the money out of your pocket, that maybe I just came here to speed up that process. I even heard some people saying that they might as well just line up so that I can collect everyone’s income while my team’s giving out groceries”, and the Lamb took a long pause, pointing both his index fingers up to the sky, “well, today you cannot be more wrong. I was born in a town like this, and I know what it’s like to feel the sweat on my forehead under a summer sun. I know what it’s like to suffer from a simple cold because there’s no medicine in town, let alone a doctor. You ask the mayor for support, and he says it’s the state’s duty. You ask the governor for support, filling up a letter just the way the bureaucrats like it so it can get stuffed under a pile of ‘pending issues’ of another made-up department. But now…”, he placed his hands on the podium, “but now! Now you have a chance to have a real friend that understands you, a friend that will care for your children. Now wouldn’t you like that, mother?”, he said, stretching out his hand to an elderly woman sitting in the front, “wouldn’t you like that, young man? I know what it’s like to see your loved ones fall into the clutches of corruption, to see them flashing ostentatious jewelry, brand new cars, only to know that they are driving towards their death. I too saw my father toil every day of his life only to have his pension stolen so some useless, government leech could send his fifteen-year-old daughter to the Europes. They promise you fish, but they hand you a snake…”.

Every time the Lamb recited his speech Juvencio could imagine the day when he would be up on that podium, promising the people that things would get better. He was convinced that the Lamb would work day and night to make this state a prosperous one, where the government would invest in their citizens, giving every little child the opportunity to rise above poverty, to dream of a better future, and to give up that lazy state of mind that prevailed inside all the citizens, politicians included. This was the last time Ernesto would recite his speech, so he felt prouder than ever. He had done a great job, and every single time Edgar would congratulate him. This time, though, he went up to him and said:

“Juvencio, you truly are an asset for this party. My father is A-MAZED with you!”.

“Thank you, man. Thank you for believing in me and for giving me this chance!”.

“You did it yourself, you don’t have to thank me”. And Edgar got closer to Juvencio. They were both watching from behind the stage.

“And you know, citizens of Cumpas, that every peso is going to get counted and allotted exactly to where it belongs…”

“Your father is fantastic!”.

“You’re fantastic”, and Edgar took Juvencio by the waist.

“Be it for your children’s medicine!”

“What are you doing, man?”.

“Be it for your children’s schools!”

“I just had to make sure you were really committed to me and my father”.

“Be it for your children’s security!”.

“What do you mean?”, and he felt his left buttock get squeezed, “what the fuck are you doing?”.

“Every peso will COUNT!”.

And as the Lamb raised his hands, being acclaimed by the ecstatic public, showered with applause, Edgar kissed Juvencio on the neck, gave him a good licking, and whispered to him: “you’re one of us now”. The young, outsider man that wanted to be like Julius Caesar now knew why he was chosen.

A month passed and the Lamb won by a landslide. He was now the most powerful man in the state, and his son was his right-hand. “Now we can kick that fat-lipped hooker out of the palace”, Ernesto said as he started the celebration party at home, his last day there before moving to the governor’s house. He publicly congratulated Juvencio for writing the ‘best-goddamned campaign speech’ he had heard in his life. All the other campaign affiliates cheered, applauded, and hugged Juvencio. But he felt uneasy. He wanted to quit the party, but he had heard rumors that young people that tried to do that, after being ‘marked’ by the Lamb’s son, or any of the previous governors for that matter, did not fare well and sometimes were made to disappear. And it did not end there. The families of the young men that did flee were being harassed until today. But they were just rumors, right? How could a party like this persist with such grave accusations, and not a single soul do anything about it? He went to the lake, knowing that Edgar would come to him. He had not seen him since the last rally. It was a beautiful, moonlit night, and the lake was gorgeous. It could make you fall in love with anyone.

“Hey, big-dick, I’ve been waiting for this night”, said a sultry voice in the dark, “and it’s a lovely night”.

“Edgar, you know I’m not gay, I told you last time, I don’t want to have that kind of relationship with you. Why are you doing this?”.

“Don’t play dumb! You knew that this would happen. And this is the best part, so you can just enjoy it!”.

“No! Don’t come near me, I want to talk to you”.

“But I want to do everything but talk”. Edgar said with the sultriness that would make every girl in the state run away from home with him, “come here, I want to lick your whole body”. And as he came closer, Juvencio shoved him away.

“Fuck, Juvencio! Quit resisting, I don’t need to remind you what will happen to your family if you try to do something rash. You weren’t picked for your intelligence! Nobody gives a shit about that in this state. That’s just how we do politics in here, and for me, that’s even better”.

