The First Lines of El Astillero, a Novel by Juan Carlos Onetti

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Feb 18, 2019 23:18
Five years ago, when the Governor decided to expel Larsen (also known as Juntacadáveres) from the province, someone did, in joke and improvising, prophesy his comeback, a further extension of the 100 days reign, a polemical and fascinating--although all but forgotten--page of our city's history. Few, if anyone, paid heed and it's almost sure that this sentence was immediately forgotten by Larsen himself, as he was in poor health after his defeat and escorted by the Police. It is most probable that, by then, he had given up any hope of coming back to us.

In any case, five years after this anecdote came to an end, Larsen was getting off at the bus stop for the 'omnibuses' that come from Colón. He set for an instant his suitcase on the floor to stretch out his silken cuffs closer to his knuckles and began his entrance in Santa María. Soon after the rain had ended, slowly and swinging, he made his way into the city. He looked fatter and shorter than before, as well as indistinguishable, and apparently tame.
Hace cinco años, cuando el Gobernador decidió expulsar a Larsen (o Juntacadáveres) de la provincia, alguien profetizó, en broma e improvisando, su retorno, la prolongación del reinado de cien días, página discutida y apasionante —aunque ya casi olvidada— de nuestra historia ciudadana. Pocos lo oyeron y es seguro que el mismo Larsen, enfermo entonces por la derrota, escoltado por la policía, olvidó en seguida la frase, renunció a toda esperanza que se vinculara con su regreso a nosotros.

De todos modos, cinco años después de la clausura de aquella anécdota, Larsen bajó una mañana en la parada de los «omnibuses» que llegan de Colón, puso un momento la valija en el suelo para estirar hacia los nudillos los puños de seda de la camisa, y empezó a entrar en Santa María, poco después de terminar la lluvia, lento y balanceándose, tal vez más gordo, más bajo, confundible y domado en apariencia.