A Good Wife – César Valdebenito

Translated from the Spanish by Toshiya Kamei


“Every woman fantasizes about killing her husband,” I said.
“Javiera, why do you torture me?” said Carlos, my husband.
“I too have the same desire, but I’m determined to make it a reality.”
“Are you kidding me?” he said.
“When we separate, you won’t get a peso of my money, you’ll see. That’s the way things are. You won’t see a peso of my money.”
“Oh yeah? Hahaha.”
“I will transfer all my possessions to my sister. Do you know what that means? Transfer possessions. Of course not, you don’t know shit. You’re an idiot.”
He answered that he would take me to court.
I pissed myself laughing. “You’re just dumb, just so fucking dumb.” Then I told him to get out of my sight. He got up and went out into the street.
The next day when he knocked on the door, I let him in. I was with my friend Hipólita: five children, separated twice, she weighed around seventy kilos. She was short and ugly, so she was alone. The poor woman always complained that she hadn’t been fucked for twenty years, even though she offered herself to every man she met.
Carlos was next to me.
“Show the sweet spot between your legs,” I told Hipólita.
Hipólita sat on the sofa, lifted her dress, and spread her legs while praying the Hail Mary.
I looked at Carlos. “Don’t tell me you’re now a fucking fag. Good thing you don’t believe in psychoanalysis, astrology, or flying saucers, but my friend is flesh and blood and what you see between her legs is something real, so go for it. Please don’t let me down. Consider giving her a small gift or an offering. It’s nothing out of the ordinary. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
I guess Carlos concluded that my brain was getting out of whack. However, he dropped his pants and did Hipólita a favor.
On Friday of the same week we were seated eating pizza. Carlos was silent.
“I won’t leave you a peso,” I said, unperturbed. “You will go through hell, you’ll see.” I liked to make things clear.
“Don’t bring that up again. It’s like a never ending story.” He gave me a scornful glare.
I grabbed his hair and began to bang his head against a wooden mortar on the table. First I broke his nose, then fractured his jaw, and then busted his lip, knocking his teeth out. I fetched a baseball bat and struck his knee, and when he crawled, I kept bashing him with the bat.
“Don’t you ever laugh at a woman again, you bastard. Dumbasses like you are fucking machistas, but every machista, deep down, is a coward. We women who wear the pants in the family know it. Do you understand that, nitwit?”
He lay on the floor, his face akin to a tomato paste. My hands hurt and bled from beating him so much. If I remember correctly, I sprained a couple of fingers. I lay on the bed for about two hours to rest and catch my breath, and then called the ambulance. While I waited, I turned on the TV. Then came the news about a journalist kidnapped by the Jihadists. The screen showed an image of a jihadist who threatened to slit the hostage’s throat. Then a reporter announced that a billionaire had donated part of his fortune to mitigate the impact of the current famine in Haiti and the camera showed half-naked, dirty children in the streets. My heart clenched and I felt my eyes watering.
A week later he came home from the hospital. That weekend we sat down again at the table and he was so quiet that I had to ask him:
“Well, what’s today’s topic? Let’s talk about something, whatever.”
Carlos didn’t say a word. I was scared a bit because he wasn’t sick or going through some kind of crisis. If there was a crisis, that could slip into this creature’s soul.
“I don’t intend to pay your hospital bill. Look at these two fingers. You’re a brute, a real brute. What do you say to that? You don’t say anything? You’re an idiot. That’s what you are.”
Carlos continued to gobble down his veggie salad and lentils.
“So you tried to kill your father? Why would anyone want to kill his own father?” I cried out.
“Here we go again.”
“Hahaha. You wanted to kill your father because he was going to disinherit you. What kind of stupid idea came into your head? How can you be so dumb! Two attempts to poison him and the doses turned out to be very small, hahaha! What a shame, a big bore!”
“I am.”
“And you admit it, hahaha…”
I laughed so hard that tears rolled down my face. Carlos was silent. When I calmed down, I continued:
