I left the sanatorium, with renewed hopes and the thought put in Charito that, with inevitable slowness, would be replaced there in room 101.
The place had changed a lot; the successive extensions and remodeling transformed it into a first class establishment. Nothing remained of the old sanitarium, only the bronze plaque reminiscent of the foundation and the portraits of the first doctors on the walls of the central hall, invaded at that time by doctors, nurses, patients and visitors who wandered the silent corridors.
Forty years ago, I remembered it with absolute clarity, I had entered my mother’s hand there to meet my newborn cousin, I was seven years old and I think that at that time I preferred boys; because the little brother who had promised me was delayed in arriving … So much that in the end he never appeared.
I guess I did not pay too much attention to either the mother or the daughter, attracted as I was to other more novel objects for me, like the doorbell on the head of the aunt’s bed, which I carelessly ignored. getting the immediate presence of a solicitous nurse and a reprimand of my mother along with the exhortation of my grandmother to behave like a “little man”.
From that first visit to my cousin, the only late daughter of the wealthy Don Raul Deroud and of Mama’s sister, the image that I keep is her red face like a radish, nothing more.
The visitors saw her beautiful, rozagante and I do not know what, but for me it was a deformed and ungraceful thing. Of course I took care to express that thought aloud so as not to win a new reprimand, a maternal coscorron, or both.
Probably because of that initial impression I do not have registered the first times of Maria del Rosario, names with which she was baptized, I just started to take her into account when I was walking around the house babbling her name “Charito” for Rosarito as we said the others.
Obstinated from the beginning, she managed to identify herself as Charito before the whole world, the truth is that from then on she got us to call her that and started to shine with her own light not only because of her stubbornness, but also because of her intelligence and, perhaps, for contradict my first impression-, for its beauty.
To say that my cousin was born in a cradle of gold and raised between cottons is no exaggeration. Desired, expected daughter of mature parents, sole heir of the solid fortune amassed penny by penny by her father, had since opened her eyes to life everything that a little person can have: mimes, riches and family prestige, because although our The maternal branch came from an old bourgeois trunk, the paternal social ancestor was acquired by the old Don Raul, based on assorted banknotes that opened wide the doors of the church and of all the other institutions as a prominent benefactor. the local and even provincial authorities distinguished him as a man of consultation and the community considered him the most representative figure of his values.
Certainly Charito all those things did not care a damn, I dare to say that not only ignored them from childhood but maintained the same indifferent attitude throughout his life.
As far as I’m concerned, my only cousin was a great annoyance at first. He followed me, -perhaps he chased me- everywhere, with his hands covered with chocolate or caramel, he would cling to my pants, he would cling to his cheeks every time he kissed me, he wanted me to participate in his games, very little honorable for a boy.
Anyway, like the little girl spoiled to the point of exhaustion, she did everything she could to upset a grown boy like me who looked with more interest at her classmates.
It goes without saying that most of the time Charito achieved his goals, or because, even reluctantly, he ended up surrendering to his persistent harassment or to obey the elders who instilled in me the duty to protect, attend and please the little cousin who loved me so much …
Neither does she acknowledge that the games were conducted by her and that she had me as she did with her dolls, which she left in penitence in the corners or lifted her skirts to apply to them for “behaving badly”. Only for me there was no corner or punishments, on the contrary sometimes my role consisted in sending penance to the corner also to her, something that, I confess, did often and very willingly.
But if he persecuted me for a playmate, our grandmother, who lived with them, overwhelmed her by demanding that he read or tell her stories.
Rosario evidenced from an early age an extraordinary interest in everything related to corporal punishment, especially penances and spankings, something that everyone called powerfully because she had never received punishment of any kind.
However, no one found abnormal in that interest and if someone murmured: “What a strange curiosity this baby!” Those of the family accustomed to my cousin’s extravagances, responded indifferently: “It’s going to happen …”
I suspected that our grandmother, who philosophically argued that the stories in which the protagonists were not in danger or suffering, did not arouse any interest, stimulated the inclinations of his granddaughter and somehow determined their tastes.
My guess was that in order to please her, she modified the end of the children’s stories, so Little Red Riding Hood then received a good beating from her mother for having stopped in the forest to talk to the wolf, the lying little cowherd took a good beating for cheating the other shepherds, the milkmaid’s ass paid for the broken pitcher, the respective buttocks of Hansel and Gretel suffered the family anger for being covered in chocolate, thus, with lashes, always put an end to all the stories.
Charito then loudly celebrated each narration demanding from the grandmother more details and details about the beatings.
I ignore the precise moment when my cousin’s demands stopped bothering me, when my feelings changed and I began to pay more attention. It is possible that this happened when she, close to ten years old, was emerging as a beautiful little woman in the making and began to exercise with more ease the innate art of seduction and manipulation of others.
It was in this way that between us was established little by little, more than a kind of camaraderie a kind of complicity that led us to move away from the older to incorporate our less innocent or more procrastinating variant games, depending on how you look at it.
