The Man Who Loved Dogs

The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura

Book: The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura Read Free Book Online
Authors: Leonardo Padura
coffee, or sending the bullet through his head that, sooner or later, would take his life.
    But his concern over Liova’s departure was momentarily overshadowed by a little-known event that gave Lev Davidovich a bad premonition: the German elections, carried out on September 14, 1930, had turned Hitler’s National Socialist Party into the country’s second most popular. The leap had been to 6 million votes from 800,000 in 1928. Perplexed before the strange political irresponsibility of the German Communists, Lev Davidovich read that the Communists were celebrating their own increase from 3 million to 4.5 million votes, and declared that the Hitlerite upturn was the swan song of a petit bourgeois party condemned to failure. Several months earlier, in one of the letters with which he used to bombard the Soviet party’s Central Committee, he had already warned them about the dangerous establishment of National Socialism in Germany, which he saw as the bearer of an ideology capable of coalescing all of that “human dust” of a petit bourgeoisie crushed by the crisis and eager for revenge. Since then, he’d begun to insist on the need for a strategic alliance between Communists and Socialists to stop the process that could bring the Hitlerites to power. But the response to his premonitory cry of alarm had been the order from Moscow, channeled through the Comintern, that the German party should abstain from any alliance with Socialists and democrats.
    Never more than at that moment had Lev Davidovich felt the weight of his sentence. Shut away on an island lost in time, his ability to act was reduced to writing articles and to an organization of scattered followers, when in reality he should have been in the center of events that, he could feel it in his skin, involved the fate of the German working class, the European revolution, and perhaps of the Soviet Union itself. He knew that it was necessary to mobilize the consciousness of the German left, since it was still feasible to avoid the disaster being drawn over the sky of Berlin. Didn’t anyone notice that if his path wasn’t closed off, Hitler would come to power and the Communists would be his first victims? What was happening in Moscow? he asked himself. He sensed that something dark was brewing behind the Kremlin’s red walls. What he still could not imagine was that very soon he would hear, from the highest towers of the Muscovite fortress, the first howls of a macabre creature capable of terrorizing him.

    The dense air caressed the skin and the sparkling sea hardly emitted a lulling murmur. There, one could feel how the world, on magical days and moments, gives the deceptive impression of being an affable place, tailor-made to the dreams and strangest desires of man. Memory, imbued with that relaxed atmosphere, managed to become lost, and bitterness and sorrows fell into oblivion.
    Seated on the sand with my back leaning against the trunk of a casuarina tree, I lit a cigarette and closed my eyes. There was an hour to go until the sun went down, but, as was becoming a habit in my life, I was in no rush and had no expectations. I practically had none, and practically without the practically. The only thing that interested me at the time was enjoying the gift of twilight’s arrival, the fabulous moment at which the sun closes in on the silvery gulf and draws a fiery trail on the surface. In the month of March, with the beach practically deserted, the promise of that vision was the cause for sudden calm within me, the state of closeness to the balance that comforted me and still allowed me to think in the palpable existence of a small happiness tailor-made to my meager ambitions.
    Prepared to wait for the sunset in Santa María del Mar, I had taken out the book I was reading from my backpack. It was a volume of shortstories by Raymond Chandler, one of the writers at that time, and still today, to whom I was solidly devoted. Getting them from the most unimaginable

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