Translated from the Spanish by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert
Once a week the overseers ride on their victims. It's not always the same day; if it were, the cavalcade would lose the element of surprise which constitutes one of its major attractions. Consequently, the day is chosen at random, as are the mounts.
The exercise in equitation takes place on the stairway which leads from the first level of the prison to the second, in a upsloping direction. On the appointed day, the overseers burst by surprise into the cells of the prisoners, selecting those to be stampeded and bundling them in black hoods, so that they will have no cognizance of where they are taken, or of the casualties which occur during the ordeal.
It must be acknowledge that the spot selected for the contest is more than adequate: the stairwell, of cement, is gloomy and narrow, and the stops, spaced far apart, are sufficiently dilapidated to blindly aid in promotion the spillage of gore.
The winning rider obtains a trophy awarded by the captain, and the mount receives a lump of sugar as a prize.
English language translation ©2009 by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert
Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Christina Peri Rossi is a major Latin American "boom" writer of fiction and poetry. She was forced to leave Uruguay in 1972 to escape political repression by the military government, and went to Spain, where she worked as a journalist in Barcelona. Among her many works of fiction are Descripción de un naufragio (1975, Description of a Shipwreck), La tarde del dinosaurio (1976, The Afternoon of the Dinosaur), and La nave de los locos (1984, The Ship of Fools). Her Solitario de amor of 1988, a work that explores a lesbian relationship, was a scandal at the time of its publication.