Juvencio recalled that glorious moment he had as a kid, back when he thought justice could be done, and tackled him. He got on top of him and punched him in the eye. He had never struck someone again since he had punched the long-nosed bully, and he knocked him out. He thought of the time he won that word contest and ran straight to the house. Everyone stared at the conspicuous runner, and soon someone yelled that Edgar had been knocked out. He entered the house, and he heard the voice of a little kid yelling: “Hey, Juvencio got emasculated! That means he’s a girl!”. He hurried up the stairs to the second floor, tears flowing through his cheeks, and opened the door of the Lamb’s master bedroom. He searched the closet for a night robe, but he found a scarlet cape instead. He stripped himself to his boxers and draped himself with the cape. He found a golden brooch and used it to fasten his scarlet glory. He crowned himself with a garland that the granddaughter of the Lamb had used for her first communion, and he stood on the bed as he heard the crowd approaching the room, standing with one leg on the footboard.

“Behold, for Caesar never felt accomplished until he stood on his regal bed in the heart of Rome”, Juvencio proclaimed, “it was in that moment that he reached his life’s zenith”.

The crowd just stood there, silently, as if waiting for an actor to deliver his next line. The Lamb and his sluggish son could not believe that they were seeing the brightest law student of the state reciting their favorite essay.

“And this is the only thing that you should care about in this life”, Juvencio took a brief pause, and then shouted with the top of his lungs: “TO HAVE POWER”.




Did you enjoy Juvencio’s Zenith Bed ?

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Handsome… for a Goblin!


Fred was sitting in an office, waiting. His red skin was glowing as if it were brimming with confidence. He was oozing because of the hot summer, but he knew nobody would notice or even care at all. He had handed over his resume the week before, and now the recruiter called him and said that the director was ready to interview him personally. Fred was ready. He heard his name being called: “You can go in, the director’s free right now”.

Fred knew he looked real fine, and he was a handsome goblin too. Lots of goblins had told him over the years that he was the finest reddy they’d ever seen. So he turned that knob with his tiny, red hand, carefully looking out for his long fingernails. The director told him to come in.

“Hello, Fred the Goblin, I was told you were looking for a position here, I’m flattered that you thought of applying to this nice, little agency”.

“Well, you know, you are one of the best modelling agencies in the country”.

“Still, being the only one in Hermosillo, and knowing that you chose us… I feel like I’m drafting the top pick of the year!”.

Fred was smiling, showing his teeth awkwardly, and touching the left side of his chest with his little goblin hand. Only a minute had passed, and he was already sick of this half-elf. “So this fucker called me Fred the Goblin. Shit, Blondie, you’re looking at my fucking name right there on my resume! No need to call me a fucking goblin, I know what I am!”, he would say some hours later to his giggling girlfriend, “Damn… Elves are the worst. Humans are a bit nicer, but they are some greedy bastards. You’d think long-lasting elf-years would incite more of a material greed, but it is the humans that go nuts for gold and jewels and shit”.

“It is an honor to even be considered, Mr. Lightbringer”, Fred said, “Sir, you were rocking the stage even before my grandfather was born.”

“That’s right! I know they seem like a lot of years, but you’ll get along. And you’ll see your life will become fast-paced from now on”, Mr. Lightbringer said, “And I see here that you speak Elvish, that is great! That is just fantastic”.

“Yeah, I taught myself in middle school, I wanted to read the classics”, and Fred felt a little awkward.

“Oh, which are your favorite writers?”.

“Well, you know, Erevadur, Jofanes, Bincy”.

“Ah, that’s real nice, real nice. I haven’t read Jofanes, is he good?”.

“He is great. He was the first author to completely changed my life”.

“Quite the statement! Not as good as Erevadur, though, right?”.

“Two completely different authors…”, Fred said grimacing.

“Anyways, let’s get on to business. You are the best model in Hermosillo, and you have tons of experience. I am impressed. I didn’t imagine you were so well prepared. You are an emerging little rockstar. So tell me: why do you want to be a professional model?”.

Fred kept fidgeting. Why did he feel so nervous? This was not the first important half-elf he had talked to in his life. Besides, Mr. Lightbringer had lost all of his former glory. Fred just wanted this gig to pay some bills. The office was brand new, but kitsch. It had brick walls, with the bricks out in the open, a style he thought was getting out of hand in Hermosillo. Mr. Lightbringer had a round pair of glasses, with little stars, barely noticeable, as a polka dot pattern. His long, shining, blond hair contrasted with his green blazer, like vivid colors of an abstract painting. He had his long fingers intertwined, dandling his thumbs together, and his elbows on the desk. “Mr. Lightbringer is still gorgeous even after all these years”, Fred thought. He recalled that time in elementary school when he participated in an orthography contest. It was a weird event where a local newspaper would gather the best students to write down strange words, and to look for adjectives and weird adverbs in a newspaper, clip them, and store them in an envelope. He hated that contest. “There were many annoying grown-ups”, Fred said to his parents, just nine years old, “they were telling me that I should read books, like the Little Prince or The Chronicles of Narnia. I hate human tales; they are so boring”. The first place won a brand-new PC with a scholarship to learn Elvish. “What is so great about Elvish, anyways?”, little Fred thought.

