The Pearl, Continued
News of the great pearl that Kino had found and the terrible luck that it had brought him soon reached beyond La Paz. Fishermen in distant cities told the story of his pearl, of Coyotito’s murder, and of the way Kino and Juana never spoke of what had befallen them in the mountains.
Once the pearl was returned to the sea, Kino knew he would have to rebuild his life. Because he had no canoe, and no brush house, he and Juana simply slept upon the shore of the estuary, keeping warm with a fire made from driftwood and eating fish Kino caught with a line he collected from among the rocks. They spoke to no-one and no-one spoke to them; it was as if they were ghosts on the periphery of the town. It was considered bad luck to approach them, and even Juan Tomas stayed away.
Years passed in this way until the town’s memory of Kino’s misfortune was buried along with the citizens who’d known of it first-hand. He became a legend whom children fancied lived a very long time ago. The doctor choked to death on a fishbone and was mourned by no-one, not even his cat. The beggars on the church steps carried on begging for scraps. The town kept on breathing, and children kept on being born, and pearls kept on being bought and sold and the pearl fishermen knew that nothing could be done.
Eventually, Kino grew too old to wade into the sea, so to keep himself occupied while Juana went into the town, he sat and carved elaborate fishing nets out of carrots. In his dreams, each net held baby Coyotito before that fateful scorpion bite, giggling as Juana prepared corncakes. Then his son was replaced by a great pearl, glistening in the moonlight. Then the pearl was replaced by a skull, bleached clean by the sea and the sun. Then Kino woke up and carved another net, hoping each day to catch a different dream.