It is not in my mind to avoid responsibilities as a male and a few years older, but I must clarify in turn that a large part of those, somewhat impure, variants suggested and promoted the same Charito with absolute self-assurance.
As an example, since it is not appropriate to dwell on this kind of detail, I will say that on one occasion he presented me with a small figurine that represented a little girl face down on the knees of the father who punished her on the panties with the Open hand and after asking me if I knew what that meant, he proposed that I do the same with her.
Charito herself placed herself in that position on my lap, urging me to hit her. I patted her gently on the coquettish yellow panties, while she mocked the “punishment” saying: “It does not hurt! … It does not hurt! She did it with the obvious purpose of forcing me to proceed with greater energy, I threatened her then to lower her panties. He challenged me to do it.
I had my reservations, not out of decency precisely, but for fear of a subsequent accusation, so I told her I did not because she would tell her mother.
She assured me that she would not do it, immediately provoked me by calling me “Silly! … Silly!” With what she got the quick removal of the garment and that, when poking her ass, there was a loud clapping sound that startled her.
– “Ayyyy! … – shrieked-” You made me hurt, silly! … ”
But he made no attempt to abandon my knees, writhing in satisfaction when my hand touched his skin again … I do not follow.
This kind of games continued until a couple of years later she traveled with her parents to Europe, in the meantime I enrolled in the University of Buenos Aires and began to pursue my career.
My cousin was absent nine months. My uncles returned when Europe began the northern winter while we began to enjoy the austral summer. So we went back to see each other during the holidays.
Charito insisted on showing me, by dint of gifts, that during her absence I had been present in every place where they had been: From Geneva I brought a gold “Omega” chromometer, from Florence a leather embossed agenda, from Rome half a dozen of silk ties, of Paris lotions, of Toledo a razor, of Barcelona a wallet and a leather belt, of Frankfurt a “Leica” camera, of Nice a pair of sunglasses and a multitude of gifts more like a gold tie pin, a “Mont Blanc” fountain pen and other things I do not remember where.
Upon returning from the wedding trip the couple settled in the family house. They looked very happy. And while I was in contact with them, little by little I was taking distance, because although the misfortune of others is related to people of good will, happiness, selfish by definition, moves away from others around them.
That happened to me who could not bear to feel like a stranger in the middle of such joy.
Several years passed. They did not have children, but they were more united than ever and both were still very happy.
We were on emblematic dates such as Christmas and New Year. For the respective birthdays we exchanged greetings and good wishes.
Suddenly the misfortune hit them. A huge pig crossed their path; surprised Andrés twisted the steering wheel, but did not manage to dodge the animal, consequently the vehicle gave three tumbles before being recostado in the banquina of the side of the driver, who took the worse part: he died in the act.
Charito, unconscious, was transferred to the sanatorium and I had to travel urgently.
I fulfilled my duty, I took charge of the funeral of the unfortunate Andrew, I hired the service, I sent two huge crowns one in the name of the wife and another of mine, I also made the decision to order a mass of corpore insepulto, before proceeding to the inhumation.
I thought I did the right thing, even though my political cousin was recognized as a freemason, but at the time of death the church does not pay attention to these minutiae especially if the alms are paid in advance.
Afterwards, I dedicated my cousin who remained unconscious, but whose vital signs were encouraging, so much so that the doctors decided to move her from the intensive care room to a private room.
Until she recovered, as a close family member and also a partner -as she continued in society- it was up to me to take charge of her affairs so that once she was installed in the sanatorium room, entrusted to the care of specially hired nurses. so that they did not leave his head, I went to the house of the Deroud, whose walls kept so many secrets.
I feel the duty to say it. Despite the time that had elapsed, my spirit still corroded the mystery of that relationship so sui generis of my cousin with Valdivia. The same questions that had been raised by the curious at the time continued to unveil me.
At what point did you meet? How did they fall in love? How did they manage to hide their love in the eyes of the world? Questions that I had never dared to ask, but whose answers I hoped to find in there.
Encouraged by that thought, I entered the house. Margarita, the woman who officiated as housekeeper, cook, maid, and Charito’s assistant from her maiden days had arranged for me one of the guest rooms.
Without being asked, she handed me the keys to the house, so that no sooner had she retired, I began my investigation.
The first verification was that my keys did not open all the doors, there was one sector of the house, specifically a couple of rooms, hermetically closed. There was undoubtedly what interested me.
I remembered then that the police had handed me the personal effects of the dead man in a polyethylene bag. At that moment, busy as I was between the sanatorium and the funeral home, I did not check the content, I just kept it as I had received it.
I went for it and there were the clock, the wedding ring, the wallet, other small objects like loose coins, a nail clipper, driver’s license and what interested me most: the key ring.
I just had to hit the keys that opened the doors to the mysteries of the couple.
