“That got me hooked.”
“I don’t understand. What got you hooked?”
“Having to operate according to a different logic, learning to let go,” I looked at him before going on. “Then,” I paused, “there was the wall.”
“What wall?” he turned to look at me.
“When I went down and into the bedroom where the woman was undressing, the room had no far wall. Since then, I’ve been looking for it.” He looked surprised at what I said.
We were close to Tijeretas. Just around the last reef was the port. Soon it would be dark. The sky was orange with violet streaks. When the sunset the world would disappear.
“The far wall?” he asked.
I could barely see his outline, I couldn’t see his expression, nor how interested he was in my answer.
“The end. It has to be someplace, I keep looking for it,” I said.
Then Victor signaled for me to get the equipment together, we sailed into port, and we unloaded. The rest of the week we kept diving, each time farther out, each time farther down. We found nothing. The same thing happened the following week. On the Monday of the third week, we didn’t go in a boat but, instead, we hauled the equipment onto a yacht with a metal hull, its navigation instruments connected to a satellite. Once there, I heard the historian yelling as he tried to talk to the small man with the captain’s cap. When they were finished arguing, he approached and said to Victor that he no longer needed him, but that he still needed my services to take care of the tanks. With the yacht came fifteen divers trained by the North American navy. They spent a month on San Cristóbal and they didn’t find anything, either. During those thirty days, Will—that was the historian’s name—taught me how to measure longitude and latitude and also told me about Selkirk, Juan Fernández Island, Cape Horn, and about how the English Crown executed the pirates it arrested. Of all the stories he told me, it’s the one I remember best. He told me about it while he drank from a bottle he had chilled in an ice bucket at his feet. He told me that they ordered steel suits made to measure, out of sheets, that left strips of skin exposed. They took the prisoners locked inside those personalized cages to London Bridge where they were crucified in the air. What I mean is, he told me, they were hung with ropes tied to their outstretched arms, gravity did the rest to their joints. From bellow they looked like they were suspended in the air. Birds fought over who would finish them off first. Albatrosses, pelicans, seagulls fighting desperately to tear out the tastiest strips of exposed skin. Will paused and then emptied the bottle, which was more than half full. When he began talking again, he slurred his words and his eyeballs swam in a sea of tears. While they bled to death or the damned birds managed to rip out an organ or they choked while their limbs collapsed—are you listening to me, boy?—they were surrounded by a cyclone of feathers whipped by the gale.