“I want to be a professional model because I feel I am ready, and it’s always been a dream of mine ever since I was a teenager. I like the attention”.

“Yes! I like that. The attention is what drives you to be better. Where do you see yourself in five years?”

“I want to be a world-class model. I want brands to pursue me because I represent a different and specific style”, Fred said, playing the goblin card.

“Fantastic! I have a feeling that you will achieve it, if you follow my instructions, of course”.

To follow instructions is to win in life, his mother told him when he was a little goblin. He knew he had a thousand elf-butts to kiss before becoming famous. That is why he learned Elvish, but ultimately, he really did love the classics. Jofanes was the first elf to write a modern novel, way back when the races were first starting to get along. He wrote highly of everyone, but especially of goblins, whom he considered had the most outstanding features of all the races. He helped elves and humans understand them.

“I’m willing to offer you the best deal ever for a rookie in the major leagues: 15.000 pesos a month”, said the half-elf expecting a glow in the goblin’s eyes, “of course, I’ll cover any travel expenses outside of the city, as well as meals. This is only the beginning. By the end of the first year we will probably go to the capital, where you’ll be among the best models in the country and the whole world”.

Fred could not believe it. He was the most handsome goblin and had the most experience as a model in the state. “This fucking preppie is going to pay me like a motherfucking marketing manager”, thought Fred. He stared at the slender, three meters tall half-elf, and remembered he had some bills to pay and said: “what the hell, I’m in”.

Mr. Lightbringer stared at him for a second, and then extended his hand. Fred shook it. His little reddy hand looked like a pretty, red robin among branches of a huge, white tree. His nails, jet black. The elf’s nails, Amsterdam green. Fred carefully pushed the chair under the desk, said ‘thank you’, and left. He stopped for a cup of water from a dispenser near the entrance, and he heard Mr. Lightbringer’s voice, down the hall, say: “You know, he is gorgeous… for a goblin. Quite dumb though”. And his secretary started laughing and said: “well, he is a fuckin reddy after all”.

It was night, and the food truck park was already packed full. Many young people were coming in, happy to have a drink, eat something, enjoy some music, and go home wasted. It was the weekend in Hermosillo, after all, and there was nothing to do but go to a bar and get wasted. Fred started walking, in a daze, his head almost bursting, clasping his teeth together. “He is gorgeous… for a goblin!”, he kept repeating to himself, “and what was that shit about speaking Elvish… any dumbass can learn to speak another language. Fuckin secretary bitch too”. He reached for a cigarette inside his blazer’s pocket, lit it, and sat down on a wooden bench. It was then that he remembered that he was in the park, where the little holiday lights made his skin look orange, and his eyes lime green. He hated it. He hated the people there, the smug humans acting like elves, spending their daddy’s salary in a single weekend, drinking craft beer, and eating seafood. But everything that had to do with young business happened there, from modelling to skateboarding, it all happened there with the hipsters.

He looked up and saw this human girl and a half-elf couple ordering a pizza at a food truck. The half-elf had a custom, perfect-fit suit, with a t-shirt white as a summer cloud. The girl was wearing a pink top with white shorts and sandals, showing her pink-painted toenails. “I can practically hear them: ‘you know babe, the idea for my store came to me when I was snowboarding in Switzerland. There is not a skating store here in Hermosillo, so I’m going to set up one’”, thought Fred with a smirk, “and the girl is probably saying: ‘that is a pretty good idea! I’ve always wanted to buy sandboarding gear here, but you just can’t find it anywhere. It sucks! But hey, let’s take a selfie of this moment, us going on our first official date”.

Fred then heard a man pontificating on cinema, sitting in a table nearby: “It’s just that people don’t understand the importance of David Robin’s style. He revolutionized action-packed, deep thinking movies. I’m sure he will win the Oscar this year, no doubt about it in my mind. After that, he can commit seppuku. He’s already in the Pantheon of the Great”. The goblin didn’t even need to look at the guy. He knew he was a 35-year-old-something male with a shirt and khaki shorts, those shoes that look like pieces of bread, and thick glasses to boot. “This man needs to share his cinema knowledge with the whole fucking bar!”, mumbled Fred with a fresh cigarette between his lips, “otherwise us basic people will keep watching superhero movies!”.

