Eddie Pensier writes:
‘The only thing we can do is sell the rooster,’ said the woman.
‘We can also sell the clock.’
‘They won’t buy it.’
‘Tomorrow I’ll try to see if Alvaro will give me the forty pesos.’
‘He won’t give them to you.’
‘Then we’ll sell the picture.’ ` When the woman spoke again, she was outside the mosquito net again. The colonel smelled her breath impregnated with medicinal herbs.
‘They won’t buy it,’ she said.
‘We’ll see,’ the colonel said gently, without a trace of change in his voice. ‘Now, go to sleep. If we can’t sell anything tomorrow, we’ll think of something else.’
He tried to keep his eyes open but sleep broke his resolve. He fell to the bottom of a substance without time and without space, where the words of his wife had a different significance. But a moment later he felt himself being shaken by the shoulder.
The colonel didn’t know if he had heard those words before or after he had slept. Dawn was breaking. The window stood out in Sunday’s green clarity. He thought he had a fever. His eyes burned and he had to make a great effort to clear his head.
‘What will we do if we can’t sell anything?’ the woman repeated.
‘By then it will be January 20th,’ the colonel said, completely awake. ‘They’ll pay the twenty per cent that afternoon.’
‘If the rooster wins,’ the woman said. ‘But if he loses. It hasn’t occurred to you that the rooster might lose.
‘He’s one rooster that can’t lose.’
‘But suppose he loses.’
‘There are still forty-four days left to begin to think about that,’ the colonel said.
The woman lost her patience.
‘And meanwhile what do we eat?’ she asked, and seized the colonel by the collar of his flannel night shirt. She shook him hard.
It had taken the colonel seventy-five years – the seventy-five years of his life, minute by minute – to reach this moment. He felt pure, explicit, invincible at the moment when he replied:
–last lines of No-one writes to the colonel (El coronel no tiene quien le escriba), Gabriel García Márquez