Esmerelda and the Curse of Kindness
Esmerelda’s tears flowed down her cheeks making clean lines down her ashen dirty face as she rocked her head from side to side with a silent but real moan. Her nasty feet, black from soot, folded under her skirts on a torn mottled blanket. She had three more layered over her shoulders and covering her legs, all brownish or sullen green. The veil she wore halfway, clasped on one side, so her face, in all its hideousness, was profitably exposed for all to see.
Esmerelda hardly noticed the five-hundred Euros placed in her cup by the banker. She knew him by sight as he passed her daily. Her spot was in the shade of the huge concrete, marble-pillared structure he worked in, in the center of Rome. Her spot was decided by her Papa, who controlled that whole block and all its beggars.
It took a great deal of effort for him to give her that much money, especially since he had seen her there literally hundreds of times and simply chose to ignore her as he was not normally a charitable soul. But that day, seeing her with her nose sliced completely off, hog-like snout, bloody and dried with no salve, his heart was touched. She had been one of God’s prettiest creatures on this earth with a natural beauty: olive complexion, green eyes to match her name, long flowing black hair, full red lips, a curvy figure who walked with a natural grace.
But Esmerelda had been sold as a child to an Italian gypsy, some call Romani, travelers, who lived off the trade of begging, stealing, and conning. She ended up in the hands of a grizzled old Romani task master she called Papa. She felt like his daughter as she had been handed over to him and Mama as a baby. She thought of them as her own and she as theirs.
Sadly, Esmerelda’s sole purpose was to beg for money from tourists, workers, the citizens of Rome and anybody who might toss a coin her way for her to bring home to Papa. She had been doing this as a child with Mama. There was no schooling for Esmerelda other than the street. When she turned sixteen, a few days before the banker filled her cup, Papa, fearing her great beauty and the fact that she thought well too, being blessed by God with a superior intelligence in addition to her physical attributes, decided to fix Esmerelda.
The family all knew what was coming. The two boys, crippled as children and jealous of Esmerelda, tied her up. Mama drugged her with a face full of Novocain and a good shot of Demerol. Papa then took a sharpened razor knife and sliced her nose the fuck off – even with her cheeks. They held rags on it until it stopped bleeding. And poured alcohol on it to sterilize the wound as the drugged Esmerelda screamed through the gauze they had packed her mouth with.
Two days later she was taken to her corner as usual and that is when the banker, who had always and ever, ignored her, saw her weeping in streams and saw the revolting nose wound. Putting that amount of cash in her cup was the most humane, kind, and generous thing he had ever done in his entire life. It sure made Papa happy.
So happy that the next night the heartless bastard sliced her thirteen-year-old sister’s nose off too. You know, to bring in more money. He wasn’t greedy; that’s just how they lived.
©2021 el gallo sabio All rights reserved.
This was written by el gallo sabio, a mochillero who spends his days in an underground marijuana club in Barcelona where he consumes copious amounts of Pilar, a Venezuelan cerveza, to charge the creative ions in his bones.