Monday dawned warm and rainless. Don
Aurelio Escovar, a dentist without a title and a very early riser, opened his office at six. He took the glass false teeth,
still mounted in plaster cast and put on the table a fistful of instruments which he arranged from highest to lowest, as in
an exhibition. He wore a striped shirt without a collar, closed up with a golden stud, and pants held up by suspenders. It
was hard, lean, with a look that rarely corresponded to the situation, as the eyes of the deaf.
When he had things arranged on the
table, he pulled the drill toward the dental chair and sat down to polish the false teeth. He seemed not to think about what
he did, but he worked doggedly, pedaling the drill, even when he did not need it.
After eight paused to watch the sky
through the window and saw two pensive buzzards who were drying in the sun on the bridge of the next house. He continued working
with the idea that before lunch it rained again. The shrill voice of his eleven year old son pulled him from his abstraction.
-They mayor tells you to bring out
-Tell him I am not here
He was polishing a gold tooth. He
held it at arm's length, and examined it with eyes half closed. In the waiting room, his son shouted again.
-He says you are here because he can
The dentist kept examining the tooth.
Only when I put on the table with the work completed, he said:
He operated the mill. From a cardboard
box where he kept the things to do, took out a bridge of several pieces and began to polish the gold.
Still had not changed expression.
-He says if you do not take his tooth
out, he will shoot you
Without hurrying, with an extremely
tranquil movement, he stopped pedaling the drill, the retired chair and pulled the lower drawer of the table. There was a
-Good- he said-. Tell him to come
He rolled the chair over opposite
the door, his hand resting on the edge of the drawer. The mayor appeared at the door. He had shaved the left cheek, but on
the other, swollen and sore, had a five-day beard. The dentist in his dull eyes saw many nights of despair. He closed the
drawer with his fingertips and said softly:
-Good day- said the mayor
-Good- said the dentist
While the instruments were boiling,
the Mayor leaned his skull on the headrest of the chair and felt better. His breath was icy. Was a poor office: an old wooden
chair, the pedal drill, and a glass case with ceramic bottles. Opposite the chair, a window with a cloth to the height of
a man. When he felt the dentist approach, the Mayor braced his heels and opened his mouth.
Don Aurelio Escovar turned his head
toward the light. After inspecting the infected tooth, adjusted his jaw with a cautious finger pressure.
-We need to do this without anesthetics-
-Because you have an infection
The mayor looked into his eyes
"Okay," he said, and tried to smile.
The dentist did not return. He led the bench with instruments pan and boiled out of the water with cold tweezers, still without
hurrying. Then he pushed the spittoon with the tip of the shoe and went to wash their hands in the washbasin. He did everything
without looking at the mayor. But the mayor did not lose sight of.
It was a lower wisdom tooth. The dentist
opened her legs and grasped the tooth with the hot forceps. The mayor grabbed the bars of the chair, full strength in the
feet and felt an icy void in his kidneys, but sighed. The dentist moved only his wrist. Without rancor, rather with a bitter
tenderness, he said:
-Here you are paying us for twenty
deaths you have caused
The Mayor felt the crunch of bones
in the jaw and his eyes filled with tears. But do not breathe until he felt the tooth come out. Then he saw through her tears.
It seemed so foreign to his pain, he could not understand his torture of the five previous nights. Bent over the spittoon,
sweating, panting, he unbuttoned his tunic and reached for the handkerchief in his pocket. The dentist gave him a clean cloth.
-Dry your tears- he said.
The Mayor did. He was trembling. While
the dentist was washing his hands, he saw the crumbling ceiling and a dusty spider web with spider's eggs and dead insects.
The dentist returned, drying her hands. "Lie down," he said and gargle with salt water. "The mayor stood up, said goodbye
with a casual military salute, and walked to the door, stretching his legs, without buttoning up his tunic.
-Send me the check- he said
-To you or the government?
The mayor didn’t look. He closed
the door, and said, outside of the red metal:
-It’s the same thing