outwait outrun outwit


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How she survived I'll never know. They beat her like she was a slave. Like she was a dog. Let me pass over the actual violence and report instead on the damage inflicted: her clavicle, chicken-boned; her right humerus, a triple fracture (she would never again have much strength in that arm); five ribs, broken; left kidney, bruised; liver, bruised; right lung, collapsed; front teeth, blown out. About 167 points of damage in total and it was only sheer accident that these motherfuckers didn't eggshell her cranium, though her head did swell to elephant-man proportions. Was there time for a rape or two? I suspect there was, but we shall never know because it's not something she talked about. All that can be said is that it was the end of language, the end of hope. It was the sort of beating that breaks people breaks them utterly.

Throughout most of the car ride, and even into the first stanzas of that wilding, she maintained the fool's hope that her Gangster would save her, would appear out of the darkness with a gun and a reprieve. And when it became clear that no rescue was forthcoming, she fantasized, in the instance of a blackout, that he would visit her at the hospital and there they would be married, he in a suit, she in a body cast, but then that too was revealed to be plepla by the sickening crack of her humerus, and now all that remained was the agony and the foolishness. In a blackout she caught sight of him disappearing on that motorcycle again, felt the tightness in her chest as she screamed for him to wait, wait. Saw for a brief instant La Inca praying in her room - the silence that lay between them now, stronger than love - and in the gloaming of her dwindling strength there yawned a loneliness so total it as beyond death, a loneliness that obliterated all memory, the loneliness of a childhood where she'd not even had her own name. And it was into that loneliness that she was sliding, and it was here that she would dwell forever, alone, black, fea, scratching at the dust with a stick, pretending that the scribble was letters, words, names.

All hope was gone, but then, True Believers, like the Hand of the Ancestors themselves, a miracle. Just as our girl was set to disappear across that event horizon, just as the cold of obliteration was stealing up her legs, she found in herself one last reservoir of strength: her Cabral magis - and all she had to do was realize that once again she'd been tricked, once again she had been played, by the Gangster, by Santo Domingo, by her own dumb needs, to ignite it. Like Superman in Dark Knight Returns, who drained from an entire jungle the photonic energy he needed to survive Coldbringer, so did our Beli resolve out of her anger her own survival. In other words, her coraje saved her life.

Like a white light in her. Like a sun.

She came to in the ferocious moonlight. A broken girl, atop broken stalks of cane.

Pain everywhere but alive. Alive.


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