By A.J. Bozinsky

In old houses, electricity meters were installed inside the home. This led to all sorts of irregularities which later were avoided with exterior installations. If you pay attention, the story turns out happy because of this unique detail... Although you should correct me, because really it's a sad happy ending.

Edberto was listening to his transistor radio, which sat on the worktable that had belonged to his grandfather, who in life had been a tailor by profession and not much of a worker by vocation. Edberto had inherited it along with a pair of scissors made of excellent metal, high quality fabric and thread, cash books spotted with mold, a dozen sexology journals, wooden tools whose purpose he did not know, various antiques, and the radio which, free of its leather cover, was at that moment transmitting breaking news in AM.

There prays the nasal voice of an asthmatic, prays the half reedy and half falsetto voice of a busybody, reporting on the mysterious deaths by electrocution that had increased two weeks ago, leaving the police and the power company's technicians with no answers.

"Weird," said Edberto. "But kids with tails are weirder."

He rotated the sexology journal so that the light reflected by the lamp above his head would allow him to see clearly the photograph of a boy with a tail.

"Fuck!" he exclaimed wonderingly. "Must be so uncomfortable to live a happy life."

Because he preferred to look at the plates and skip the text, and because he preferred his imagination to scientific rigor, Edberto constructed strange fantasies from the seeds of the sexology journals. They germinated in a fertile and disorganized mind, accompanying him throughout his life.

Inept at soccer, he turned off the radio before the live broadcast of a local match and committed himself to wasting time rummaging through the drawers of the noble display cabinet, laughing about the misfortune of having a tail, trying to find some value in the antiques and tailor's notions.

Until noon he entertained himself by drawing on the blank pages of the cash books, until he got completely bored of recreating bucolic scenes of people with tails. While waiting for his grandmother to finish preparing lunch, he colored in the tiny rectangles where the bookkeepers had used to take down numbers, and believed he had discovered a new pictorial technique akin to pointillism. Given its relation to apathy and accounting, he abruptly baptized it with the name "accountancy."

His grandmother was sick of him. The day before she had threatened to stop feeding him if he didn't get a job. Being a woman of her word and a survivor of hard times, she responded in protest to his pleas for lunch.

Edberto firmly entrenched himself in the tailor's room. Working has so much to do with injustice and torture, horrors of the world, and he completely discarded the advice of his untrustworthy grandmother. Nevertheless, he forced himself, for the first time in his life, to try and think productively, so that, although he hadn't the slightest idea how, at least out of boredom there might arise an idea that would allow him to earn a living.

Although his intentions were serious, the thinker himself realized that the more he tried, his playful mind, stalled in the region of childhood and adolescence, always took the path of the fight towards game territory. For example, if it occurred to him to sell a wooden ruler, soon he would see himself as a swordfighter in the midst of violent combat. If the torso of a mannequin might have scooted itself to the nearest auction house, it would become a convict resigning himself to decapitation on the way to the gallows. If the noble scissors could be converted to bills, suddenly they were the crucifix that terrified a legion of demons emerging from the door to the basement.

Finally, defeated by so much ideating, he fell into an armchair, the favored seat where in life his grandfather had spent endless hours reading books and journals instead of cutting and sewing fabric. Sleep closed his eyes, and he sank further and further into himself, until he had so withdrawn that everything was darkness and silence...

...A cicada buzzed by... Murmurs and echoes... Flashes... Cracks! Cascading voices that distorted themselves until they seemed like the growls of beasts... A clear cry of horror!

It was like the roar of a bomb. Edberto woke up blessed with the knowledge of what to do. Just as concentration and sleep reveal great truths to geniuses, it occurred to this mortal that he'd better sell everything bit by bit, and to get things moving he determined that first to go would be the three-leafed mirror in front of him, where back in the day clients had been able to look at themselves, satisfied or disgusted, from head to toe, before

But none of this matters!

He saw it reflected in the mirror. Latched into a corner where the ceiling and walls met, it was sucking diligently on the fusebox. Its head looked like an enormous molar, with two little black cavities for eyes, a flat boxer's nose, three copper terminals arranged in a row maybe teeth or plugs. It was albino, scrawny, its little arms, like the hairy legs of a spider, left uncovered by the short-sleeved shirt of the power company uniform. A long tail, viperlike, emerged from the pants. The frightening creature was barefoot.

