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”.




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