“And then you realized you’ve got no guts to try again. You felt scruples and then the old man kicked the bucket and all his money went to a foundation for the disabled. A heart attack…hahaha. Yes, you’re a brute. You’ve carved out a great future for yourself. You should have broken my neck a long time ago, a long, long time ago, hahaha. What do you say to that? Cat got your tongue? Huh?”
Then I got up, put on some Mozart to help me relax, and poured myself a glass of wine. The bottle had been given to me by the company for being the best worker and employee of the month.
Three days later we were seated at the kitchen table again.
“So today you haven’t eaten anything because you’re furious… Damn fool,” I told him.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Do you really think I don’t notice? That’s what you think. You think we’re all like you, but no, sir. You’re furious because I tell you a few facts you don’t want to hear and because you’re incapable of retaliating. What a moron. So you want to get away? So you’re a sentimental cocky guy who wants to get even? If you’re a coward, how are you going to retaliate! Come here! Come here!”
He stood beside the table. I took a knife from a drawer, a knife to cut meat, and put it in his hand. I forced him to wield it and then made him raise his arm and place the tip of the knife between my breasts.
“Let’s see. Now thrust it! Come on! Thrust it! Let’s see if you’ve got the guts!” I told him.
I waited for half a minute, but he dropped his arm and laid the knife on the table.
“You see? You’re a pushover, that’s what you are. You make me ashamed. I don’t know how you coaxed me, how I married a man like this. Hahaha, you’re a pathetic bum, that’s what you are: a bum, a simpleton, a fool.”
On Monday, November 23, I was lounging in a chair drinking a beer. He was lying on the sofa and started to cry.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked. I couldn’t bear to see him cry.
“I’m crying because my mother’s house has just burned down,” he told me.
“You’re a pyromaniac and you’re crying because your mother’s house burned down. What an idiot. What kind of pyromaniac are you? And on top of it all, you’re a firefighter. What kind of man are you? What an idiot and now you don’t stop crying and talking. You’re very nervous and you’re a pathetic idiot. How do you not know that? You’re hopeless. What good do all those muscles do? What good does it do to go to the gym and lift so many weights? Hahaha. It’s incredible. It’s really amazing. I think your problem is that you listen to many romantic songs, that’s your problem: Camilo Sesto, Cristian Castro, Julio Iglesias, a lot of Silvio and a lot of sentimental heartthrobs and that’s not normal. Don’t tell me you’re an incurable romantic. You’re an abnormal brute and it will do you good to accept it. It’s very logical, you’re a brute, hahaha.”
Carlos continued crying.
“Stop crying. Just accept it. You’re a coward, a vile coward. Oh my God! How did it come to this!”
He remained silent, then got up, and went into his bedroom. I continued eating. “You’re a moron, you’re afraid of facing reality. You’re going to say you’re not, but what a brute you are.”
After fifteen minutes he came out of his room with a suitcase in his hand, opened the front door, and continued walking.
“Let me make it clear that I won’t give you a peso, not a single peso. Are you listening to me? You will be sorry. You will regret this. You’ll see. You damned idiot. How could I not realize it before you had become…? Now you’re dumping me. You leave a woman alone, but your kind is like that, always going back on your word. I can’t believe it! How could I fall so low! And now you’re dumping me. What will become of me? What will I do? You see the mess you got me into? You’re an idiot!”
But he didn’t stop. He kept walking, one step and then another, until he disappeared around the corner. At least I made things clear to him, he wasn’t going to make fun of me, no one had done it, and I didn’t think anyone would do it.


Born in 1975 in Concepción, Chile, César Valdebenito is a poet, writer, and essayist. His books include the novels La vida nunca se acaba (2017) and Una escena apocalíptica (2016), as well as the short story collections El bindú o la musa de la noche (2017) and Pequeñas historias para mentes neuróticas (2018). His short story “The Great Family” has recently appeared in Terror House Magazine.