On the Hill

Vida sin amigos, muerte sin testigos

By Daniel A. Olivas
Published on LatinoLA: August 15, 2002

On the Hill

On the hill, Arturo?s house stood for three score years. In that time, he had married, become a fitful though thoughtful father of two boys and one girl, watched his wife wither into nothing from cancer, and was left alone when his children abandoned Mexico for California and Texas in search of riches.

Arturo?s heart hung hard and heavy in his chest as he wandered his empty house at night, candle in hand because he no longer paid his utility bills, listening to the silence and watching the ghosts jump and roll and play.

"Dios sabe lo que hace," Arturo used to think.

But now, as the floorboards creaked, and the candle flickered in the draft, he could not believe that God knew what He was doing when He took everything away from Arturo.

On the hill Arturo?s house stood for three score years. The other villagers lost all curiosity and concern for him long ago, and he appreciated living an unobserved life. He cobbled together his meager, solitary existence clinging to the essential truth of the dicho Mexicano: M?s vale no ponerse en el tocadero. One should not place oneself in harm?s way.

So, he grew his food, kept his chickens and nurtured his two goats, thus relieving him of the villagers? company.

On the hill Arturo?s house stood for three score years. When the villagers found the chickens and goats starving, and the little garden dried up and crumbling in the wind, they ventured into the house.

They found Arturo?s body lying cold, pale with stench beginning, on his bed, curled in a ball, clutching the pillow that Eleazar?s head once slept on.

The villagers said, "Vida sin amigos, muerte sin testigos." A life without friends, a death without witnesses.

And Arturo?s ghost laughed at the villagers? ignorance.

About Daniel A. Olivas:
"On the Hill" is from Daniel A. Olivas' unpublished short story collection, "Devil Talk." Visit his web page at: http://www.homestead.com/DanielOlivas/olivas.html or write him at olivasdan@aol.com.

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