He was already fed up with the place. After that disastrous interview, and the low-paying job he took, Fred was fuming like his middle-earth ancestors. He wondered how much he would last as a little goblin plunderer, trying to snatch some meat and women from a local human village, always hiding in caves and being on the run all the time. Millenia had passed and he was glad to live in the present, not having to run away every night from knights and archer elves. Nowadays you ran away from human fascists with automatic rifles, but not in this country. In this country you ducked every time you heard and saw a convoy of black, reinforced, 4×4 pickup trucks, just in case there was a shootout.

“Where is Emily?”, Fred kept wondering, “did she forget?”.

He kept thinking about the country’s situation. He felt it was going to get worse any time soon. Maybe in five years, when the abyss between elves and goblins became inscrutable. He wanted to leave for Canada, start a new life there, maybe as a barista, daydreaming of becoming an actor while serving some rich dude his daily latte. He did not want to be an actor, but serving coffee while daydreaming about it and being able to walk home drunk without a care in the world… that was the easy way out. Emily, on the other hand, did not have anything to worry about. As a half-elf, she had enough money to live on the safe side of the city. Even if a civil war broke out, her family would take her with them to Europe, or wherever they would be safe and comfortable. Hell, it is the goblins’ fault if they all die, right? The last century was proof of that, they thought. “At least the elves don’t lie, they know it was their fault, and the human one percenters’ too”, said Fred to himself.

“Hey! Are you talking to yourself again?”, a bubbly voice appeared out of nowhere. Then he recognized it among the laughing and crying of drunk people, “congratulations, baaaaabe!”.

“Hello, Emily, I thought you’d forgotten. I got the job, Mr. Lightbringer was a real ass”.

“Oh my god! I knew you’d get it. And also, how could you think that, babe?  I know it’s your big day, my beautiful model. Let’s go to the bar already, the guys are all there!”.

The ‘guys’, “bunch of preppie humans and half-elves”. He hated these ‘self-absorbed assholes’. But Emily was sexy, and beautiful, and she was fun. What else do you need at twenty-four? Besides, he was going to leave for Canada, he did not care about their future. “If standing some privileged half-elves, or whatever, is the requisite for having some great sex, then it’s worth it”, he’d say.

They walked to the bar and Emily went rushing to a three-meter tall half-elf, squealing with excitement, and they hugged. “I haven’t seen you in like, forever”. Fred hated that dumb joke. This group gathered every week. “Girl, are you ready to shake your ass to ‘Savage’, you know I’m ready”.

“Bitch, I was born ready! You remember my boyfriend, Fred”.

“Yeah, he’s the handsome model”.

“Hey, Cynthia, nice seeing you again!”, said Fred with fake excitement. “I’m still waiting for that drink you owe me!”

“Oh shit! I kept hoping you’d forget”.

A huge, burly elf grabbed Cynthia from the waist and said: “Hi, I’m Brad. I’m Cynthia’s boo”.

“Oh. My. God. Cynthia, he’s totally gorge! Congratulations, you are the best couple I’ve seen!”, said Emily.

And this is where Fred disconnected from his brain a bit. He knew that a couple of beers in he’d be back, and with a little more cheerfulness. He said hi to Margaret, and to his boyfriend Jerry. This guy was a stocky dwarf, and Margaret was a human girl that spent her whole day at the gym. She wanted to be a fitness model, and Jerry wanted to start a business with someone, preferably with a guy that would party every weekend. Fred had to reject his offer of a business venture yet again.

“So, I finally put down some crypto-investments. I got 3000 dollars worth of Traxals. And here’s the best part: my guy constantly trades it, and the ROI is like 2% a month, how crazy is that?”, shouted Jerry.

“What the fuck is a Traxal?”, Brad blurted out. “Is it like a Bitcoin?”.

“It’s better than a Bitcoin, bro, it’s like their own personal coin that represents a percentage of their volume trade. Whenever they make money I make money. My guy trades all day, and I receive some more Traxals”.

“But why not just buy the Bitcoin or the ETH and store it yourself?”, said Fred, “Those two just grew like 20% last month. Are you also paying your guy?”.

“I pay him a small, monthly fee. What you don’t know is that those two coins are volatile as fuck. The last 6 months I earned 500 dollars worth of Traxals, just from my 2000 dollars investment alone. And besides, I don’t have to do anything”.

“Fuck yeah, dude!”, Brad shouted as he clapped, “can your guy get me in, too?”.

“ETH’s price alone went from around 100 dollars to 400 dollars, why are you paying that guy?”, Fred said, confused as if he was missing a detail there.

“Okay, Brad, yeah, I’ll give your number to my guy. And Fred, like I told you man, my guy does everything, I don’t need to worry. That’s why I pay him. Besides, this is just for fun, I’m going to Mars next summer, so whatever”.

