Episode 21

Armando is in his bathroom at home, looking at the bruises left by the blows from Calderón and the bite mark given to him by the witch, skinny Andrea… He is putting on a [i think] white bathrobe and has a look on his face like he can’t believe the kind of mess he’s gotten himself into… Betty arrives to tend his wounds and starts to ask him why he wasn’t hit anywhere else on his body. Armando tells her that the attack made Waterloo seem like child’s play, and that it wasn’t like “The Cage of Crazy Women” [Beth: ?? i’m guessing it’s a movie or TV show title - but i don’t know what it’s referring to. however, the thought occurs that it might be significant -a kind of Freudian slip- that he selected a title that uses the feminine when referring to the word “crazies,” and not the more common masculine. or maybe i’m just reading too much into it…], that it was something serious. Between kisses and caresses, while Betty is tending to him, she finds the bite mark and asks him how he came to get it. Armando, who has been discoursing on how everyone defended himself during the ‘attack,’ tells her that one of the gang grabbed him, and while Armando hit him [Merci: ha, ha], the guy grabbed him by the neck and bit him as if he [the guy] were a Rottweiler. Betty remarks that he sounds like an extremely impassioned thief, so Armando tells Betty that he has to get dressed to go to the police station. She offers to accompany him but of course he doesn’t want her to.At Ecomoda, Aura María is tending to Freddy while the Cartel and Natasha listen to him talk about the monstrous fight that took place the night before. And he says he was like a lion. Sandra asks him how this could be since he seemed to be the least bruised of all. It must be because he ran away, Sofía says. Freddy states that he didn’t run away - he used his best weapon: a verbal attack. He told the thieves they would die from being bad. Sofía opines that he must’ve barked at them [Beth: there appears to be another of Gaitán’s subtle plays on words going on here. one word for “thief” -the one seemingly used by Freddy just now- is “ladrón,” while the word for “to bark” (like what dogs do) is “ladrar”…]! Freddy says he struck them a humiliating blow, telling them 40 million Colombians suffer at the hands of 40 thousand thieves. That they’re a bunch of miserable, lazy, slugs - and they were dumbstruck! paralyzed! Inesita asks Freddy who hit him in the face and Freddy replies it was a deaf [??], dark guy named Germán, who left him “groggy” [he uses the English word] and made him lose control… Bertha observes that he not only lost control, he lost his clothes, his money… The women all laugh. Freddy states he has to go to the police station to make a statement and Aura María wants to go with him. Freddy says he’ll go with her even to the altar, but not to the police station…

Gabriela goes into Kenneth’s office and asks how he’s feeling. He replies he’s fine, that it was just foolishness… Gabriela tells him it was a robbery. Kenneth answers that he is a Marine, he’s in the US Army Reserve [Merci: this story is starting to sound a bit like Patricia Fernández’s ever-popular tale of the six semesters of finances at San Marino…], and his fists are lethal weapons. But they -and he nearly uses the feminine form of the word- had guns [Beth: note to non-Spanish speakers - unlike English, Spanish has no gender-neutral form of words like “we” and “they;” the masculine form of any noun or pronoun is invariably used unless the group being referred to is exclusively female. in other words, if you have a group comprised of 1,000 women and one man, the word used for “they” would be “ellos” (masculine) and not “ellas” (feminine). the same goes if you have a litter of kittens or a flock of birds, etc - as long as there is at least one male present, the masculine is used. however, the Six Stooges’ thieves were all women, so they would correctly be referred to collectively as “ellas,” a potentially fatal mistake which Kenneth just barely stops himself from making in front of Gabriela - she would certainly have noticed it, as would Betty or any of the other women]. He says that since they handcuffed Gutiérrez, he felt responsible and obliged to restrain himself, but he doesn’t want to talk about it any more. And he announces that he, too, has to go to the police station. Gabriela tells him she’s going to go with him - the documents that identify him as an associate of Ecomoda -as well as his passport- are in the hands of thieves, and she doesn’t want to have to tell the home office about this so he’ll have to obey her: She’s going with him and that’s that.

