Ratoncito's Last Tooth
by Mike Hill
In all the world, Ratoncito Perez was the strongest man in his lifetime. He was born
into a sort of half life, neither youngest nor oldest in a large family, living in
poverty but not squalor in the no-man's land between city, suburbs and slums, and
so went mostly unnoticed. He was raised almost by default, getting enough to
survive but being given responsibility for the younger ones early in his life,
especially as it was realized that he had incredible strength.
By the time he was three years old, he was bending bars of steel, could break heavy
wooden planks and lift at least three times his own weight.
He never took advantage of his strength, but it was always "Cito, come and lift the
stove, por favor." It was an ancient thing of cast iron. He would tuck a couple of
fingers beneath and a hand on top to steady it and would hoist it up so his mama
could clean beneath it, and then he would return it gently to its place.
The next week his papa would say, "Cito, we have lost the key to this lock, can you
take it off?" and he would give it a poke and it would break.
By the time he was four years old, his only chore was to do those things that took a
stronger man than his father, who never said he was proud of his son. Sometimes
papa seemed to resent being displaced as the strongest.
His mother always told him that he was descended from Samson of the Bible, of
the Tribe of Dan, and made him promise that he would not become a drinker like
his father, and to always use his strength to help his family, being careful never to
After he turned six, he began to lose his great strength - somewhat to his relief -
and he was given more mundane duties around the house. But by the time he was
twelve he had all of his strength back three or four times over, and his father left,
never to return.