Fred could feel Emily’s ashamed look on him, as if he was the one being stupid. “Anyways,”, said Emily, “Fred is now an official model under the Lightbringer. We’re celebrating here, that’s the big news!”. Everyone cheered and congratulated Fred, but he just kept thinking about that miserable pay he’d get every month. He wasn’t even sure if he wanted to start as a professional model under that guy. They were constantly going to remind him that he was handsome… for a goblin.

“Everyone on this table is probably saying the same thing as Mr. Lightbringer, and now they probably think I’m dumb”, thought Fred, “I’m fucking leaving”.

He went up and said he was going to the restroom, and afterwards he’d go for something he forgot in the car. Everyone was drunk anyways; they didn’t mind much. So he took a piss, he went over to his car, lit a cigarette, and just stood there, looking at Mars. It was visible that night, and he loved seeing that red spot in the night sky. He was tired of being just that goblin that got lucky, with a glamorous future ahead of him – after 5 years of torture and sexual harassment, of course –. He finished his smoke and went back to the table. There was another friend there, a gay human male.

Hey, babe, it’s Gabriel”.

“Hello, nice to meet you, I’m Fred”.

“Hi! Emily and I go waaaay back. We were besties in middle school, you know. She was always there for me, and when I finally mustered up the courage to come out, it was all thanks to her”.

Awwww, you’re gonna make me cry, Gabe!”.

“Yeah, she’s told me all about it, that’s what I like about her, she’s got a big heart”, Fred said, smiling. He had forgotten this side of Emily.

“I know, she’s the best!”, Gabriel said, looking straight into Emily’s eyes. You could almost reach out and touch this genuine love. “Congratulations, by the way! I’ve seen your shots; you are a going to be a great model!”.

“Thank you!”, and this time Fred really meant it.

Brad and Jerry were talking about the parties they used to go to when they were in high school and college, and the girls were gossiping about some friends Fred didn’t know at all. Gabriel was really bored, but Fred didn’t know what to say to him. “For a gay guy he’s quite reserved”, Fred thought.

“So, what do you do, Gabriel?”, Fred asked, “I think Emily mentioned you were a doctor?”.

“Yeah, I’m a surgeon. I’ve just graduated, in fact”.

“This celebration should be about you, then!”.

“It’s not that big of a deal. I mean, I love it, but I know it’s only the beginning”.

“I see”, Fred said, wondering what to ask him next, “So, is it true that doctors are some horny motherfuckers?”.

“Yeah, they are! I must have had like 20 colleagues trying to hit it with me. I’m not like that though. I had a boyfriend for like 5 years, but after a while we got a little bit bored with each other. Just the same thing over and over again, you know? And then, he cheated on me”.

“Oh man, I’m sorry. When did it happen?”.

“Don’t worry, it was a long time ago. I still wonder whether I’ll marry or even just stay in a long-term relationship again. It felt fantastic, but the monotony of it just chewed off what we had. The last week we were together felt dry, pointless. But hey, that’s just me”.

“It’s okay, I understand. I mean, everyone doubts their relationship from time to time, right?”.

“I came to the conclusion that it was his fault. He just stopped being nice, he took me for granted, and all those cliches you can hear from old, divorced ladies”. They both laughed, and Gabriel said “he was a pain in the ass, though”.


“I mean, not with me, but with our friends and our colleagues. It took me a while to realize that he’s so fuckin pretentious”.

“What do you mean?”.

“Do you like to read?”.

“Yeah, but not as much as I used to”, said Fred looking downwards.

“This guy would have started going: ‘you should read more, throw out your TV, if you have time for Instagram you have time for War and Peace’. He just kept babbling about literature to people that didn’t care about it, and the worst part is that he just spit names out, a real namedropper, you know? I mean, what is the point of him saying: ‘Oh, have you read One Hundred Years of Solitude?’, and the other person going: ‘yeah, I’ve read it, it’s a masterpiece’, and then both of them just saying: ‘yeah, it’s a beautiful book’. Isn’t it the same as saying ‘hey, did you catch the Lakers game last night’?”.

“Well, I guess. But it’s true that we should read more and stay off social media”, said Fred, again looking downwards.

“This one time he started saying to a friend of mine that he should read more, that life is too short to be stupid. And I just had to stop him and say that he was being a pretentious douchebag. He got mad, of course, but I spoke to the poor guy he was berating and told him: ‘just ignore him, he just starts complaining all the time’. This guy and me kept talking for a while. He finally understood my point. Just do whatever makes you happy, you know. I agree on the social media thing, those things are evil. But regarding that other thing, just fuckin do what makes you happy. That’s what I say to everyone that says that they feel that they should read more”.

Fred was happy to finally have someone to talk to at these gatherings. Even better, someone as smart and carefree as Gabriel. When he told Emily about the job, she just said: “I knew you’d get it, you’re fucking gorge”. But Gabriel asked him questions all night: “Why did you decide to model? What drove you to this life? How did you make a name for yourself in such a short time?”. Emily just thought that he was hot as fuck. “What’s even the point of going out with her?”, this question kept popping inside Fred’s mind all night.

