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Siete minutos by Ismael Camacho Arango- Translated and edited by Maria Camacho

6: Jaramillo


Sitting in the backyard, Homer imagined all the money he might make with the heads, while the tree of life swayed in the breeze, its branches brushing against the windows.

He recalled Uncle Hugh’s visit all those years ago, when he danced around the garden singing to the stars and had an invisible friend.

The death of his parents seemed far away, as the noises of the world echoed around him in the afternoon ether.

The birds sang full of the joys of life, as they flew about the branches of the tree. Homer thought his parents had to be pleased with him.

He had met the Indian with his allure of the jungle, and the shop had done well. Resting against the tree, he shut his eyes to the world as the breeze caressed his face and ruffled his hair.

He must have dozed for a few moments, because the sun had gone behind the clouds when he opened his eyes.

Listening to the sounds of the world, Homer didn’t notice a shadow moving through the garden.

At first the red bricks looked grubby but then a little boy with dirty clothes and picking his nose stood against the wall.

Homer hoped the child might go away, but after moving along the path the apparition stopped by the tree.

“I must be dreaming,” Homer muttered to himself.

He wondered whether the boy existed outside his imagination. Ignored by his parents, he had learned to have silent companions during his early years, when he had played alone in the garden.

He used to run his cars along the path, killing ants and other creatures in his way. They had to learn of his superior status in the house.

Standing by the tree, the child looked real, as they looked at each other under the rays of the sun.

“Hi,” Homer said.

That single phrase broke some of the ice, but the boy kept his silence, ignoring the flies and the wasps flying by his face.

Homer remembered other times, while Jose picked his nose, unaware of all the chaos around him

“Where is your mother?” he asked.

Homer shrugged. “She died.



Looking at the kitchen window, Homer noticed the bottles he had left there a few days before, and the cloth Maria used to wipe the surfaces.

His mother had gone to the kingdom of the sky some time ago, but a mirage like Jose shouldn’t understand that. Then he felt the boy’s dark eyes searching his mind.

Life had changed a lot, since he had last seen his friend. Leaving childhood behind, Homer had grown into a tall man, but Jose had remained the same.

”I had to leave early yesterday,” he said.

“That was a long time ago.”

“Time doesn’t matter.”

Jose caressed the tree full of brown patches and moss. As Homer barked, Jose imitated him, their voices rising to the sky.

Time seemed to have stopped amidst the flowering plants and the mud covering everything. Memories of the past assailed Homer’s mind, as he remembered that day, when reality had mixed with his dreams. The nature of time, the universe and life itself went through his mind.

“Do you still want to be invisible?” Jose asked.

“I don’t know.”

Homer didn’t need the invisibility cloak to survive in life. Resting his head against the tree, he admired his friend’s youth in spite of the years.

Jose had not aged at all since the last time Homer had seen him.

His eyes had that light brown colour while his cheeks kept the same spots of dirt. He must have learned how to conquer time and space.

“Where is your uncle?” the child asked.

“He’s a journalist in New York.”

“Good for him.”

Memories of that day came back to Homer’s mind, as he looked at a toy car rotting amidst the wild flowers. The tricycle Uncle Hugh had given him to go around the yard had survived through the years and he had last seen it in the cellar.

“Can you guess the future?” Homer asked.

“It’s all around you.”

“You keep on repeating sentences.”

“Everything will end one day,” Jose said.


”I can’t tell you anymore.”

The sounds of the garden intruded in the silence. At first Jose talked of life, but now he mentioned the end of the world, wherever it would be.

Homer had learned to ignore his invisible friend. As he touched his nose, Jose did the same thing and they sneezed at the same time.

“Are you a part of me?” Homer asked.

“I don’t understand.”

“You seem to guess my thoughts.”

Jose played with the lower branches of the tree, dislodging a few dried leaves and some of the seeds. They would bring more life to the garden.

As Homer studied his friend, he remembered the invisibility cloak protecting him against the world. Jose’s clothes flapped in the breeze, as They touched their heads and coughed at the same time.

“Shut your eyes,” Jose said.

Homer didn’t know what surprise in the middle of the garden, Jose had for him. Listening to the sounds of the world, he waited for something to happen.

The dog had stopped barking, but then he heard voices intruding in his reality. On opening his eyes, Maria appeared by his side, accompanied by a tall man.

“He wanted to see you,” she said.

“Good afternoon,” he said. “I’m Jaramillo.”

Wearing smart clothes, he kept away from the wall and the branches of the tree, as Maria went back to the kitchen.

”I hope I haven’t disturbed you,” he said.

Jose had disappeared before the stranger had come to the garden. Jaramillo brushed away a few cobwebs sticking to his shirt, avoiding the dirty patches in the garden. Checking his trousers, he made sure they were all right and without any tears.

“I’m a friend of your Uncle Hugh,” he said.

“He’s in New York.”

“I met him there.”

After rummaging in his bag, he showed Homer pictures of the shrunken head along with articles about the Amazonian jungle and its secrets.

“A shop wants some more heads,” he said.

Images of all the money he might make went trough Homer’s mind, as he took the journalist back to the kitchen, where he crashed with a bin full of rubbish, boxes of merchandise falling on the floor.

Standing amidst all the mess, Jaramillo picked up a few things that had finished by his feet.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“Don’t worry.”

The journalist looked at the dirty table before sitting in one of the dusty chairs. Homer sat by his side, after putting a few things on the floor.

“When will you go to the jungle?” Jaramillo asked.

“I have to wait for the Indian to come back.”

“The Indian?”

While opening the map amidst all the clutter on the table, Homer pushed more things to the floor.

Then he studied the map full of greasy spots, his father had kept it for years next to the bottles in the cupboard.

Finding Bogota in the middle of the mess, Homer looked for the mark the Indian had made amongst the dirt in the paper.

“I think he lives by the Guaviare River,” he said.

Jaramillo examined the map, as Maria put cups of coffee on the table.

“Your heads must be there,” he said.

“I hope so.”

Homer sipped his coffee, looking at the spot called Mitu- the capital of the Guaviare province in the middle of nowhere.

Miles away from civilisation, the Indian town lay amidst utopia.

Homer might have to ride amidst the trees and wild animals to go there.

“He wanted coca leaves,” he said.

“Can’t they grow them in the jungle?”

“I don’t know.”

Opening his notebook on the table, Jaramillo wrote the conversation they had just had, leaving a few marks on the paper.

He must have touched something dirty when sitting at the table. Wiping his hands in his handkerchief, he examined them carefully before writing more things about the jungle.

“Do you want to appear in the papers?” he asked. “They’ll pay you money.”

The mention of money made Homer happy. He would sell his story for lots of pesos to the journalists. He had to get lots of money.

“I want to take civilization to remote parts of the jungle,” he said.

“Well done.”

Jaramillo wrote down Homer’s statements for future reference. Wanting to take civilisation to the far reaches of the jungle, Homer had to conquer the wildest parts of the country.

Then the journalist spent a few moments wiping hands once more.

“You must come to my office next time,” he said.

Having put his pen and paper in his bag, Jaramillo got ready to go.

“Call me if the Indian comes again,” he said.

“I’ll do that.”

After making his way through all the boxes, papers and other things, he reached the door, where Homer joined him.

Miguel served a customer in the shop and the street was full of people, as the journalist moved through the market on his way to his hotel.

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