Jan 03, 2022
6 mins read
Sunday. A busy day awaited them. The usual four masses would be celebrated on the esplanade at the entrance to the cemetery, and tourists would come in to take pictures of the tombs and tour the crypts, as if they understood their way around the place.
But today would be different. Mauritius had overheard one of the guards talking about the visit of a group of urban sketchers. Apparently they would arrive first thing in the morning and stay for about three hours.
Mauritius approached Carmen Barrera's grave, where Silvia and Hugo were resting.
- We are going to have overload today - He told them, moving gently around the two cats, with his feather duster tail raised.
Silvia barely lifted her head, emitted a choked whine by way of response to Mauritius' announcement, and settled back into the weak sunbeam. Hugo sat up, ready to receive the alert. He watched Mauritius' fluffy tail move away toward the niches. He was not to lose sight of it.
The sun was almost overhead when Mauritius felt as if a jolt of electricity entered from the tip of his tail and ran down his back. He stopped his round and stood alert, watching the tombstone of Augusto Lima. Apparently the boy had already gotten up and was particularly naughty today. Then he saw a line of girls and boys come through the door.
They were a curious group. They were dressed in contrasting colors and pointed patterns. A tall boy carrying a wooden box like a briefcase caught his attention; the rest were also carrying strange, smaller utensils.
They began to walk around the cemetery, each one in turn, with the same reverent attitude of the tourists. Some sat on the floor and took out papers, brushes and watercolors. Others stopped to read the names in the niches, and appreciated the years of decay of each body.
Hugo ran past them, toward Tata Mejia's grave. Silvia stood erect, near the monument to Ignacio Zaragoza. Her passivity of the morning had vanished, and her eyes showed tension with a touch of ferocity. Mauritius knew it was time to work, and headed toward the niches again, with a firm step and his feather duster held high.
The day was going on peacefully. The group of sketchers had settled down, having finally chosen something to draw, and everyone was concentrating on their techniques. One girl had taken a tangerine out of her bag and was eating it while observing the scenery; another was walking among her companions, greeting and engaging in small conversations with each one. It seemed as if they had not seen each other for a long time. There was occasional laughter, and new attempts to understand the mysteries of the bodies, but the atmosphere was stable.
Silvia and Hugo were again lying in the sun, and Mauritius had climbed to the top of Diego Baz's mausoleum. He liked to rest there. It was a small construction that resembled a gothic cathedral, so it had pinnacles from which the whole countryside could be appreciated. Besides, Diego was nice and very curious, so at any moment he would go out to see the event.
- You are late today, Diego, good morning - Mauritius said mockingly to the silhouette that had materialized next to him.
- Don't bother, Mauritius, it's Sunday. But what do we have here? - The man in the mausoleum opened his eyes wide, after having cleaned his steamed glasses. He glanced around the camp in surprise, his mouth slightly open. - I've never seen them just sitting around, they're always walking back and forth with their footsteps and taking pictures. But look at that! That boy is painting my house! -
A bearded boy, sitting on the floor in front of them, was carrying a good part of Diego's mausoleum on his canvas. He had outlined it with white lines and was now putting in blue and purple shadows. It was a magnificent job. The boy had left it on the ground for a moment, to let the watercolor base dry. Diego, curious as always, slowly crept up beside him, moving the tree twigs in his wake.
- This is too relaxing, I needed to be among the trees and with the noise of the wind - said the tangerine girl in the distance.
Diego stood in front of the bearded boy to observe the work better. His little steamy eyes solidified a little; in life, they would be glowing with delight.
- Hey, Lazaro, come take a look at this! - Diego shouted to his left, causing another gust of wind with his voice.
Silvia jumped to her feet and ran to the grave marked with the letters L.Z. However, Lazaro was already halfway there. If he liked anything in life (after death), it was to share Diego Baz's fascination with art. Silvia passed through Lazaro and stood in the middle of the path, confused for a few seconds. Lazaro took advantage of her daze to get to Diego's side.
- See this beauty, Lazaro, it's my house! Tell me if this young man has no talent. -
- What a superb job, dear Diego. See how he blended the shadows. It just comes to life. Maybe you should ask him to paint you, see if you come back - Lazaro guffawed after his comment. He was a being of simple joys, and any flash of happiness was enough to shake him so. At the same time that he laughed, he bent down even more to observe the work, and pushed the boy's hand, which ran the blue watercolor, still wet.
- Ah, fucking hell - the boy grunted, accepting that there wasn't much to do anymore.
- You two always get into trouble together. Lazaro, go with Silvia, please. - Mauritius reprimanded them, clearly annoyed, for the incident and for having to separate the pair of friends. He would deal with them later.
The paintings were gathered on the floor. The group was looking at them, congratulating each other, and celebrating the end of their event. Many had portrayed the tombstones. Carmen's name stood out in a notebook, accompanied by cemetery-style letters and numbers. Mauritius, Silvia and Hugo watched from a distance. The sketchers were arranging to have their picture taken, while a new group came in to replace them.
The cats looked at each other, with a tired but committed gesture, and retreated to their positions. Silvia stayed near the grave of Lazaro, who was already feeling calm. Mauritius went back around the niches. Hugo walked along the central path, wiggling slowly to assess the new group.
At the front of the sketchers, a boy with dreadlocks was bending down to take the photo.
- Can you get closer to each other? Not everyone fits -
Diego and Lazaro moved to their right, in the back row.
- You will not be in the picture, Augusto. Let me carry you.
- That joke went out of fashion more than 100 years ago, Lazaro - replied the boy Augusto, while rising a few centimeters above the ground.