When he was still in college, a friend of his used to tease him that he was a pussy, that ‘no goblin should worry like a woman about shit like that’. Over the years he learned that this was not what he wanted, and that so-called friendship just vanished. He often thought about friendship.

“What do you think friendship is, Gabriel?”

“That is a deep question. I usually ask that myself too”, Gabriel said, covering his mouth with his fingers, “it is complicated and multifaced. Like, take my relationship with Emily, for example. You’d think we are not friends because we don’t see each other anymore, because we catch up every year or so. But, when we see each other, even if we talk for like 5 minutes, it’s like if a flame rekindled from the ashes of memories. Or even better yet, it’s like if we shared a region inside our brain, a map of neurons, that connects instantly and enables access to memories that we had given up for lost.”

“Wow, I mean, I understand that, and I’ve heard it multiple times, but I just haven’t felt that. I don’t think I have a single friend with whom I share that ‘brain region’ with. I don’t have any trouble making friends, but I don’t bother with talking to people much either”.

“Yeah, I could tell that earlier, before we started talking”.

“And here we are, celebrating my new job, and I don’t feel a thing. It just feels empty. You know what Mr. Lightbringer said? ‘He is gorgeous… for a goblin’. I’m tired of hearing that shit, but I don’t do anything about it. I just want to live without being called a redborn or a reddy or a fuckin goblin. I know what the fuck I am”, Fred picked up his drink, this time looking Gabriel directly into the eyes, “sorry, it’s just that I had a bad day, thinking about what the future has in store for me”.

“Hey, you don’t have to apologize, it is a horrible situation”.

“Listen to me here, complaining about rejection with a gay human. You must think I’m a whiner. Hell, now I think I’m a whiner”, Fred started laughing. Gabriel asked him for a cigarette and they both started smoking.

“Look, I hate this place, I hate this town, and I hate this country. I don’t like to say it, but it’s true. I hate that when I was an intern, I made less than a fuckin welfare-sucking leech. It’s true, I made like 3000 pesos while these fuckers got like 5000. And I hated being treated like shit for being gay, people thinking I’m inhuman or an abomination. But I try not to think about it. I get mocked, I have people saying to me almost every day that I will go to hell, but I just try not to think about it. And regarding the welfare leeches, they’re just a symptom of this corrupted government. They have lost the will to live. People call you redborn, but you know it’s just fake courtesy. And redborns are on the verge of going berserk and starting riots. Even I want to sometimes. But what can we do against the elves? With them and the cartels, we don’t stand a chance. Half-elves, rich humans, they all just want to be elves, and they even have the nerve to say: ‘you just need to work harder’. It’s not our fault, man. I bet Brad and Jerry over there are kissing Bezos’ ass, or Musk’s or whatever. Dwarves adore famous engineers because they think those people are our saviors, always obsessed with their ‘hustle’ culture”.

Fred just kept nodding and nodding. He knew they were just complaining, him and Gabriel, but he needed to vent. Besides, by criticizing is how you knew things could be better. Fred thought, deep in his heart, that modelling was his way of making people happy. ‘One great outfit can lift up your spirits’, he’d say to someone, and this someone would laugh at him behind his back. But he loved looking fine every day, he really loved it. Just the thought of walking through his closet made him smile. Maybe that was why Gabriel understood him. ‘After all, gay humans are great dressers’, Fred would say.

They kept talking for an hour, and Gabriel left. Emily was completely drunk, so she didn’t even notice. She thought he was just going to the restroom. Then, Jerry and Margaret left. Finally, Cynthia and Brad too. Fred helped Emily get on her feet, and she insisted on taking a walk before they closed the food truck park. It was a beautiful night, with a beautiful full moon. They sat on a wooden bench.

“Your friend Gabriel is great, he is a great person”.

“Yeah, he’s a cool dude, the best! He’s so smart, but he’s not doing anything to earn more money, you know. That is a bummer”.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, he should be making more money, right? I mean, he’s a surgeon”.

“Yeah, but he is only starting, they don’t pay the doctors much”.

“My friend Cynthia is driving an Audi, and she’s fresh out of college. I mean, I’m hustling every day, because I love stuff. For a gay guy he’s not very ambitious”.

Fred couldn’t believe Emily. “Just imagine if she knew how much I’m going to make. She’d start going that Brad is making more money at the law firm as a junior!”. What was he thinking going out with Emily? She admired these privileged douchebags. “Hell, she is even one herself! Do these people really think they’re the shit?”.

“But Gabriel is infinitely more prepared than Brad, let alone Jerry”, blurted out Fred. “It’s not even close”.

