This week I started reading Damnificados, by J.J. Amaworo Wilson, in which terrorists attack a Christmas party in a skyscraper and … No, wait, sorry, wrong story. The actual plot is that a group of “damnificados” — defined by the book blurb as “vagabonds and misfits” — takes over an abandoned building and basically turns it into a vertical city. If this reminds you of the Oakland Bay Bridge from William Gibson’s “Bridge” trilogy, then, uh, you may be me. Or you may be Elizabeth Hand.
The book starts off with a bang, quite literally:
The skyscraper was the third-tallest building in the city and from the highest floor you could look down on the backs of birds gliding on air. One muggy August afternoon Rolo Torres tried to parachute from the fiftieth floor. The chute stayed shut and he landed face first in a refuse pile.
“At least we don’t have to dig a hole to bury the dumb shit,” said the mayor.
That’s gonna leave a mark! On the refuse pile, apparently.
Like I mentioned, the blurb defines its damnificados as vagabonds and misfits, but I went in search of a more specific definition. Most of what I found simply defined it in English as “victim”, but I found some definitions in Spanish which―despite taking three years of the language in high school―I speak and understand it about as well as the Tick does high school French or Dennis the Vizsla spoke Spanish that time he got stuck in a telenovela. So I ran one of the definitions through Google Translate, and this is what it said the Spanish definition said about the term:
adjetivo/nombre masculino y femenino
[persona] Que ha sufrido un daño, en especial cuando es consecuencia de una desgracia colectiva.
“el seguro del edificio no cubre a los damnificados por el atentado; los beneficios de la velada servirán a la Cruz Roja para ayudar a los damnificados del conflicto bélico”
adjective / masculine and feminine noun
[person] Who has suffered harm, especially when it is the result of a collective misfortune.
“the insurance of the building does not cover the victims of the attack, the benefits of the evening will serve the Red Cross to help the victims of the war”
Hmm, that probably covers the misfits and vagabonds who would take over and move into a skyscraper, or the girders of a bridge, for that matter … Meanwhile, speaking of a collective misfortune, editing continues on Father’s Books! I’m almost positively certain that it will probably be finished this year. Maybe.
“Tony, what are you doing here?”
“What am I … you called me for backup, remember? Goober.”
“I didn’t mean for you to come yourself, I just wanted you to send the cops if―”
“Yeah, well, the cops weren’t interested in what I had to say, so here I am. Lucky break for me, since that’s how I met my new future wife.” Rose snorted. “See? She knows it’s true.”
“How many future wives does one guy need, Tony?”
“What kind of stupid question is that?”
But is Rose really a future ex-Mrs. Tony? Ahh, such a cliffhanger!