The threatening storm from the first hours of the day suddenly unleashed all its fury on the city, lightning and thunder were happening continuously and shortly after a thick curtain of water enveloped everything.
I entered the first room. Until I found the light switch, the lightning flashes gave me a ghostly vision of my cousin’s playroom. She kept the dolls, toys, books and other objects that had been part of her childhood and that I still had in mind.
When I turned on the electric light I could observe in detail the room of light pink walls decorated with children’s motifs, white windows with curtains and cream-colored curtains.
Beyond the harmless aspect that it offered at first sight, the whole radiated something morbid; cruel and sensual at the same time, like some Victorian canvases whose shadows and halftones suggest a cluster of strange voluptuousness.
An aroma of idolatrous sanctuary floated in the air, as if the place were prepared to perform esoteric rituals.
The inspection of the wardrobe reinforced that impression because I found it full of children’s clothes, pleated skirts, organdy dresses, beautifully embroidered blouses, capes, hats, gloves, leather sleeves, costumes and a myriad of accessories, all made to measure today. cousin.
I moved to the adjoining room, whose gray walls and dark Chippendale furniture, a desk, chairs and high-backed armchairs upholstered in leather, offered a stark contrast to the previous one,
There was a wall there covered with books, photographs, statuettes and other small ornaments, the other two had paintings and the last one besides reproductions, a panoply with whips of different types and sizes.
In the larger frame, -a gouache-, one could see a man dressed in the peasant fashion, dressed in windbreakers and wearing a woolen hat finished in the shape of a stocking, lashing a naked young woman’s backside with a strap. waist, while another girl of the same age, with joined hands and fingers intertwined, contemplates anguished. It did not bear a signature, only the following legend: “To each one his own”.
The other of equal size framed a sheet, reproduction of a stamp engraved in steel. The reason for the scene, presumably of the eighteenth century, the punishment of a maiden crossed face down on the lap of a lady who waves a bunch of sticks on the exposed buttocks, while holding skirt and petticoats above the waist. In the lower right corner, in small letters, it reads: “A. Molinier – H.Stahl SC “and at the bottom, in the medium printed in gold, the title:” Pour l’amener à la Raison “.
There were also other smaller pictures framed, among them an engraving by Goya entitled: “And if he has broken the pitcher …” also some photographs, almost all naked of my cousin.
I concentrated on the desk whose drawers were locked. I found them without major difficulties inside one of the amphoras decorated with Greek motifs.
Everything I was looking for was there: several bundles of letters, a multitude of photographs and several leather diaries that turned out to be my cousin’s diaries. All that consumed me several days of reading nuanced with visits to the sanatorium.
The letters and diaries contained material to write several erotic novels or a dense catalog of voluptuousness wholesale.
They had met in the library, which Valdivia frequented daily. None had noticed that Charito was there in the afternoons as a librarian, while the presence of “Lechuzón”, mixed with the few readers, went unnoticed by everyone.
In that favorable environment, little frequented, secluded, where silence reigns or little is spoken and in a very low voice, his loves bloomed.
First came the crossings of looks, then the comments of certain books, such as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” the biographies of some iconic saints and the rich stories of the Inquisition in America by José Toribio Medina, led them to discover the reciprocal hobby for the whipping.
Aware both of the huge social differences that separated them resolved to maintain their relationships outside the eyes of others.
They began by exchanging letters daily through the skillful system of putting them inside the books, so that each time Valdivia approached the desk to return or withdraw a work, inside correspondence went from one to the other.
I never would have imagined the audacity of the lovers, especially my cousin, nor the ingenious tricks they used to secretly gather themselves to enjoy ardent hours of passion, since according to the reading of the intimate diaries the feelings of both of them flowed quickly in unstoppable passion.
Usually at dusk Valdivia would go through the library to sneak surreptitiously into the back of the “Chevrolet” that Don Raul had bought for his daughter. I waited there lying on the floor for Charito to leave her homework.
She kept the car in the garage with the hidden passenger who stayed there until he came back for him.
Charito used to play the role of a devoted daughter: she had dinner with her father, accompanied him until the moment he went to the bedroom, there he brought her tea and stayed by his side until he was sure that he would take the “Bromural” pill that would immerse him in it. a continuous and deep dream.
Soon after, in bedclothes, with nothing underneath, according to his own words, he went in search of the beloved to indulge in the pleasures of Eros in which lashes were indispensable.
The intimacies of marriage were even more closely recorded and described. Through them I managed to know that Charito was fascinated by playing the role of “babe” for which she had the assortment of trousseau she had found in the wardrobe of the playroom; while his spouse loved the roles of severe teacher, irascible tutor, strict dad who allowed him to bend her on his knees to redden her buttocks …
The forecasts of the Neurologist that I brought from Buenos Aires were fulfilled: after a few weeks of the accident Charito regained consciousness. I was at his side when he opened his eyes.
It took him a while to recognize me, when he placed a painful smile on my face, I squeezed his hand that was between mine and I murmured:
-You still have me …