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The birds that were frozen in the branches like tiny glass statues fell from the trees and broke apart like ripe tomatoes the day Allende had begun to thaw. Typhon picked up the remains and gathered them all in a black trash bag which he threw into the garbage bin so the little corpses would not stink up the patio. Dona Leonarda hated the smell and she was not one to tolerate that kind of indecency in her house. The men who picked up the trash, riding burros that hauled rotten wood carriages where all the trash would go, would come to every house in Allende every morning for the next two weeks to pick up all the little corpses and take them to a giant furnace where the multitude of dead birds were burned to prevent the flu. The crematory smoke dispersed into the air as if all the little burned bones and ash had gathered together into one giant bird that soared into the air with new life.
Dona Leonarda gave Typhon many chores besides the one of animal undertaker, so he hurried, because the sun seemed like it wanted to race and finish its work before he could. Dona Leonarda was a despot, a daughter of the traditions of Franco and of Pinochet, but she was also a daughter of gypsies and fortune tellers and snake charmers. Her father was a fascist ex-army General who ruled his house with an iron fist and her mother was a beautiful black haired gypsy who had lost her arm in the conflicts. In Allende, she had cured migraines and established contact between living relatives and dead relatives in order that the dead ones would not miss the latest family gossip.
She married the General to murder him, because it was the Generalâ€™s violent excesses during the conflicts that had taken her arm and her family. They had died together, but not in each otherâ€™s arms, but at each otherâ€™s throats. The gypsy had her one arm around the officerâ€™s jugular and the General, with his face blue, had stabbed a fork into her breast so deep it had skewered her heart. Dona Leonarda thus inherited her fatherâ€™s character and her motherâ€™s trade.
-- He was a great military man -- Dona Leonarda would fondly talk of him, and about her gypsy mother she would say nothing.
Dona Leonarda at one point had fallen in love and married with a man who sold trinkets at the market, but since she would not tolerate the indecency of adultery in her house, she killed him. She had done so by putting a spell on him that brought an itch to his groin every time he made love to his prostitutes. It got so bad, that he finally decided that it was better to take his own life before he scratched himself to the bone. From then on, Dona Leonarda had no love for men, and her own kin most of all. She had only one son, and because she would not tolerate the indecency of him not having a mother, she kept him as a servant but not as a son.
Of Typhonâ€™s father no one knew much, but what was known was that he had escaped from the endless life of servitude that Dona Leonarda had prepared for him to look for his fortune at the capital. He had found it with a young aristocrat girl from with fine golden hair and a gap in her mouth which her friends found unattractive and which she hid by never smiling. Dona Leonarda never forgave her son for missing work, so using one of her spells she placed a curse on herself that would give every male member of her lineage the little tail of a sheep so the world would forever remember her sons as cowards.
Day to night and night to day, Typhon would lead the life of servitude that Dona Leonarda had prepared for his father and which he had begun to repay so early in his life when he was given to her care after his mother died of a series of migraine attacks which had become increasingly stronger with the chirping of the cicadas. After her death, Typhonâ€™s father had prayed and prayed until God granted him his wish to become invisible and escape his life of servitude after which he was never seen again. His inheritance to Typhon, apart from the little lamb tail, was his life of servitude. That way Typhon became the first boy in the world to be orphaned of both father and mother while one of them was still alive. Typhon smelled like loneliness, a dusty and damp musk which attracted the moths, and his appearance matched that aroma. Over his pants, he wore a sash which hid the sheepâ€™s tail he had been cursed with. He didnâ€™t mind it much and he found that it only got in the way sometimes. No one had ever been around to tell him that little boys donâ€™t have sheepâ€™s tails so he became a young man perfectly at comfort with his misshapenness.
The day when he bathed his grandmother she had told him that she had hired a young girl from Allende to help clean the house. She said, in very specific terms, that now that he was becoming a young man, she would not tolerate the indecency of a man doing womanâ€™s work in her house. While he soaped her massive back which was full of pockmarks that retained the soap like a porous rock and which Typhon had to dip his finger with water to clean it out, she fell into a deep sleep in which she started counting to three hundred backwards and forward with a sonorous voice. She did this unconsciously; to keep away the spirits that forever hungered after her power.
Typhon woke her up and dried her with a towel that was as massive as the shower curtains and then they would go into a ritual that would last for two weeks until the girl from Allende came.
â€œBefore you go to sleep,â€ she would tell Typhon while he dressed her, â€œremember to wash the dishes and clean the bathtub. The chickens need to be fed at midnight exactly because if not they will get worms like the last time.â€
â€œYes grandmotherâ€ he would say, and she would tell chore after chore that took Typhon from night to morning and them from morning to night to finish, to the point where he was worked so hard that sometimes he fell asleep with the mules at the stable. He would finish dressing her for bedtime, like a giant geisha doll, at which point the endless procession of chores would stop for the meantime and then resume when he would walk her to her room.
â€œâ€¦and the candlesticks need polishing and so does my rocking chair. You know I like the brightness of it, I canâ€™t sleep if itâ€™s not shiny. And donâ€™t forget to get the dough ready for tomorrowâ€™s dessert. Iâ€™ve wanted to eat something sweet for a long time now. And the â€“ â€œ
She fixed Typhon with an abrupt stare that he felt stabbed like daggers down his spine.
â€œStand up straight!â€ she would yell and hit Typhon with a massive arm the size of a tree trunk which uprooted him like a frail and thin tree being swung around by the trunk of an elephant.
And when she was in bed, she would continue giving orders until they became unintelligible murmurs as she drifted to sleep.
â€œâ€¦and the birdsâ€¦theyâ€™re stinking up the patioâ€¦throw them in the trashâ€¦â€
â€œYes grandmotherâ€ Typhon would say.
And so it would go on, until on a Sunday afternoon, when the ice had completely melted and the birds did not fall from the branches anymore, the girl from Allende came to the house with a big suitcase with its side full of postage stamps from all over the world that she had stolen from her father and that she had glued to the side of the suitcase with the bubblegum she liked to chew.
So I wrote what amounts to Gabriel Garcia Marquez fan fiction. What ya'll think?