Very Short Stories. Robert Roth

Kaqmantas brother Robertqa uchuy wentuchakunata waqtarmun /liyirqamuy / corazon contento / corazon llakikuq

Very Short Stories

Roberth Roth



A shoutout over a vast divide. When I go out the two things I need to do are wear a mask and sunglasses. My sunglasses would seriously fog up after a couple of blocks. If one had to go it was the sunglasses which significantly limited how long I could walk. I saw a disturbing photo of two anti-lockdown warriors in full regalia with rifles over their shoulders. One though was wearing sunglasses and a mask. I am more worrier than warrior. But still I studied that photo and figured out how I could wear both.

Since then, every time I step outside into the sun I think of him with gratitude.


Private Response. My friend George spoke very positively of the sexual rush he got when a male security guard at Ben Gurion Airport patted his whole body down as part of the security protocol. “You know why I have to do this,” the man said almost apologetically. George answered, “No, no it’s fine.” My friend Muriel spoke angrily about her breast being gruffly grabbed and squeezed at a different airport by a security guard, this time a woman. She spoke about the feelings of desire stirred up as well as her sense of being violated. She in addition thought there was something gratuitous in how it was done. Another friend wrote about having an orgasm while nursing her son. This was a difficult thing for her to write about. What she didn’t write about, and I felt I couldn’t ask her about, was whether that was something she anticipated or was hoping to happen the next time she nursed him.



The Atheist and the Priest.  I wished my super Michael a Happy Holiday. He answered that he wasn’t religious and that he was both a socialist and atheist and that he didn’t celebrate religious holidays.
It turns out his best friend was a Jesuit priest, a friend since childhood, who would come by his apartment every Sunday after mass  for dinner. They would have long endless discussions. Though they loved each other dearly, they disagreed  on almost everything including whether or not there was an afterlife.
When Michael died–to honor his request– the priest along with another of his friends illegally snuck onto a pier late at night to scatter his ashes into the Hudson River.
Now each time the priest drives by that pier, he looks towards the river and says, “Michael, you know better than me which one of  us was right.”




Intersectionality. Sometime in the 1960s I remember watching a transwoman (not sure how she was referred to then) on the David Susskind show. She was a recurrent guest, extremely high strung, frantic, frazzled, manic, always insistent on the validity of her reality. She was asked by Susskind with a kind of lascivious smirk frozen on his face what she thought about women libbers burning their bras. She answered, “Why should I want to burn my bra when I spent my whole life trying to get into one.”

She was there in the full integrity of who she was, separated from the powerful current of women rising in resistance and all the ways they too were being ridiculed, caricatured and dismissed.

The Case Worker. Robert Roth, con traduccion al espanol

El brother Robert Roth director de And Then, que acostumbra una prosa breve, irónica y con  un aguda observación de los juegos de poder en la vida cotidiana, comparte  un breve relato sobre un personaje burocrático donde el lector reconocerá no solo lo que sucede en  USA, sino también la  lacerante deshumanización de  los servicios sociales en el Perú. Desde hace tiempo he sentido que muchas de las observaciones  de Robert se podrían leer en el contexto peruano y que  traducir sus relatos o sus libros Health Proxy o Book of Pieces sería una gran cosa, acaso para saber que hay un horizonte as allá de las referencia acostumbradas a la literatura  norteamericana. Haciendo una tracción phawaychalla cumplo con el deseo que el brother Robert sea accesible al lector peruano. Chayqa aynichalla, ya que el brother Robert ha publicado varios textos en quechua en And Then e incluso termina una relato en nuestro querido idioma.

Respecto a las bancas…. ellas  recuerdan la vileza de los comerciantes de artesania de una galeria aledana a la municipalidad qeu han eliminado bancas publics, para que los vendedores Ashaninka no puedan ganarse la vida


The Case Worker

Robert Roth

George Theodore has the ability to make people who are in desperate need of help feel respected and appreciated. In his presence they almost always attempt to put their best foot forward and present themselves in such a way that he can accurately report that they
appear to be able to manage on their own. As a result their benefits get severely reduced or eliminated altogether. He would tell someone how young they looked so they would first feel flattered then too embarrassed to ask for senior travel vouchers. He prides
himself on this ability. It is nasty and effective. Something he has spent a long time perfecting.
George has ideas, fantasies on how to make a significant contribution to dismantling the spirit-deadening, freedom-killing structures of an over-tolerant society. He has long admired those hard-working, anonymous problem solvers who for example figured out
how to make benches in parks and public waiting areas impossible for homeless people to sleep on. He has recently come up with an idea—the Heroes Division– that will match that idea ten thousand times over.
The Heroes Division would be part of the Federal Government. It would service many different agencies. The idea is an exciting one. Each time someone does something heroic, let’s say saves a group of children from a burning building, their name will
immediately be put through a computer to see if they are delinquent on their taxes, have not paid parking tickets, are a fugitive from justice or most importantly are here illegally. The Heroes Division will scour local newspapers, regional tv shows, all the major news
outlets, social media and the internet. He is certain, since everyone has something to hide, and many people exist under the radar, what better chance to catch someone than when the spotlight is on them however briefly.The rewards for the department will be constant and its power will grow and grow. He dreams of being the person to head up
the Heroes Division. He has spent long hours thinking through the practical nitty gritty details for this to work. He does not know yet who to approach. He has to be careful. Ideas such as his are often stolen. And some high profile parasite will very likely try to present the idea as their own.


El Asistente Social

Robert Roth . Traduccion de Fredy Roncalla

George Theodore tiene la habilidad de hacer que la gente que está en una situación desesperada se sienta bien y tomada en cuenta. Frente suyo hacen lo posible para presentarse de la mejor forma, de tal modo que puede reportar que  son capaces de valerse por sí mismos. El resultado es que su beneficios sociales son reducidos o eliminados por completo. Es capas de decirle a alguien lo joven que se ve para que se sienta halagado y luego avergonzado de pedir algún servicio social. Es orgulloso de esta  cruel y efectiva habilidad.

George tiene algunas idea de como contribuir al desmantelamiento de las estructuras demasiado tolerantes de un sociedad  que entorpece  el espíritu y mata  la libertad. Por mucho tiempo ha admirado a los dedicados y anónimos  trabajadores de los parque públicos y los salones de espera que han ideado bancas en las que los desamparados  no puedan dormir. La idea es atractiva. Cada vez que alguien hace algo heroico, como salvar a un grupo de niños en un edificio en llamas, su nombre será inmediatamente puesto en una base de datos para ver si  si no ha pagado sus impuestos, no ha pagado sus tickets de transito, es fugitivo o, lo mas importante, está aquí como ilegal. La Secretaria de Héroes  peinara los diarios locales, los canales de televisión, todos los noticieros, y el internet. Está seguro que, dado que todo el mundo tiene algo que esconder y muchos viven con perfil bajo, esta es la mejor oportunidad para ponerles la lupa aunque sea por un momento. Los beneficios para secretaria serian constantes y su poder crecería. Suena con ser el jefe le la Secretaría de Héroes. Ha pasado incontables horas pensando en los detalles de como funcionaría todo esto. Pero no esta seguro cual es la estrategia correcta y tiene que ser cuidadoso. Estrategias como estas suelen ser robadas.  Y algún parasito de alto vuelo puede presentar la idea como suya.