Surprised, the chupacorrientes1 shot a ray from its fingertip, making splinters jump out hardly two centimeters from Edberto's feet. Seeing that he had not gotten the message, it took the opportunity to jump on top of him and spit a stream of electrons into his eyes.

Half blinded, but making use of the weight of his stomach, Edberto flipped himself over and put his attacker underneath, swatting it to detach himself. Once he succeeded, with difficulty as he kept receiving good high voltage electric shocks, he ran towards the door intending to flee... As he opened it, his grandmother fell on top of him, completely blackened.


He had always hated that cranky old woman, her hand quick to stretch out and slap him or close to give him a smack, but this stale piece of barbecue off the coals made him forget how many times he had wished her dead, and he was a little sorry. Generally when one wishes for another's death it is only so she might disappear from one's life, not fall in such an unpleasant and unnatural way.

He had little time to think of or feel anything for the old hag because the chupacorrientes had collected itself and was scratching his back with ten blue rays that came from the tips of its nails... And I do mean "scratching", because on someone else this would have been enough to open the trapezius, rhomboids and dorsals, but on Edberto the attack had the effect of a pampering given by one who loves his favorite pig, bringing to mind the old saying about fault.2 Instead of pain or despair, he felt, perhaps for the first time in his life, or at least in many years, his pathological laziness and sleepiness replaced by a new state of exultation... With each jolt of electrons, instead of doubling over like someone getting cattle prodded for opposing the political system, it seemed to him that his nose was approaching a freshly served glass of fizzy soda; when a welding arc from the chupacorrientes' mouth came and collided with his skull, he gained the utmost mental lucidity; if its eyes were like spotlights capable of lightning stadiums and blinding men, Edberto gained the vision of an archery world champion... The unclean beast folded over itself, it showered an extraordinary amount of sparks into every corner of the room, and from what might have been its belly button, there came a column of light that hit the revived sleepyhead right on the forehead.


The chupacorrientes, dragon that killed Saint George, fell exhausted in its pants and shirt at Edberto's feet, crowned in golden aureole. Wearing boots somewhere between old and eternal, he rested his foot on the head of the defeated, striking a pose to rival any of those little saints' pictures they sell on the bus. Instead of skewering it with the scissors as a lance, he tied it hand and foot, making use of a fountain of scraps.


Just as his lethargy had dissipated in no time, so did his doubts with respect to the situation. Body and mind establish themselves in ironclad union, and to a colossal will corresponds great clarity of intelligence, or at least here there was not one of the many exceptions to this rule. It so happened that Edberto made the greatest discovery of his life, and twice over: an extra-human being, capable of accumulating enormous quantities of electric energy, and, in its turn, project it in the form of terrible rays when the mood struck, above all, when this involved killing people, had appeared to him; he had discovered that receiving electricity directly did not harm him, in fact, provided an appealing and reinvigorating feeling, like the inspiration of an artist or the easy chair and good whisky of the visionary businessman who, between sips, finds his perspectives on his projects much clearer and more profound, yielding, a posteriori, maximum fame and fortune. With regard to his grandmother, she was dead. The poor old woman lay nearby, shrunken, scorched, skinned and smoldering profusely, like something left forgotten in the oven until the door was opened. That everyone should get what they deserve... One couldn't ask for greater perfection.

And now what?

Two ideas arose, begging attention from his memories. Something he'd seen on an old police show, and the tape recorder his grandmother had given him one birthday, only to take away later... maybe, like the Lord, he was blessed by that action. He went into the bedroom of the burnt deceased, and took the tape recorder from the nightstand and a virgin tape from the drawer, along with a lamp attached to the back of the bed, feeling grateful that in life, the old woman had been addicted to recording the noises ghosts make at night.

He hurried back to the tailor's workshop. With a little effort, he managed to position the chupacorrientes such that the light would hit it face on, and, pressing the buttons "record" and "play," he took its confession after reviving it with blows.

Why should we listen to the monotonous voice of the narrator, when the tape, though quite broken down, forbids lies from all but the one involved?


