pearls around the neck • 223
- Good morning, counselor Peña. Please have a seat. Would you like a cup of coffee? Magdalena
- Yes, thank you; and thank you for agreeing to my request to come see you, Peña said.
- Have you seen El Curro? Magdalena asked
- Yes, of course, and he told me everything, but now, I need your testimony to build up the
arguments that are going to make up the defense. Please, tell me what happened from the moment you
heard the clinking of keys.
- The clinking of keys, all right. We heard the keys clinking and then the screams of my husband
who appeared by surprise. Poor Don Septimo tried to protect me by telling him that I had gone out
on some errands but Joaquín didn’t believe him and kept on screaming. He probably pushed him
against the glass table because we heard a terrible noise. Then, Curro made signs at me to have me stay
quiet and he gave me his gun: “Just in case things take a turn for the worst,” he said, and he slipped
towards the dining room. “You son of a bitch,” I heard him yell, “you killed the poor old man.” So
I left my hiding place and I appeared all of a sudden. Joaquín rushed towards me, brandishing Don
Septimo’s hammer with the same gestures of fury he usually had when I tried to defy him. “Shoot,” El
Curro yelled, so I obeyed: one shot in the leg, and another, and again another. Then El Curro took the
weapon from my hands, he wiped it with his jacket and grabbed it by the barrel and the breechblock.
“Magdalena, listen carefully,” he said to me, “if the police shows up, we both have to say the same
thing. Joaquín killed Don Septimo and was about to hit you with the hammer when I shot a bullet
in his leg to stop him, and since he didn’t, I shot a second and a third time until he collapsed.” Very
quickly the neighbors arrived, followed by the police and an ambulance. The ambulance staff took
the two bodies on stretchers, El Curro was handcuffed and I was bombarded with questions. I was in
shock, but I think I repeated El Curro’s version quite faithfully. Aie, Counselor Peña, I am in despair!
What is going to become of me and my two little girls after such a tragedy? Magdalena concluded, no
longer able to hold her tears back.
- Come, now. Calm down, I am here to help you, and please call me Juan Manuel, we are from
the same village and we trust each other, Peña declared as he pulled his handkerchief out to wiped a tear
from her face. Ah, I almost forgot, Curro gave me this note for you. If you want, read it while I go get
my cigarettes in my car.
Magdalena opened the envelope and started reading:
My sweet darling,
I do not know why you answered none of my letters but this has no importance today, what is
important is that Peña came to see me. I told him everything. You can trust him. With his knowledge
and his experience, he will be able to prove that the crime I am accused of wasn’t one. Although you are
not allowed to visit me, please write to me to ease my solitude. Please send a photo as well, that I may
shower it with kisses and caresses. I will soon be free, Princess, to spend the rest of my life by your side,
as I’ve always dreamed I would. Wait for me, it shouldn’t be much longer!
With infinite love,
- Have you read it? Peña asked after closing the entrance door. Magdalena lowered her head and
started crying again. Peña sat next to her, lifted her chin with three fingers and pushed away a lock of