The Infatuations

Free The Infatuations by Javier Marías

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Authors: Javier Marías
Tags: Fiction, General
Canary Islands. I not only hated her, I hated all Canary Islanders. Ridiculous, I know, an obsession, if you like. If they showed a match on TV in which Tenerife or Las Palmas were playing, I would hope they would lose regardless of who their opponents were, not that I particularly care about football and even if I wasn’t the one watching it, but my father and my brother. If there was one of those idiotic beauty contests on, I would always hope that the girls from the Canaries didn’t win, and would throw a tantrum if they did, which was often the case, because they tend to be very pretty.’ And she laughed gaily at herself, she couldn’t help it. If something amused her, it amused her, even in the midst of her grief. ‘I even vowed neverto read Galdós again; however much of a denizen of Madrid he became, he was still born in the Canaries, and so I imposed a complete ban on him, which lasted for ages.’ And she laughed again, and her laughter was so contagious that I laughed too at such an inquisitorial idea. ‘Such reactions are childish and irrational, I know, but they help momentarily by varying your mood. Anyway, I’m not young any more and I don’t even have the option of spending part of the day feeling furious, instead of feeling sad all the time.’
    ‘What about the man who killed Miguel?’ I asked. ‘Can’t you hate him or hate all down-and-outs?’
    ‘No,’ she said, without a moment’s hesitation, as if she had already considered the question. ‘I don’t want to know anything more about the man, I understand he refused to make a statement, and that, from the start, he opted to remain silent, but it’s obvious that he made a mistake and is not right in the head. Apparently, two of his daughters are prostitutes, and he decided that Miguel and Pablo, the chauffeur, were in some way responsible for that. How stupid. He killed Miguel just as he might have killed Pablo or anyone else from the area whom he happened to have a grudge against. I suppose he needed enemies too, someone to blame for his misfortune. It’s what everyone does: the working classes, the middle and upper classes and the socially mobile: we just can’t accept that sometimes things happen for which no one is to blame, or that there is such a thing as bad luck, or that people go off the rails, lose their way, and bring unhappiness and ruin upon themselves.’ – ‘You yourself have shaped your own fate,’ I thought, quoting Cervantes, whose words, it’s true, are no longer heeded. – ‘No, I can’t get angry with the person who killed him like that for no reason, with the person who, if you like, chose him entirely by chance; that’s the worst thing; with someone who’s mad, mentally unhinged, someone who felt no animus against him personally and didn’t even know hisname, who simply saw him as the embodiment of his misfortune or the cause of his own painful situation. Well, I’ve no idea what he saw, of course, I’m not inside his head and I don’t want to be. Sometimes my brother tries to talk to me about it, as does the lawyer, or Javier, one of Miguel’s best friends, but I stop them and tell them that I don’t want to hear their more or less hypothetical explanations or their half-baked theories, because what happened was so serious that the reason why it happened really doesn’t matter to me, especially when the reason is utterly incomprehensible and exists only inside that sick, crazed mind into which I prefer not to venture.’ Luisa spoke well, using a wide vocabulary, words like ‘animus’ and ‘venture’ that crop up rarely in general conversation; after all, she was, as she had told me, a university lecturer in English, and, as a language teacher, she would, inevitably, have to read and translate a lot. ‘To exaggerate slightly, that man has the same value to me as a bit of plaster cornice that breaks off and falls on your head just as you’re walking by underneath; you could so easily not have

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