Havana Red

Havana Red by Leonardo Padura

Book: Havana Red by Leonardo Padura Read Free Book Online
Authors: Leonardo Padura
brother and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart. And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter and said unto Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, one for Moses and another for Elias. While he yet spake, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud which said, This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said: Arise, be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.
    â€œAnd as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.
    â€œThis is chapter seventeen according to St Matthew. Mark and Luke also relate the Transfiguration, and, listen to this interesting detail, Mark saw it thus: ‘And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.’
    â€œConde, you know, the scholars say that this happened on Mount Tabor, some forty miles from Caesarea. It’s a strange mountain, because it stands a thousand feet above the plain of Esdrelon, and reigns
in solitude, as if it had sprung from the ground or fallen from heaven. On the mountain meseta the Byzantines raised a basilica with two chapels that the Crusaders rebuilt several centuries later and entrusted to the Benedictines. After the Crusades, the Muslims transformed it into a fortress in the year 1212. The latest news I have is that the present basilica was consecrated in 1924 and has a central façade flanked by two towers.
    â€œBut what is important in all this is that it was on Mount Tabor that Jesus’s divine character was publicly revealed for the first time, that he was recognized by his father and introduced as the Messiah. Hence the disciples saw the appearance of Jesus, who must have been really dirty after such a long journey over the sea and desert, profoundly transformed: his clothes, skin and hair shone, but in reality everything was the result of an inner brilliance necessary to receive the revelation from his father. It is then the greatness of Jesus is made manifest: being who he is, introduced as a divine being, he doesn’t lose his humanity and understands the fear of his followers, who have witnessed something that transcends them infinitely. And do you know why? Because I think Jesus predicted his own fear when he talks to them about how his work will be carried through: his glory will be in a resurrection, but first he must endure the suffering and sacrifice which await him on the cross, that was the necessary test for this greater miracle to take place. Beautiful and heartrending, don’t you think? And if He was afraid and understood what fear is, why should we deny ourselves such a human sentiment? Perhaps the most human of all, Conde.”

    Quite the contrary, thought the Count, already set on forgetting biblical transfigurations too remote from sordid, earthly transvesting, as he took another look at Faustino Arayán’s house and compared it to the dark, damp cavern inhabited by Alberto Marqués, whence the transvestite Alexis had emerged on his last night-time excursion. An unbridgeable, impossible abyss existed between those two vital spaces, of established strata, self-interest, merits forgotten and recognized, favours lost and opportunities grasped or not, which distinguished them and set them apart, like light and shadow, poverty and opulence, sorrow and happiness. Nevertheless, in life and death, Alexis Arayán had fused the extremes of his origins and destiny, and created an unlikely link.
    From the moment his car turned into Seventh Avenue in

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