My friend Miguel, he was minister of health… I believe he is no longer with us.
by Harry Buschman
“Miguel Allende? Yes he is in the cell at the end of this block, we keep all the politicals in there.” The jailer smiled. “But why bother, you can’t tell one from the other.”
‘The cell door is open, aren’t you afraid they’ll walk out?”
“There’s no way out of this prison, sénor. There is no exit. If they want to leave they have to come through here …” the jailer smiled and rubbed his hands together … “they know that. I am the cat that stands between the mouse and its hole.”
“I must speak to Allende.”
“You have my permission sénor. Go ahead.”
“I don’t want to go in there alone, you must come in with me.
“Bullshit, sénor. You are in Colombia now, they would do to me what I would do to them. Besides, you won’t be alone with him. There are fourteen others in there just like him.”
“In the same cell?”
“They are all politicals. The last President threw them all in jail together the same night – “in” was out in those days. These were the outs, and now I suppose they will be the ins again.”
The visitor stepped into the courtyard and shouted. “ALLENDE,” MIGUEL … MIGUEL ALLENDE!” There was no response. The man turned to the jailer. “Why doesn’t he come out when I call him?”
“He has been in here fifteen years sénor, it is a strange thing in this place. You forget who you are, your name, your family. In time you are nothing but an animal in a cage. You have only one thought … to stay alive. When you hear your name called, you shrink from it. If it was the voice of your wife you would not go to her.” The jailer opened a drawer in his desk and withdrew a small cloth bag. “Here are his belongings, sénor. Perhaps there is something in there that will jog his memory. I have been here too long myself, I think – I have forgotten many things.”
The man opened the bag and withdrew a small photograph of a woman and a child. “Yes, this was his wife and his daughter. They are dead now. It would be cruel for him to know – perhaps it would be better to leave him where he is.”
“I think it is wise sénor, here at least he can be the way he is.”