A Secret



A Secret



            Yes. I have a secret; a terrible secret; I did much harm a man. A man that I respected and I cared for a lot. I saw him as an exemplary father.

            Don P. could have become my father-in-law if he hadn't died so young: at age 56. I said 'could' because I am not sure L. would have finally agreed to marry me if he was alive; she would have been terrified to tell her father that she wanted to marry me; at that time she hadn't even told her family that we were dating.

            Don P. had very dark skin, but only on his face and hands; this was due to his frequent excursions to the mountain; with his backpack full of dried food and medicine. He was starting to get bald; his black eyes and his smile inspired confidence, because you could see he was frank. He was a devoted reader and thus, he was very knowledgeable. I sat with the family for dinner, cramped at a little round table, in their small kitchen, in S., so many times. On those occasions he would tell stories, invented or real, and the whole family and I listened silently. He was such a great storyteller! For example, one of his children would ask:

            “Could you tell us about your last trip to the mountain?”

And given this opportunity he would tell us his encounter with a puma. With only his walking cane as a weapon, he was lucky that the lion was not hungry, and left calmly.

Don P. would have been a doctor had his mother not died when he was in the last year before graduating: he was practically orphaned because his father had abandoned his home when Don P. was in high school.

Going to the country side he would find people in desperate need of a doctor and medicine; that’s why he would always carry medicine in his backpack.

            I talked with him about my projects for a story of my own. He would listen patiently, even though now I can see that my stories were too pretentious, heavily influenced by Kafka, and not very interesting.

            The main obstacle in the way of Lucia telling her family of our intentions was that Don P. was profoundly religious, and I was not only a declared atheist but an active and vocal one. So, in a way, Don P. was an obstacle for my happiness.

            One day, Don P. showed me his watch. “Look at this watch,” he said. “Do you think it could have been made by itself?”

I didn't respond because that was obviously a rhetorical question.

“How then, can you think that an organ as complex as the human eye could have been made by itself, and not created?”

I didn't reply to that either because I did not know the answer. Even if I had known the solution to that conundrum, I would not have dared to say anything; such was the degree of respect that he commanded from me. Of course Don P.’s argument is well known, as I learned much later.

            That problem kept me thinking for some time, until I got the answer. I remember that on that day I was talking with L. in the dining room; I didn't know that Don P. was lying sick in an adjacent room. I was explaining to Lucia.

            “I was thinking about the question of whether a watch was created or not: if could came or by chance, or if it has to be created.” I said.

            “Well,” she answered, “Do you think it could come out by chance? I don’t think so.”

            “Why?” I asked.

            “It’s too complex a machine to think that it could be coming out by chance.”

            “Yes, I get it, but, what about a stone? If you examine it closely, I’m pretty sure you will find it extreme complex. But, I agree, a watch is a different thing. So, what’s the difference? The reason the eyes appear to be created is because they seem to have a purpose, like any object created by a man (or woman); on the other hand, the supposed 'intent' of the eye is to provide eye sight. That is not an a priori design but a consequence of many adaptations, naturally selected.”

At that moment we heard a horrible, guttural cry coming from the adjacent room. It was a cry from Don P., because he had ruptured a stomach ulcer.

            I have never told anybody that the rupture of the ulcer was a consequence of my argument. A couple of days later I visited him in the hospital, and he greeted me.

“Hello Oscar.”

I took that greeting as a sign that he had forgiven me.

A few days later he died. And a few years later I married Lucia.



P. Oscar Cubillos


 P. Oscar Cubillos was born in Chile; he came to USA to get his Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Iowa, in 1976. Oscar has worked as a university professor, software engineer, and Math Teacher. Although Dr. Cubillos is new as published writer, he has been interested in literature, both as an avid reader, and as a newly published writer. Oscar’s other interests include classic music, chess, and history. His work has appeared in The Muse. 


Previous Post Next Post