Translation by Peter Imoro
The old man usually went hunting by himself; him and that dog which followed him everywhere ever since he showed up at the railings. The weather was no longer cold. Winter was just starting. It was early, eight or nine o’clock in the morning. The forest seemed like the quietest place in the world. The rifle weighed more than the last time. Now he began to take notice of the age issue. While sniffing around, the dog followed him discreetly. It was almost two years since he last went hunting.
There was hardly anything left there that was worth the trouble. He glimpsed a clearing in the distance. He decided to get down and let the dog have a drink while he took a glance. The river still had a lot of water but it was unlike the one he knew as a child. All had changed; now he was alone. He recalled his father fishing in that same river, close to home, and when he and his brother used to bathe and slide down with the stones. It was by this river that he won over Teresa and convinced her of his love while he raised her skirt. She resisted but that never bothered him, not before or after twenty years of marriage. Now she was dead and he was still there, hunting, with that dog, which was as old as he was.
A scream drew the attention of the dog. It went off running upwards, towards the forest. The old man picked up the rifle and climbed. When he was about to call out to the dog, he remembered that he did not know its name; that is if it had one. He whistled. He suddenly stopped, trying to hear something; he heard nothing. No sign. He continued walking. He thought he saw two boys running away. He heard their laughter and a whimper close by. He approached the place from which they seemed to be fleeing. His instinct told him that nothing good was happening there. Now, he could not hear anything, neither laughter nor a voice. The dog suddenly appeared between the bushes. Without knowing why, he was happy to see it. He hated that dog because it reminded him of him himself; it was ugly and skinny and each and every one of its ribs was showing. It was obvious that it had received more than one blow. The dog came to him waving its tail. It had something in the mouth. The old man bent down and took it; it was a piece of cloth with flowers and many colors. The dog barked proud of its discovery. Again, he heard crying close by. He gestured to make it stop barking and then he went towards the bushes from which the dog had come out. He saw a half naked girl, clumsily moving away, falling at each step. Her hair was disheveled and she was walking away aimlessly. The old man decided that it was time to go back home. It was twelve and he was hungry. He gestured to the dog, put his rifle on his left shoulder and walked away. The dog picked up the piece of cloth in its mouth and followed the old man.