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Wherever there is a duel I shall be on the side of the man who falls, hero or villain.

I am tied by the neck to the theory of slaves sculptured in the most ancient stele. I am the dying warrior beneath Hasurbanipal's chariot, the charred bone in the Dachau ovens.

Hector and Menelaus, France and Germany, and the two drunks breaking each other's noses in the tavern oppress me with their discord. Wherever I turn my eyes an immense tapestry with the face of Good getting the worst of it covers the world's landscape.

An involuntary spectator, I see the contenders start fighting and I don't want to be on anybody's side. Because I am both the one who strikes and the one who receives the blows. Man against man. Does anyone wish to take a bet? Ladies and gentlemen: There is no salvation. We are losing the match. The Devil is now playing with the white pieces.

Juan José Arreola
Translation by George D. Schade


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