“So what, they’re making dough. Poor Gabriel is still driving around in that 2005 Honda”.

“No, their parents are making money, they’re just leeching off”.

“Babe, Brad’s a lawyer and Jerry’s an engineer with his own company!”.

“That would be impressive if they were living in the US, maybe. And Jerry, his company is shit. He still lives with his parents, but he drives around in that Mercedes to fool people. And he is 30! I bet the 20k a month he gets goes straight to the monthly fee”.

“So what, he gets along with his parents. And how would you know that his company is shit, you’re a model”.

“So because I’m a model I can’t know anything about anything else?”.

“I’d believe Jerry because he’s an actual engineer”.

Fred looked to the other side, started smoking and just stopped talking. He saw some waiters bringing some beers to some loud people, he could hear some girls saying that some guy was just a poor loser for choosing to be a graphic designer. Some half-elf girls were saying that they were dying to get an elf sugar daddy, so they wouldn’t have to worry about anything for the rest of their lives. Then he turned back to Emily and saw her scrolling through her Instagram feed. He wanted to end his relationship with her, right there. But it wouldn’t be nice, she was drunk.

“What do you think of people that just want to live? The people that are happy just earning enough for eating, drinking, and watching some TV every day”.

“Well, I mean, I don’t think they are the kind of people that will get far in life”.

“What kind of people do you think will?”.

“People like you, babe! And Cynthia, and Brad, and Jerry”.

“Not Gabriel?”.

“If he doesn’t get his game together, he won’t”.

“But he’s a surgeon, he’s already far in life!”.

“Baby, let’s just stop arguing about this. You better than everyone else know that you have to hustle to get far, and he’s not”.

Fred stood up and lit his last smoke. With one hand on his waist, the other holding the smoke, he stared at a photograph that showed Hermosillo from 100 years ago. The park had arranged a photo exhibit of the Settlement of Hermosillo. He saw some elves standing near some carriages, some dwarves looking at blueprints, and some humans negotiating in the back. Among them all, lots and lots of goblins. Beautiful, red goblins, serving lemonade, and tea, and coffee. They used to trim their nails back then because elves thought they were dangerous. His great-grandfather was just a kid when they founded this town. If only he knew that one of his kin was now a model in this godforsaken town.

“He is gorgeous… for a goblin”, Fred said to himself.

“What did you say, babe?”.

“That’s what Mr. Lightbringer said to his secretary on my way out. Gorgeous… for a goblin”.

“He said that? That’s fantastic. An elf saying that… you really are gorgeous”, said Emily with a glow in her eyes.

“A half-elf, and he was amazed that I spoke Elvish, like it was something uncanny”.

“That’s good! You know, when I met you I thought you were just a pretty face. I said to Cynthia: he is gorge. But after our first date, I almost fell in love with you. I remember being amazed that you spoke Elvish and liked to read, like really read. You took me by surprise”.

Fred sat down, a little shaken, not knowing if Emily was even aware of the stuff she was saying, and then:

“I remember saying to Cynthia the day after: he is really smart for a goblin”.

Fred crossed one leg, put his tiny little hand on top of it, and just stared directly at Emily. Those green eyes turned cruel, and Emily realized her mistake. His red skin looked ravishing under that October full moon. He kept looking at her, and then he remembered that Emily’s mother was in that old picture in front of him. He stared at the picture, and saw Emily’s mother smiling towards his husband, a tall elf who was the mayor of Hermosillo for 50 years. And here was Emily, a half-elf thrown into the good life because her mother got fucked by a crooked elf some decades ago. She was long gone, she was just a human after all. And now Emily did not have to work much because her sweet elf daddy sent her like 20k a month, because of a lawsuit. Just hustle and you’ll get far. Yeah, right. Fred stared at Emily again, and although he felt pity for her, tonight he was drunk and furious.

“You know, your mother was pretty lucky… for a fuckin’ human”.



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Not Where Peter Is


It was a hot day at church when Santiago heard the news: Peter was killed. He did not know what
that meant, and his mom tried to explain to him that it meant that he was not going to live here on
planet Earth with us. Instead, he was going to heaven, where the people that loved Christ went. He
was even more puzzled than before. He knew Peter, and he was not a good person. He was a mean,
mean boy that mocked him every time they had a chance, he and his pals. One day, not a hot one,
he arrived happily to church, wearing a beautiful red sweater that his father brought him from Agua
Prieta. This sweater had a funny-looking clown on it, and he felt that he was a little clown himself,
trying to make people laugh. He did not know where he was, but he liked the way they put the chairs
together, hundreds of chairs. An usher told him that he could help if he wanted, and he did. The joy
in Santiago’s face was something new, even his mother told his father so.

