Almost Never A Novel - By Daniel Sada


Sex, as an apt pretext for breaking the monotony; motor-sex; anxiety-sex; the habit of sex, as any glut that can well become a burden; colossal, headlong, frenzied, ambiguous sex, as a game that baffles then enlightens then baffles again; pretense-sex, see-through-sex. Pleasure, in the end, as praise that goes against the grain of life lived. Conjectures cut short during a walk on a pale afternoon. Block after block, ascending, then descending. A strain in the step as well as the mind. The subject was one Demetrio Sordo, tall and thin, almost thirty, fond of the countryside where he plied his trade with a modicum of pleasure, but for recreation: what thrills? Nightly games of dominoes in seedy dives, and those strolls—few and quite dull—of a mere mile or two; or a cup of coffee in the evening, always solitary and perfectly pointless; or the penning of letters to known but already ghostly beings. Hence a rut, and—what should he do?: think, already anticipating certainties and doubts: lots of naysaying, and more reshuffling, all of which helped him find the spark he’d been lacking without taxing his brain on that overcast afternoon. Sex was the most obvious option, but the trick would be to do it every twenty-four hours. If only! A worthy disbursement, indeed. So that very night the agronomist went looking for a brothel. He went hesitantly. His mincing steps gave him away. He descended from the taxi and began walking as if on eggshells or as if the soles of his feet were being shredded by shards of glass. He found himself almost smack in the middle of the red-light district, which was not even remotely Edenic and, to make matters worse, was dimly illuminated. This was only the second time he’d visited such an inferno, so he didn’t know where to go. Casting about, the first thing he saw was a row of scruffy-looking women in ironwood rocking chairs, each one next to the open door of her own mean hovel. A sordid spectacle stretching along the sidewalk he had started down. Those mincing steps quickly turned into long strides. A sensible sprint motivated by his wish to find a high-class brothel. He stopped and asked a passerby. The man willingly obliged. That one over there or the other farther on. Those are the costliest. Then came an exchange regarding the prostitutes he’d find in each (there were all kinds), though Demetrio preferred not to listen to more descriptions and instead took off apace without so much as a thank-you: and, there they were! one brothel named La Entretenida, and the other, Presunción: two yellow buildings like lumpy quadrangles that lent a touch of luster to the twilight: so—which would it be? A pleasant, somewhat extended quandary. He chose Presunción … They charged an entrance fee, as if it were a museum, a bit of a stretch, that: then came a diffident handing over of cash. In exchange, the promise of instant happiness to ward off the gloom, for everything he’d so far fleetingly observed had made an impression, as did the grandeur of the suggestive orange-tinted salon with its many empty armchairs. There was piped-in music but no dance floor: ranchera music, exclusively, and ever so loud.

Was this lugubrious vista luxurious? The newcomer, a gawker, took a seat and continued to gawk. The welcome: gracious hospitality: a chubby man kept pointing to a chair: the kindness of a reiterated gesture. The very next instant the same man asked: What can I get you? and the still-potential client said: Wait a minute, wait. A bashful blush mixed with ardor: Demetrio and his quest in the midst of so much shadowed beauty: overwhelming, but also—titillating? Fortunately, he began to make distinctions: he saw a swarthy brunette with generous proportions, an eccentric vulgarity who smiled like no other. She, aware of being chosen, deliberately settled sumptuously into her armchair in such a way as to regale the gawker with a full view of her luscious legs. An effective ruse, for Demetrio called her over and, solicitous, velvet voiced—come on over here!—she approached slowly: her wavy mane swayed with added élan. She looked as if she were sashaying down a catwalk. Then, without further ado—have a seat! let’s talk! Impatient insinuations necessarily followed by discreet (and somewhat playful) gropings. Modest maneuvers, high tension, a teetering on the edge. In other words, preludes to pleasure: two, yes two, seeking a robust merger, something above and beyond—perhaps—sexual commerce, then devolving into impertinent gawking,