Illustrations: Fabián Muñoz
While Dr. Mario Luján and Torralba was fulfilling his social service in the mountains of Holguín, he was confronted with a case of Priapism, in which the patient, a sexagenarian whose penis had been erect for over thirty hours, was brought to him on a stretcher. After observing the discolored thrombosis, he decided to amputate.
Two months later, they brought him another patient with identical pathology from the same mountain range. He was able to extract blood and the man returned to Upper Cuchuflí on his own means.
Sometime later, when Mayito was brought a third case of Priapism on an improvised stretcher and from afar he recognized the same men that had carried Jacinto, alarmed he asked them:
—Do you come from Cuchuflí?
—Another one? What do you people do up there, buddy
The patient’s name was Manolo. He was in his forties, a light mulatto, like Mayito, but with straight hair and Indian features. He arrived speechless with fright. He also seemed very ashamed. He stood with his gaze fixed on the floor as if he was guilty of a despicable act. He did not dare look at the doctor, and when Mayito began to palpate him, he turned pale and closed his eyes so as not to be a witness to such dishonorable fondling among men.
The doctor confirmed that it was a drainable erection.
—No problem –he calmed him—. We will make this well.
When he heard this, the man got off the stretcher in one leap.
—Are you going to cut it off? –he asked, practically in tears, as he covered the enormous bulge with his hat.
Convinced of his fatal destiny, he began to stutter and say that if they hacked him like Jacinto, he would hang himself from the first tree.
Luján calmed him down and explained to him that his case did not require amputation. And since Manolo’s tool was of colossal dimension, he began to pat him on the back and joke about the king size, XXL, twenty-four extra-long projecting cornice, and that in order to cut it he would need a saw; until the poor man began to laugh and allowed him to drain it.
Minutes later, Manolo raised his head and closed his eyes while Mayito rubbed his macrocephalous gland and later the entire penis, with a white liquid. Once drained, he felt immediate relief and his spirits improved.
Interested in investigating the origins of this strange Priapism, which appeared to be exclusive to Cuchuflí, the doctor began probe the patient and thus found out that, over the years, many cases of this ailment had surfaced in the vicinity of Pico del Cristal.
Along the route pointed out to him as leading to the mysterious mountain hamlet, he recalled the farm belonging to Heliodoro, a veteran of the War in Angola in his fifties, who every day swigged down two bottles of home-made brew.
He had met him when his wife, a twenty-year-old peasant girl with whom he had hitched a short time before, spilled on her instep a pot of boiling lard. Mayito, unable to relieve with drugs the pain of such a severe burn, had calmed her through hypnosis.
This gained him a lot of prestige with the farmer, who a short time later came for him with a mule on a rope, to invite him to a roast pig dinner. There he learned that Heliodoro, like every other highlander in the area, ate nothing but pork, rice, beans and yucca with garlic sauce. And the only green vegetable that entered his mouth was the avocado, abundant in his farm.
When his wife suffered the accident, Mayito observed that his face was very red and convinced him to allow the doctor to take his blood pressure. He had 180 over 120. Sometime later the doctor confirmed that the majority of highlanders over fifty suffered from extremely high blood pressure. And when he tried to convince Heliodoro to cut down on salt and fat, the man broke into a laugh:
––No, doctor, no way ––as he gulped down a drink from the bottle––. The day that it’s my turn to go, then I’ll go and that’s it. But while I’m alive, I want to have a good time.
And that morning when he arrived at the Heliodoro Hidalgo’s hut to ask him for a sure route to Cuchuflí, his youngest daughter informed him that the previous day he had left with a mule train to sell his coffee in Nicaro. But she would be happy to see to his needs. Mayito realized that the girl was flirting, but because he was in a hurry and he feared that the father would hack him with a machete if he found out, he opted to go on his way.
It was almost nightfall when he finally arrived at the hamlet. Mayito kept thinking about the enthralling mystery of the stiff pricks of Upper Cuchuflí.
What the hell were these people doing?
In these hills he would eventually find the origin of this unusual and recurring ailment among a handful of peasants. It could be a foodstuff, a drink, a spider bite, the sting of an aphrodisiacal scorpion; having contact with the pollen of some Cuchiflí flower, ignored by the world’s taxonomy; or some form of vernacular witchcraft.
Something had to be the cause of that Parapitosis. Whatever it was, Doctor Mario Luján and Torralba was intent upon discovering the secret of that region, and thus surprised many a bureaucrat of the Ministry of Public Health with the request for an extension of his social service.
If he had any luck, he would cover himself with glory as the discoverer of the Cuban Viagra