“Great job, give me a high-five”, said the usher, smiling at him.

And he went off to talk to some kids that were playing outside that big auditorium, a place so
foreign to him that he thought he was at a rich man’s mansion, just like the one Richie Rich’s family
had. “Mom, do you think there’s a McDonald’s there too?”, he asked her one day after service, and
she just guffawed. He loved to make his mother laugh, even though this time it was not intentional.
The kids were playing with some kind of Game Boy, and when Santiago asked them if he could see
the screen, a fat, brown kid shoved him away. Then, a little white kid said: “Get lost, this is Laura’s
game, and she lent it to us, us only!”, and then the others chimed in, “YEAH!”.

So now, in this hot day, he was wondering why everything was so glum, why they were all crying…
weren’t they supposed to be worshipping the Lord? That was what his mother told him that they did
every Sunday when they sang and danced. He liked those songs, and he was always stood up and
danced with the rest of the kids. But now they were crying. Then this guy, up in the stage, started
speaking loudly:

“Father, we are gathered here today to praise you even in these sad moments, because that’s what
Job taught us”, and then a woman in the front screamed, “AMEN”

“Because”, the guy continued, “we now know that Peter’s up there with you, singing and dancing.
And that is why we are remembering Peter’s heart and spirit, praying for his family that has to
endure this harsh event. But we know that everything is in your plans, and you will wipe every tear from our eyes, because when you come back there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain”.

“AMEN”, the crowd shouted.

And then a big light was cast onto the wall from a little, funny machine, and some words appeared:
“Rest in peace, Peter. We will see you in Paradise”. Santiago read the words and wondered what it all
meant. And he saw a picture of Peter, too, and he remembered that it was him that said that he
wasn’t going to let him see the videogame screen. And he remembered well the words Peter said
after the fat, brown kid shoved him… “Laura doesn’t like dumb kids”. Santiago did not even know
who Laura was, so he went away, ‘minding his own business’, like his older brothers told him to do
all the time at home. And finally, he remembered what happened next, the reason why he did not like Peter.

After they got bored with the game, Santiago went looking for this woman named Laura. She agreed
to lending him the game, and he went back to the kids, grinning. “I told you to get lost!”, and this
time Peter pushed him. He got so mad that he punched Peter on the cheek, and the other kids
started hitting him. “And we’ll beat you up again”, the fat kid said, “don’t you know he’s Julian’s
brother?”. And they left him there on the dirt. He was bawling. He just wanted to make some

After this weird guy up on the stage stopped talking, the grown-ups started to talk to themselves in a
low voice. Santiago always got afraid when they started doing this, because all of a sudden people
would start wailing, some would throw themselves on the ground, others would yell weird words. So
he left the auditorium, running as fast as he could, and even his mother did not notice. Outside there
were some kids standing around a barbed wire circle where some ponies lived. He got close to them,
trying to make some friends again, but then he noticed that they were the same kids that beat him

“What are you doing here? You weren’t even his friend!”, a tiny kid cried.

“Yeah, you do not have any friends here. Get lost!”, an older kid said, apparently the older brother
of the tiny kid because they looked alike.

“But I want to be friends with you”, replied Santiago.

“Well now you can’t”, said an even older kid, “he’s DEAD”.

“You’re a bad kid, you’re the kind of kid that will go to hell. You are a bad person”, said the fat kid,
“that’s what Pastor Roberto said”.

“Who’s Pastor Roberto?”, Santiago was confused, why did they know all these grown-ups?

“You don’t even know who Pastor Roberto is?”, the fat kid yelled to his face, and his spittle hit
Santiago’s eyes, “get out of here, you really are a dumb kid!”.

“You’re a fool”, another one cried, “you’re stupid”, cried another, “and ugly!”, cried the last one to
say something.

And Santiago started crying again, but this time they mocked him for being a crybaby, a fag, a loser.
And they started chanting: “crybaby, crybaby!”.

He ran away, in the middle of the dust, and his skin looked like the breaded fish his father made
from time to time, right before they cooked it. He could not see anything, there was a lot of dust
that day, raised by the scorching wind of August, and he could not find the way to the auditorium.
Finally, he found the door, and he stood outside, sitting, crying his eyes out. A woman came outside,
found him, and said:

“Oh, my dear child, we’re all very sad for Peter, may his soul be with the Lord”, said a tall, white
lady with boring-looking glasses.

“I.. I’m not crying because of Peter! He was not my friend, I hate him!”, Santiago shrieked.

“You bad-mannered, lousy kid!”, the white woman screamed at him, “you should be ashamed of
yourself!”, and she went back inside.

“If Paradise is where people like Peter go, then I don’t want to go where Christ lives”, the five-year-
old Santiago thought to himself, hanging his head between his legs, with sweat and tears on his face