Fiestas is a collection of short stories beginning just before the Spanish Civil War and ending sixty years later in a Spain modern, rich, and forgetful of past hardship. They are tales of ordinary Spaniards living the fiestas of their lives—the loves, deaths, miseries, and minor triumphs of the twentieth century. If one thing and only one were to define such people it’s that they understand that they have no time to waste regretting anything, that life is worth what it does to them.

“The Black Spot” is one of its stories.

Published Works THE BLACK SPOT

All the mothers on our block used to pass by No. 1 Hermosilla Street, one of the finest addresses in Madrid, and mutter a curse at the porter’s boy who was leading their sons astray. “Let Nicolás go to hell,” they’d say.

I was the leader of the neighborhood boys. No one disputed my right to be leader, because I was the worst kid. I wasn’t as big as Carlitos, whose father was a contractor or master workman as they called them in those days, nor was I as well dressed as Tomasín whose father owned a clothing store on Serrano Street, nor was I from a bourgeois family like Luísito whose father taught philosophy at the University, nor from a rich and powerful family like Enrique, who lived upstairs. I was merely the least afraid or maybe the least willing to admit to fear. I had a bit of imagination and could see possibilities for fun in everything.

I was the one who stole the wine vessel and a pocketful of sacred hosts from the Church of the Santisimo Cristo del Salud and held High Mass in the vacant lot down the street, with bastard Latin and Mama’s bathrobe for a vestment. Every one of my gang took communion, and we swore to be comrades forever. We were eight years old. After mass I took the vessel, which looked like a bottle for holding olive oil or vinegar, and sneaked it back into the sacristy before Father Bernardo noticed it was gone.

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Winner of the 2005
George Garrett Fiction Prize.
Paperback | Texas Review Press
Fiction/ Literature | 978-1-881515-95-1

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