- Miracle in Parque Chas
That night the streets in the little barrio of Parque Chas reminded me more than ever of La Chacarita cemetery. Those modest little houses of Berlín and Varsovia Streets, their narrow windows and gray walls, no doubt corresponded to the marble and stone vaults of the neighboring cemetery. Houses a little smaller, of course, a little more silent, but essentially the same.
Vault or small house, each had the same proud enclosure of private property, the same persistent desire for a front yard, the pot of flowers, the same respectful barrier at the entrance. Even the garden dwarfs and the dogs on the terraces maintained their relationship with certain figures of virgins or of guardian angels in the friezes of the mausoleums.
I admit I was depressed.
A few days earlier I had found myself out of work, and the Brazilians were beating us, 1–0, in the final round of the Copa América. That’s what the voice of the commentator was telling me, drilling my brain through the earpieces of my Walkman. Maybe that’s why that cloud of funereal thoughts were arranging themselves to wear down my spirits, in the background, but uniformly in the direction of sadness and defeat.
I arrived at Triunvirato Avenue, looking for an open stand to buy cigarettes, and I stopped in front of the display window of a store that sold household articles.
A group of six or seven men was following the action of the game that appeared on the illuminated screens of several television sets. It always made me a little uneasy to see these solitary men; it’s easy to imagine them hungry, cold, suffering with a desire that attains only the crumbs of comfort. In spite of everything, within the deserted and dimly lit avenue, the group seemed an island of hope for humanity.
I stood behind all of them, and, like them, I became mesmerized by the mute images on the screens. I had the doubtful advantage of sound, with the voice of [End Page 419] the commentator detailing the movement of the players. That’s to say, the errors of our team and the devastating advance of the Brazilians.
Suddenly the lights blinked, the screens faded to a final, luminous glow, and afterward they went completely black, leaving us disconsolate and gasping like puppies that had been pulled off a teat. I don’t know why, maybe because I was the one who had arrived last, all their faces turned toward me. I shrugged my shoulders, a little disconcerted.
“A fuse must have blown,” I proposed.
They kept looking at me. What did they want from me? I knew little or nothing about electricity.
“Come on, man,” an old guy wearing a gray beret finally revealed the situation. “Since you’re still connected, tell us how the game is going.”
As children we’ve all had the fantasy of being soccer commentators, we’ve all tried, at some time, to attain the impressive velocity necessary to follow the path of a ball and the players running after it. I don’t deny it. But to have myself launched like that to narrate, suddenly and without any preparation, that’s another story.
Some of them advanced a step toward me; I didn’t know, at that point, whether with a menacing attitude or probably they were just trying to position themselves better. I looked at them. I saw in the front of the group a youngster with rings under his eyes, wrapped up in a green scarf, a heavyset, tough-looking man in a leather jacket, a light-complexioned man with a worn face and a folded newspaper under his arm …
They were dejected men, punished sufficiently by the politicians, by the lack of work and of hope, by the clumsiness of our national team, and now, on top of everything else, by this unexpected power outage that left them again outside the game.
It was a duty of solidarity to grab that ball.
I began timidly to repeat the words of the commentator...