Maria Sonia Ortenz


The story is about a man called Ricardo el de los Polios. He was a butcher in the market of my village near Cadiz in Southern Spain. He had a dubious past and his leg was fucked up somehow. People used to say that he was homosexual and that when he was a young man he had worked as a butler for a marquis. They had a short passionate affair until the marquis found a new boyfriend and Ricardo was dismissed.

Soon afterwards the body of the lover was found chopped into little pieces in a suitcase on the road. Ricardo was arrested and sent to prison in Northern Morocco. He escaped somehow and found anonymity in Cadiz.

I was three tears old and my Grandmother would take me to the market each week, and then one day the story was shown on TV on a series called La Huella del Crimen. This was a weekly crime program. The people of my village recognised the story of Ricardo. The old gossip started and people stopped using his stall.

My grandmother used to talk with Ricardo, and she was very much like me, very straight. She went up to him and asked him, "Did you kill that man?" "No," he answered. And then she asked again, "You don't have to lie to me Ricardo, did you kill that man?" He never answered, but to show everyone that she trusted him, and because I was always throwing fruit around in the vegetable market, she would leave me in the care of Ricardo while she shopped for fruit. He was a butcher for fuck's sake not a murderer. I would sit on the counter, sometimes in this dress, with a lollipop or natillas. My mother told me this story. All I remember, and it's still very strong, is the smell of meat and his long knife.