El cirujano / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

The Surgeon

     The braggarts agreed on the duel after mutually provoking each other. The juggler, companion of the state fair doctor, motivated the altercation by irritating them with his witticisms.

     The rough crowd from the neighborhood around the gallows arrived and the women split up into factions, celebrating in shouted voices the courage of each rival.

     The noisy throng happily received the executioner into its arms and addressed him with familiar nicknames. The vagrants lived and succumbed without rancor.

     I was studying anatomy under the authority of Vesalio, and I would walk to that place to take down the unclaimed cadavers. The maestro insisted on the lessons of experience and would discourage me from writing dissertations and arguments in Latin.

     One of the adversaries, of unknown origin, perished in the duel. The registry of no parish gave account of his birth or name.

     He was deposited in a cell of the charnel-house and I marked it to satisfy my studious purposes later on. Nobody could solicit the deplorable relics, for the purpose of burying them affectionately. I can’t shake my bewilderment when I recall how I found two skeletons instead of the lacerated body.

El cielo de esmalte (1929)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

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