///-No#, no... P%lease... That's #enough... &I'll talk...*** It started *** when I go$t a j=ob= with the powe$r compan+y*** I started thanks to *** My jo%b was to t#ake down the usag+e f+rom the meter///s... *** I ha=d no idea whose it was, until& +an over$sight that+++caused an # accident, m$ad=e me see...+ **** Oh... *** It was a stripped wir++++e touch****ing the metal+ b%ox... #*** I felt a stong tremor, but the=n, instead of what would happen to anyone else, I experienced #a*** light wellbe$++ing*** Amazed *** I didn't $want to remain in ***doubt, so I stroked ** &the= s#tripped wire a few mor=e times and wa=s again repa%id with magical pleasure. I was dif**ferent from everyone. Since I was a kid#, + I knew +destiny h$%ad a special plan set aside for me. My name+$ would not be +erased from history as it is fo#r ***m=ost +mo+rtals. %But t***he& vulgarity of the every***day, that demolishes, that destroys all intelle$ctual prominence, that flattens the/// i+ntelligence +of the se***lect until it becomes the same %m=isery o+f everyone els+e. The overcrowding in a society of trivial aims. #+The ene+rgy of the& universe is blocked$. The& wi#sdom of God $***is not abs+olute. There is no= such thing. There is no harmony in the universe. = What is elevated +falls from the cli%ff to meet the d***aily bread In the end, I compl=tely los+t this firm co=nviction. W#hy didn't I dedi+cate myself to eating my food and living peacefu$lly wi$thout bothering anybody. +Yo$u don't unders**=*tand anything about anything. You would see i*mmedia+++tely if you knew all the cruel jokes I was subjected to as a kid. Molar***head///, screwteeth, s#&=crew+dri+verlegs, pliermouth, vampireface, everyone laughed at me, every$where***, at school, aro$und% the neighborhood, #even at w***ork, once I wa+s a man, they talked and laughed/// behind my b***ack. Everything was alway=s like t#hat. I h+ate man. I hate the human race. If I have one duty in life$, alo&ng with the power ///that was conf%erred on =me, #it must be ++to aven*=+**ge myself and to do ju///stice, to$ leave the place to more evo=lved bein***gs, +who#'ll be coming to the planet any moment now. +Bu+t you will never $unde&#rstand any of t***his, unless... I wonder...# no***w if you might n#ot be =one of us. ++&


Edberto could not fail to notice the analogies to his own life, as he knew plenty about rejection, jokes and misunderstandings. So, when the chupacorrientes, taking out the plug it had under its tongue, begged him to bring it closer to the nearest outlet so that it could begin to revive itself, he doubted for two seconds whether to take pity on his captive. When this time had passed, he resolved the conundrum with words that emerged from the very depths of his soul:

"Cheap varmint with electric powers, you have determined your ignoble luck, for criminal decisions are not always exonerated by man's justice, where iniquity teems, where judges, lawyers and politicians wave a hand to absolve the truly guilty and condemn the innocent. For here I am, observing these things from above, as I am observing you. I've seen more more than one miserable murderer pretend to be dying to escape the punishment he deserved, begging for a lesser one, only to return to crime at the first available moment. You might have fooled me, but now my eyes see far past that mere shell we call reality. Your soul is black like all the souls doing pirouettes in the circus of power. You have been perfidious up to the last minute of your life, seeking to fool me... Or do you think I didn't notice that, as you tried to engage me in your painful monologue, you were stretching towards the scissors at your side, to take them up as soon as you finished untying yourself with those sharp pliers you have for nails, and sink them into me with no frills, even as I would save you in compassion?"

Having said this, Edberto picked up the scissors in one half stroke, and in another he sank them into the skull of the chupacorrientes, which, cracking like an egg, released little balls of lights that rolled across the floor, evaporating instantly... And he went to alert the police.

We have said that this is a story with a sad happy ending. While the chupacorrientes did cease to exist, for the good of humanity, or at least consumers of electricity, nobody believed Edberto's absurd story, and he was accused of the murders of his grandmother and the poor meter reader. Sentenced to thirty years in prison, he will be suffering an ordeal much worse than "molarhead," surely among the most gentle monikers given by the riffraff that dwell there. But just as Christ himself, having lived longer, would have realized the mistake he made in sacrificing himself for a rotten humanity and applied himself to a project of mass extinction, Edberto, relying on his electromagnetic powers, will be escaping from jail any minute, and then, yes, almost everyone will be having at least a sad ending.

1. The chupacabra, literally "goat sucker," is a legendary creature of the Americas said to drink the blood of goats and other livestock. Chupacorrientes = "current sucker." Back

2. La culpa no es del chancho sino de quien le rasca el lomo. "The fault is not with the pig but with the one who scratches its back." Many variants, including: "Don't blame the pig, blame those who feed it." Back