Some people have already arrived to the meeting room, a little late as always. The landlady was there on time and she bemoaned the apparent absence of some tenants, but concluded that they could still come, and waits. Meanwhile she makes everyone sign an assistance list, and complains of having the flu.
After some time, when the relevant comments from the ladies, and the topics of the flu and weather are used up, they decide to start with the meeting, not without dwelling before, with a tone of reproach, on the absence of some and, let it be said, the presence of others.
They expediently choose as secretary the one called Lucy, who seems very diligent and gets ready to write the minutes. Without any delay they proceed with the reading of the order of business:
First: “Explanation of the case”
Second: “Consideration of the case”
Third: “Recommendations for the case”
“The reason why I called this meeting is the death of Benjamín, our doorman. Posters inviting to the meeting have been in the elevator for more than two weeks now, in a place where everybody can see them, and still Don Alberto and the people from 501 are not here. But the lady of the first floor, who has no need to get in the elevator, has come, so it’s not my fault if anyone didn’t show up.”
Several of those present nod vigorously.
“For those who don’t know, I have the sad duty to announce that Benjamin died, and although I guess the rumor already went around, I feel the duty of clarifying the situation, because I don’t think it’s good to be murmuring false stories and because there are people, who, at this point in time, seem not to know and insist on calling José, “Benjamin”.
“Regretfully, I have to talk about so tragic and painful events. Let us hope that such an incident never happens again in the condo. Every night when I pray, I ask God that something like this won’t repeat itself, and also that an earthquake won’t hit us. Remember that the common areas are not insured.
“On Saturday the 22nd of February a man went past on a motorcycle and shot Benjamin. Almost seconds later a Red Cross ambulance came, but when he got to the clinic it was too late.”
Among those present one can see faces of grief and shock. Some ladies cover their mouths with their hands.
“Benjamin had a twin brother. He never told us, nor did we ask him; none of us showed enough interest in Benjamín to ask him anything. He has come to replace him indefinitely. It is he who now holds the position.
Let us continue with the second point: Consideration of the case. We unanimously consider this case to be something very sad or am I wrong? Correct me if I’m wrong. But José deserves more consideration, he is the one who has to stand that everyone who comes in, everyone who goes out, calls him Benjamín: “Good morning Benjamín, thanks Benjamín, Benjamín here, Benjamín there, Benjamín come and go.
“I know it’s difficult to remember, but please have compassion for this man who has just lost his brother, don’t remind him about it. I know they are dead ringers, but for God’s sake his name is José! Just because he took the place of Benjamin, you don’t have the right to change his name to Benjamín, may he rest in peace (she crosses herself).
José doesn’t know the reason of this meeting. I didn’t want to invite him because Benjamín’s death is still very recent and I didn’t want him to open those water works again – a matter of simple precaution, you know.”
The tenants seem somewhat confused, there is something that’s not right in the story, and they try to find an explanation among them. A man gets up and says in a very sharp tone: “And who can guarantee that it was Benjamin who was killed and not his brother? Who knows how many times he could have replaced him at the door!.”
He sits down. There is a crushing silence, as if everyone hadn’t heard a thing.
“Is everything clear, then?” the landlady says. “So, we will continue with the order of business;
Recommendations for the case: I humbly recommend that you don’t call the man Benjamín, his name is José. And let every person who visits you know about it. It is not that Benjamín had a whim to change his name. Please communicate this to those who didn’t come tonight and explain the situation to the children. With them it’s difficult, I know, but you will find the manner to get through to them. And when you are going out, have the kindness to say: Good morning, José; thanks, José. For love of God, please remember. I put my trust in you. You have to know that Jose is tired and his resignation wouldn’t be good for us.
Being 8:45 PM on March the 5th, 2006, I conclude the meeting that handled the story of Benjamín and José.”