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Chansa the curse wore out

Órale, the word of this episode is chansa. It means chance, but in Caló the predominant nuance is that of “maybe” as in a 50/50% chance. We’re gonna use it in a story told by a northern raquetero about a tricky vato who, when accosted by a gang of robbers, cast a spell over them that let him get the better of the encounter.

The vato’d been walking for days through the plains. He had with him only a collar with a shiny metal pendant and a leather pouch half-full of smooth hand-sized rocks.

Although feeling quite exposed and lonely on the open plains, he took comfort in being able to see any trouble coming from a long distance. So far, he hadn’t seen anyone since the start of his journey.

Eventually, he came to the ridge of a narrow valley. A thin stream bordered by carrizo (tall grass) ran through the bottom. After hesitating a long moment, he descended at a fast pace.

“If there’s trouble, let it come and end fast,” he told himself.

When he got to the tall grass, somebody whistled. He looked around but didn’t see anybody. Then another whistle came from a different direction. With this, he took a deep breath.

“Hey, it’s me,” the vato said loudly.

He heard snickering. Then a tall thin man he’d never seen before stepped out of the reeds.

“Give me what’s around your neck,” he told the vato.

Before the vato could answer, he heard other men moving in his direction through the reeds.

The vato waited for everybody to appear.

“Here, but I’m supposed to wear it to let everybody know that I’m cursed,” the vato said, offering his collar and pendant to the stranger, who now refused it.

“What are you cursed of?” said one of the men.

“They say I cause people to turn into stones,” the vato responded.

“What’s in your bag?” one of the other men said.

“It’s people I’ve come across. Babosos, pendejos, mensos, sonsos, and tarugos. All round stones now. I couldn’t leave them alone, so I put’em in here,” the vato said opening his bag for them to see. The men looked at each other, irritated and incredulous.

“You think we’re pendejos?” the tall stranger groused.

“This rock here said that, too. And this round pebble was a baboso who, like you, didn’t believe me,” the vato said and pulled out two rocks.

“Have’em all. Chansa my curse wore out.”

“He’s lying,” one of the men said.

“Chansa he’s chalado,” said another.

“Take’em all, including this black stone. A mensote who walked with me for days and said curses are just crazy talk. I woke up one morning and he’s a little stone,” the vato said.

The would-be robbers looked at each other in silence.

“Hey, maybe you’re sonseando. Most of these stones are like that. Cursed people who simply passed by too close,” the vato said.

“Take my collar too. It’s tarugo to keep it cuz it doesn’t help anyway—no matter what I say,” the vato said.

The tall man gestured that it be handed instead to another man, who in turn did the same.

The men looked at the vato idly, unsure what to do next.

“Chansa the curse…,” the vato started to say, but the men receded into the reeds.

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.