Conversation in the Cathedral

Free Conversation in the Cathedral by Mario Vargas Llosa

Book: Conversation in the Cathedral by Mario Vargas Llosa Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mario Vargas Llosa
Tags: Contemporary, Classics
carried her and in the truck she pretended to be crying because her face was covered, but Ambrosio didn’t hear her crying. The Uplander pushed the gas to the floor, the truck flew out of the side street. They got to the farm and Don Cayo got out and Rosa, with no need to carry her, she went right into the house, yessir, you see? Ambrosio went to sleep thinking about what Rosa would look like the next day, and whether she’d tell Túmula and Túmula would tell his black mama and his black mama would give it to him. Nobody had any notion of what was going to happen, nosiree. Because Rosa didn’t come back the next day, Don Cayo either, or the day after, or the one after that. In the settlement Túmula was all tears, and in Chincha Doña Catalina was all tears, and Ambrosio didn’t know which way to turn. On the third day the Vulture came back and notified the police and Túmula had notified them too. You can imagine the gossip, yessir. If the Uplander and Ambrosio ran into each other on the street they didn’t say anything, he must have been jumpy too. They only showed up the following week, yessir. He didn’t have to do it, nobody had stuck a pistol in his chest saying the church or the grave. He’d looked up the priest of his own free will. They say they were seen getting off a bus on the Plaza de Armas, that he was holding Rosa by the arm, that they were seen going into the Vulture’s house as if they were coming back from a walk. They must have appeared there all of a sudden, together, just imagine, Don Cayo must have taken out the certificate and said we got married, can you imagine the face the Vulture must have put on, yessir, what the devil is this all about?
    “Are they hunting down vermin over there, Lieutenant?” Bermúdez pointed to the university campus with an insipid smile. “What’s going on at San Marcos?”
    Military barriers closed off the four corners of the square and there were patrols of helmeted soldiers, assault guards and mounted police. Down with Dictatorship, said some placards stuck to the walls of San Marcos, Only Aprismo Will Save Peru. The main door of the university was closed and mourning drapes fluttered on the balconies, and on the rooftops small heads watched the movements of the soldiers and police. The walls of the university courtyard breathed with a sound that grew and shrank between bursts of applause.
    “A few Apristas have been holed up inside there since October twenty-seventh .” The Lieutenant waved to the officer in charge of the roadblock on the Avenida Abancay. “The ‘buffalo squad’ hoodlums won’t learn their lesson.”
    “Why don’t they shoot them?” Bermúdez asked. “Is this how the army has started its cleanup?”
    A police lieutenant came over to the jeep, saluted, examined the pass the Lieutenant handed him.
    “How are those subversives getting along?” the Lieutenant asked, pointing to San Marcos.
    “Over there raising hob,” the police lieutenant said. “Sometimes they throw their little stones. Go ahead, Lieutenant.”
    The policemen moved the sawhorses out of the way and the jeep went through the University Square. On the waving drapes there were white pieces of cardboard, In Mourning for Freedom, and skulls and cross-bones drawn in black paint.
    “I’d shoot them, but Colonel Espina wants to starve them out,” the Lieutenant said.
    “How are things going in the provinces?” Bermúdez asked. “I imagine there’s trouble in the North. The Apristas are strong there.”
    “All peaceful, that business about the APRA controlling Peru is a myth,” the Lieutenant said. “You saw how their leaders ran for asylum in foreign embassies. You’ve never seen a more peaceful revolution, Mr. Bermúdez. And the San Marcos affair could be settled in one minute if the higher-ups wanted to.”
    There was no military movement on the downtown streets. Only on the Plaza Italia did helmeted soldiers appear again. Bermúdez got out of the jeep,

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