The new story of Marcelo Birmajer: Prisoners of the air

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Abel boarded the plane without checking his bags. I was running away from a pain of love. Her things had been left in the house that now belonged to Analía. She didn’t want him anymore. Exactly that phrase she had used, with a pathetic addition:

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-There is nothing wrong with you anymore.

I wish it had stayed in the “I don’t love you”. But one could only write the script of one’s own miseries: The convictions of others were unmanageable and unimaginable. Abel was trying to escape by plane from the echo of that vanquished passion.

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The passengers took their seats, while he kept his eyes fixed on a blind spot, deep in thought. But he managed to spot an anomaly: two police officers were watching a handcuffed detainee on a diagonal seat. It was Canedes, the serial killer.

Abel immediately looked away from that monster. He knew perfectly well, like almost all Argentines, his crimes: he had killed at close range until he was captured. Already in prison he had received hundreds of letters from women proposing marriage to him. One of them helped him escape. Months later, he killed her. Recaptured, he was taken to a maximum security prison in Trelew.

Abel was returning to his parents’ house, lost in the field, from which perhaps he should never have left. His parents were no longer alive. The sheep and the earth remained, the names of the good; While to one place, evil has travelled.

Abel wondered why no one had killed this assassin. In prison, on the run, or when he’s caught again. He thought of the victims, all women, and wanted to kill him with his bare hands. He couldn’t conceive of any other form of pain than turning it away, freeing future victims from his threat.

Analía had harassed Abel during the covid pandemic: she criticized him for going out for a walk and not wearing a mask.

“But there’s no one within a hundred kilometers,” Abel replied.

“It’s part of our social consensus,” Analía declaimed.

Abel didn’t understand her, but she didn’t know what she meant either. He had heard it on television. However, he loved her with all his heart.

Analía had begun collaborating with an industrialist: a leak of toxic substances in one of his factories suffocated seventy people, including workers and passers-by. Abel compared the paradox of going for a walk without a mask and the factory accident. What would Analía say to her new boyfriend? The last time, after the disaster, she had seen them arm in arm, lovebirds.

He leaned his head against the window and closed his eyes. Without the slightest hope of sleep, she wanted to at least rest for a moment Why were civilian passengers forced to share a ride with a serial killer? They should let you know when you sell the ticket; at least before boarding. They had already been airborne for forty minutes.

The ship lurched in the air. An unexpected and fierce storm arose. Lightning struck the nose of the plane. Abel was surprised to find their fearlessness: they were falling, in the middle of the darkness. The passengers screamed desperately. He managed to take a look at Canedes: impassive.

It was daylight when Abel opened his eyes. The calm of the morning contrasted with the gruesome sight that surrounded him. Men and women lay dead, some dismembered, some strangely whole, as if nothing had happened to them. There was blood, loose shoes and remnants of clothing. Things that had belonged to human beings.

It was a coven. Dejected bodies, ruined remains, tragically grotesque expressions.

Sitting upright, handcuffed and alive, Canedes regarded the two dead policemen with a mixture of contempt and irony. With his puppet eyes, he fought for some object to free itself from the chain.

Abel found it. A metal cylinder, compact and massive. Part of what was known as the “fuselage”? Or the turbines. Or something similar to the black box. The aircraft had been split in two: front and rear, intact; separated by an unlikely gap.

Abel made a long circle to avoid being seen by Canedes. With all his will he unloaded the metal cylinder against the criminal’s neck. I never imagined I’d have such strength. He had been surprised by her fearlessness during the plane crash, and now by her ability to kill.

Canedes’ neck made a sound like a breaking branch, as Abel himself built a fire and split the dry wood in half. He finished off the killer’s head until it was nothing but a mess.

Abel looked up. If he had survived this shipwreck, no one could accuse him. Canedes would be one of the dead in the accident. At three feet, there were even worse scenes. He felt unexpected relief, even though he might never get out of there. But suddenly a voice baffled him:

– You killed a man.

It was Analia.

Abel looked at her in disbelief.

“You haven’t even seen me,” she explained. I embarked with Agustín.

Agostino was the industrialist. Abel didn’t want to ask, but he didn’t think Agustín had survived either.

“I’ll have to report you,” Analía declared.

Abel has not found the words, nor the spirit, to argue.

Analía had kept her cell phone intact. He had managed to communicate with the authorities. Abel first heard the noise and then saw the blades of the police helicopter.

Source: Clarin

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