Tropical Animal (fragment)
Pedro Juan Gutiérrez
I. The fiery serpent
A SWEDISH university had invited me to some literature seminars which take place every spring. Seminars don’t interest me, literary studies even less so, but I thought I could use the occasion to get to know the country, all expenses paid. For some reason that I have no wish to tryto recall — I think Sweden’s social democracy didn’t much please those who had to authorize my voyage — I couldn’t make my little Scandinavian tour, So I began to exchange phone calls and correspondence with Agneta, the course coordinator. Each conversation was warmer. We were a year at this little game. I sent her some of my poems. Later, she mail-ordered Dirty Havana Trilogy, which they sent toher from Barcelona. When she began to read those stories she called me every day, upset. She stuttered into the telephone, and soon everything began to have a much more intimate tone.
By sheer coincidence, I spent Christrnas of 1998 in the Alps. I was with a woman friend, a photographer, in a wooden cabin in the middle of the mountains, which might seem like something out of a romantic novel.But no, that’s exactly how it was. One gray, cloudy, wind-swept afternoon, I was drinking whiskies while rny friend took photos of me. As the alcohol went to my head, I began to take off my clothes. When women look at me naked, my dick gets hard, especially if a camera is involved. That’s just the way I am. The photos turned out very well: me, in the snow, totally naked, with my prick stiff. Myfriend printed them in sepia and I seemed so young, with such an erect and attractive ego, that I couldn’t resist and I sent Agneta one of those photos as a Christmas gift.
I am a seducer. I know. Just as there are inveterate alcoholics, people addicted to gambling, caffeine, nicotine, marijuana, kleptomaniacs7 etcetera, I am addícted to seduction. Sometimes the little angel inside me triesto take control, and says: ’Don’t be such a son of a bitch, Pedrito. Don’t you see that you make these women suffer?’ But then up jumps the little devil, and contradicts him: ’Go ahead. They’re happy like that, even if it’s only for a while. And you’re happy too. Don’t feel guilty.’
It’s a vice. I know that seduction is a vice equal to any other. But Seducers Anonymous doesn’t exist. lf itdid, it might be able to do something for me. Although I’m not so sure. I’d probably make excuses not to go near their sessions, not to have to stand up shamefaced in front of everyone, put my hand on the Bible and serenely say: ’My name is Pedro Juan. I’m a seducer. And today makes twenty-seven days that I haven’t seduced anyone.’
By March, I was back in Havana. Life was very peaceful. I waspainting, experimenting with sorne recycled rnaterials; by which I mean with garbage ¡’d collected on street corners. I had a lot of material available to me. In the afternoons, I was drinking rum, smoking my cigars, seducing black women or mulattas. I adore them. You won’t catch me writing here that blacks are superior — that would be inverse racism — but I am convinced that we have to mix more;that we have to provoke miscegenation, manufacture more mulattas and mulattos. Míscegenation saves. That’s why I like black women. Well, that’s not exactly it. When you fuck, you don’t give a shit about anyone’s salvation. But I do have a couple of enchanting mulatta daughters who corroborate that idea.
Soon Agneta organized another trip to Sweden for me from Stockholm. Though she seemed herusual hyper-efficient self, I also sensed that she had changed. What with the poems, the stories from the Trilogy, and my naked photo in the alpine snow, her neuronal rhythms were in an uproar. She called me almost daily and said things like: ’Last night I couldn’t sleep. You’ve got me into a state. Is everythíng you write true?’
And I answered her: ’Yes. I have little imagination.’...