Magdalena Cervantes Gómez


A man stood outside the cantina in the small pueblo of La Higuera and lit a cigarette. He looked over at the dog that sat waiting at his side and blew out a puff of smoke.

“I heard dogs don’t see that good,” the man said. “That true?”

“Yes and no.”

The man sat down next to the dog. It was near midnight and the man was cold. He’d drunk two cervezas and a shot of tequila and he was cold. 

He looked over at the dog, “Well, which is it?” The man could hear the clink of glasses and bottles inside the cantina mingling with the men’s uproarious laughter. Some of them were sure to have toothpicks in their mouths which somehow never fell out. “Mi Gusto Es” was playing, and the usual “buey,” “carbón,” and “hijo de la chingada” were being thrown around, adding to the magic grittiness of the cantina.

“Well, what do you see?” The dog turned his head and looked at the curious man. The man looked back at him.

“If you want to know what I see, squint your eyes until your eyelashes are barely touching and look straight ahead, as far as you can.” The man did this. And he was able to see everything the dog saw. Everything.

He stayed silent for a moment. A long moment. In the cantina all was quiet too. Someone had just mentioned Don Lazaro who was buried two days ago in the pueblo’s colorful cemetery. The well-known ranchera continued playing. “Mi gusto es ¿y quién me lo quitará? Solamente Dios del cielo me lo quita, mi gusto es …” The men all seemed to be looking off into a distance, still clutching their cervezas as if it would save their souls. “Era buen hombre, el hijo de la chingada,” someone said. All the men agreed and the noise picked up again. Humorous, crude anecdotes of the recently departed were told quickly and loudly. And they were laughed at as noisily as possible as if to shake off the preceding silence. Or perhaps to shake off Death himself who had somehow made his way into the cantina.

Outside, the man had finished with his moment too. He slowly stood up and dropped his cigarette on the ground. He dug the heel of his boot into it. He could feel the dog’s eyes on him and he deliberately avoided looking at him. Without saying a word, not even a “buenas noches,” he walked away into the darkness. The dog’s owner came out of the cantina and watched him go.

“¿Quién era ese buey?”

“El hombre que buscabas”

For the rest of that night, the man thought about going back to the cantina and shooting the dog. By sunrise, he’d shot himself instead. The visions ceased.

There was silence in the cantina again. The same song was playing. “Aunque me den de balazos, topen eso, topen eso que al cabo mi gusto es …” The men clutched their cervezas, uncomfortably aware that Death had dropped in for the second time that week. They couldn’t stand Him; “Era buen hombre ¡Hijo de la chingada!” Loud voices and noisy laughter filled the cantina again. Cervezas and lime wedges made their way around, someone turned up the music, a few of the men let out gritos, and before he knew it, Death found himself standing outside. He looked over at his dog and motioned for him to follow. They walked away from the cantina into the darkness.


Magdalena Cervantes Gómez resides in Bellflower, California and is currently working towards her B.A. in Comparative Literature at the California State University of Long Beach. Her area of interest is in Latin American art and literature. She publishes both academic and creative writing; through her work, she brings to light unseen fragments of society, combining the real, imaginary, and invisible. Her work has appeared in Jacaranda, and she is currently working on a collection of short stories set in the rural villages of Mexico.

A Dog that Has Seen