18 December 1937 / Hotel Florida, Madrid

(note: this is a continuation of an account started here.)
I am only a man. I keep telling myself that some things are beyond my control… that my powerful gaze is no threat to a dozen assault-rifle wielding fascists... and that my strong, leathery heart is just as apt to explode from grief as a football that’s violently knifed by some shithead. And though I’m shaking with murderous rage, I must steady my throbbing digits and record the recent atrocity.

I spent the week taking ward of Pepita, Belisma’s cat. It was a week of bliss. Days were spent photographing her as she played with yarn, batted around socks filled with nip, and thrashed all the furniture in the hotel room. My nights were spent developing those photos while Pepita spent her evenings out. I had no idea what she did nor did I ask. Hell, she had a life before I arrived. I knew that. There was no reason to feel left out or jealous. Besides, I was producing some amazing work.

Even that phony Hemingway, my eternal foe, was impressed. Tuesday night, he stumbled into my room by mistake and as we were about to start punching each other, he stopped and stood, mouth agape, staring at the photos drying on the line. Way to dispel those rumors, you sick bastard, I thought. I wrenched him away from the pictures and shoved him out the door. But he did have a point through all that drooling. The pictures were incredible. Too incredible to keep to myself. And I thought they might be a great way to ingratiate myself to the artistic scene of Madrid.

I took the photos and made way to the local cafes. For the rest of the night, I handed out photos while connecting with other artists, including poets, painters, singers, and one classically trained monkey. The places were packed. Yes, there’s war going on, but danger spurs creativity, and that creativity likes to binge drink and socialize after a day’s work. I returned to my room very late, having made some new friends and feeling quite jolly.

The next day, Pepita and I were back into our routine, I smashing up some fish with a mallet for her, and her playfully ignoring me in another room. And then… everything changed. There was a fascist pounding on the door. I thought it was that phony again, but when I answered, a dozen or so men with rifles burst in. Their leader held the pictures of Pepita I had handed out the night before and he demanded to know her location. I feigned ignorance, repeatedly shrugging my shoulders and lifting my eyebrows, but ignorance is a tough ploy for me and they saw through it right away. Some stormed through the hotel suite, while a few trained their weapons on me. I concentrated as hard as I could to make my thoughts heard by Pepita. Stay hidden Pepita, don’t reveal yourself! This is part of a game!

But in a flash, she darted across the room with a screech and there was instant chaos, the militia men trying to seize Pepita, everyone tripping over themselves and shouting obscenities. I grabbed the guns of the nearest two assailants and smashed them over as many heads as I could. Shots were fired. More scuffling and foul mouthing. I lost track of Pepita when I heard it: the unique shriek of a shot cat. Everything stopped. The last thing I remember before being smashed in the skull by a rifle butt was seeing her, my sweet Pepita, fall off the ceiling fan and land with a thud on the floor.

I don’t remember anything more. I woke up and everyone was gone, including Pepita. Poor Pepita. I hold little hope that she is still alive. It is all my fault, my complete and utter failure. I was entrusted with the task of caring for Pepita and neglected to take precautions for possible assassination attempts. Idiot! That is always a possibility!

The truth is, I keep calling those monsters fascists but I have no idea who they were. Franco’s goons? Some other revolutionaries? Whatever side they were on they wanted Pepita out of the picture. Which begs the question, what was she doing those nights? Everything I thought I knew is in doubt now. It all happened so quickly; I don’t remember anything about any of the faces, save for the leader’s mustache, and the details of that are slight… like that little lump on the left that looks like he’s trying to cover up a mole, and on the right, how there was inconsistent growth, perhaps due to a scar, and how the edges were slightly darker than the rest. Again, I should have been focusing on the details. Fool!

Honestly, though, that means nothing to the ache and rage I feel in my heart. Maybe I’ll sketch what I can remember, if someone around here might recognize him, and just the mere focus will help soften my anger to the point where I can function. If it doesn’t take the edge off, I’ll go next door and savagely pummel Hemingway.

(note: see the next entry from Madrid here.)