El Vampiro (The Vampire) by Horacio Quiroga
Translated by Ana Lucía Alonso and sam smiley
"Yes" said the lawyer Rhode. “I had that case. It is a situation, quite rare for here, of vampirism. Rogelio Castelar, a man until then normal outside of some fantasies, was discovered one night in the cemetery as he dragged the recently buried body of a woman. The individual's hands were destroyed because he had recently removed one cubic meter of the earth with his fingernails. In the side of the grave lay the remains of the coffin, newly burnt. And as a macabre complement, a cat, no doubt an outsider, lay thereby with broken kidneys. As you can see, nothing lacked in the scene.
-----------------------------“In the first interview with the man, I saw that I had to contend with a mournful and crazy person. At first, he was obstinant and did not respond to me although he did not stop nodding his head at my reasonings. Finally he appeared to find in me a man deserving of hearing him. His mouth trembled with the anxiety of communicating.”
"Ah! You understand me!" he exclaimed, fixing on me his fevered eyes. With a vertigo that you would barely believe, he continued, this which I remember:
"To you I will say everything! Yes! You mean what was that like, about the...the cat? I! Only I!
Listen to me: When I arrived..there, my wife..."
"Where THERE?" I interrupted him.
-----------------------------"THERE..the cat or no? So? ...When I arrived, my wife ran like crazy and embraced me. And immediately she fainted. Everyone then ran rapidly to me, looking down at me with crazy eyes. My house! It had burned, crumbled, and sank with everything inside! That, that was my house! But not she, my wife of mine!”
Then a spiteful man, devoured by madness shook me on the shoulder, yelling at me:
“What are you doing? Answer me!”
And I answered him:
“It is my wife! my wife of mine who has survived”
Then a cry rose:
“It is not her! That is not!”
I felt that my eyes, lowering their glance at what I had between my arms, wanted to jump out of their sockets. Was this not María, the Maria of mine, and fainted? A shock of blood lit my eyes. From my arms fell a woman who was not María. Then I jumped on a barrel and overpowered all the workers. And shouted with a hoarse voice: “Why, Why!”
Not even one of them was combed because the wind threw all of their hair to the side. And the eyes from outside looking at me.
Then I started to hear from everywhere:
“She was crushed to death”
“She screamed only once.”
“I felt her scream”
“His wife was crushed to death.”
“By all the saints!” I then shouted, wringing my hands. “Let us save her, comrades! It is our duty to save her!”
And all of us ran. Everyone ran with a silent fury to the rubble. The bricks flew, the framework swayed, the removal advanced, leaping.
At 4:00, only I worked. I did not have a healthy nail, nor in my fingers was there anything else to dig. But in my chest! Anguish and fury and horrid misfortune trembling in my chest in looking for my María!
Nothing remained but the piano to remove. There was an epidemic silence, a fallen petticoat, and dead rats. Under the lying piano, on the granite floor of blood and charcoal, was the crushed servant.
I took her out to the patio, where nothing remained but four silent walls, viscous with tar and water. The slippery floor reflected the dark sky. Then I took the servant and began to drag her around of the patio.
They were mine, these steps. And what steps! A step, another step, another step!
In the hollow of a door..charcoal and water, nothing more- was huddled the cat of the house, who had escaped the disaster, although battered. The fourth time that the servant and I passed in front of her, the cat howled in anger.
“Ah! It was not I, then?” I shouted desperately. “Was it not I who looked in the rubble, the debris and the shroud of the framework, for one piece of my María?”
The sixth time that we passed in front of the cat, the animal bristled. The seventh time, it rose, dragging its feet behind it. And it followed us then so, striving to wet its tongue on the oiled hair of the servant - of her, of María, no damned corpse stealer.
-----------------------------“Corpse stealer!” I repeated and looked at him. “But then that was in the cemetery!”
The vampire flattened his own hair while he looked at me with his immense crazy eyes.
“So you knew, then!” he articulated. “So everyone knows this and lets me speak for an hour! Ah!” he roared a sob, throwing his head back and gliding against the wall until he fell, seated. “But who tells me, the wretch that I am, here, why in my house I pulled out my nails but did not save from the tar even the hanging hair of my María!”
“Nothing more was needed, as you understand” concluded the lawyer “to orient myself completely regarding the individual. He was admitted immediately. It has been two years from this, and last night he has come out, perfectly cured.”
“Last night?” exclaimed a young man in deep mourning. “And at night they discharge the insane?”
“But why not? The individual is cured, as sane as you or I. Furthermore, if he lapses, which is the law of these vampires, by this time he will be back in action. But these are not my issues. Good night, gentlemen.”