Extract from Michael Mitchell's translation

Mercedes Deambrosis' An Afternoon with Rock Hudson

Dorita smiled, pretending to smooth down an errant lock of hair.

‘I must look awful!’ She stood up in a coquettish posture. ‘I'm going to powder my nose.’

He watched her go. Jorge wasn't going to come back. He'd seen what was on offer and gone to try his luck elsewhere. The die was cast.

‘He was so strong, so handsome, I loved him. I always thought that one day I would be the woman he would hold in his arms, the woman whose head would rest on his heart at dead of night, the woman whose face would lighten his darkness. How could I have married another?’ She raised her voice. ‘I ask you, Señor, I ask you. I am one of those women who are faithful. Faithfulness made woman! Despite all the years, all the years that have passed in vain, for me, for him, for both of us, I have always known, in my heart of hearts, in this poor heart of a loving woman, that he too was waiting, waiting for the other half of the orange.’

Dorita's silhouette had vanished between the draperies.

He continued to follow her progress beyond the burgundy velvet, which swayed slowly in the wake of her hips.

What was this bag lady drivelling on about? Paquirri instinctively shrank back slightly.

‘He's with me all the time,’ Carmen went on feverishly. ‘He never leaves me. Here! Look!’

As he looked on in disgust, she started to root round in her bag with spasmodic movements, taking out an old wallet, from which she extricated a newspaper cutting yellow with age, grubby from contact with her fingers, sodden from the saliva on her lips. She pressed it to her heart, closing her eyes tight, with an intensity that was almost painful. Then, slowly, like the bride making her way up the aisle, she placed the photo on the table, a photo of Rock Hudson, taken from the film A Farewell to Arms.