Then, and There

By Carlos Esteban Cana

(Translated from Spanish by Iris Mónica Vargas)

Flash Fiction

It happened during the first round of beers. We called him crazy because he said that, everywhere around him, there was, what he called, “the sacred number of God.” That when he glanced at the clock it was three past eleven in the morning; that the phone number the State provides if you have symptoms of coronavirus, 999- 6202, more or less gives 33; that when he opened a book, the page he got was number 33; that if he stopped, accidentally, on second 10, a YouTube video about “The mysteries of number 33” (which lasted 6:11), for which he summed 11 + 6 + 10, equals 27, to which he added 3 + 3 to account for the two digits of the title, finally he got, again, that blessed number, 33. It didn’t matter what the mathematical operation was that he was executing in relation to what presented itself to him. The addition, substraction, multiplication or division always yielded the “sacred number.” And we, overwhelmed with this litany, began chanting: “Crazy! Crazy! Crazy!” When we had already tired of making fun of him, irate, he yelled: “Do you see, assholes, that even your insults make reference to the age of the resurrected Son of God! Thirty and three times you have called me crazy! You know what?! Go to hell!” And he left, frenzied, without looking back while our laughter could still be heard over at that bar. Now that we are all on our second round of beers we see on the giant TV screen how the player with number 32 on his jersey passes the ball on to player number 1 who dunks, right then and there.

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