Mario, Armando, and Nicolás are at the police station. Nicolás is worried that his friendship with Betty is being endangered by this mess and the lies. He asks Armando about Betty and Armando replies that he can’t lie the way he used to [i.e., convincingly] and she can’t understand how ten armed men didn’t end up killing the six of them. Freddy arrives with Aura María and asks about Kenneth and Gutiérrez. Armando bawls him out for having brought Aura María and tells him it’ll be all his [Freddy’s] fault if the rest of the women find out what really happened. As he’s saying this, Kenneth and Gabriela arrive. Armando orders Freddy to stand so that Kenneth can have a seat. And to round out the group, Marujita and Gutiérrez arrive… Maruja is asking Gutiérrez how it was that he was the only one to be handcuffed. He tells her -and his buddies all chime in to support him- that he had been really rebellious against the attackers and that’s why they handcuffed him. So then Maruja wants to know how they got his clothing off since he was handcuffed. Gutiérrez says they ripped it off him… Armando says yes, they stripped him after they’d handcuffed him. Maruja wants to know who’s going to take their statements and they explain that it will be the judge’s secretary. Maruja invites Aura María and Gabriela to go with her to the ladies’ room. Armando asks Gutiérrez why he brought his wife along, and Gutiérrez explains that she brought him. Nicolás says that his mother told him they [the Ecomoda women] are all convinced that this has something to do with women. Kenneth says that now Gabriela is going to become his shadow. Armando says they all have to stick to the same story, and only one of them should speak [to give the statement]. Calderón wants to be the spokesman for the group but Armando tells him [no] because since he [Calderón] isn’t married, he’s got nothing to lose. Calderón replies that since he’s single, he can coldly tell an out-and-out lie. Maruja and company return from the ladies’ room and she continues with the “little wooden knife” [Beth: ?? ok, your guess here is as good as mine. i’m guessing it’s a way of saying that Maruja is continuing to harp on the subject of Gutiérrez / handcuffs / the attack / whatever]… The office door opens and they are called in to make their statement. Maruja, Aura María and Gabriela go in with the guys… Before entering, Armando quietly reminds Mario that “there were ten men… ten men, Calderón.”

The Ecomoda elevator doors open and Aura María, Gabriela, and the Merry Men get off. Aura María sees that her friends aren’t there and heads off to look for them. Gabriela tells Kenneth she’s going to her office. Armando tells the rest of the men that they are on the verge of getting out of this problem so they can’t drop the ball now. They have to be very discreet. Kenneth says that no-one can ever find out they were assaulted by a bunch of women… Well, unnoticed by any of the Stooges, Gabriela had returned and overheard everything. Armando states that even if they’re being fried in oil, none of them can say anything. Then he turns around and sees Gabriela… She tries to dissimulate [as if she’d just arrived and hadn’t heard anything], and tells Kenneth she needs to speak with him. The Stooges huddle together again and tell each other they know Gabriela must’ve heard everything. The group’s spokesman, Armando, asks to speak with Gabriela for a moment. He asks her if she heard and she tells him yes, but not to worry about her saying anything. He pleads with her to not say anything. She points out that she’d just promised she wouldn’t say anything. Then Armando more or less tells her the truth - that it was Calderón who brought the women to their table, that afterwards they’d gone with the women to a house where the women had ended up assaulting them. Gabriela asks if the women were very beautiful. Armando has to admit they were… Gabriela then asks what he’d thought the women were going to do to them. She makes a gesture as if her lips are sealed with regard to the matter…

It’s nighttime at Ecomoda. The elevator doors open and Freddy gets off, ready to head for home on his motorbike, the two helmets he’s carrying indicating he intends to give Aura María a ride as well. He tells her she is his life, his Moorish queen [Beth: “Moorish queen??"], and that her carriage awaits - would she like to be taken home or to some other place? She tells him she wants to go home. Freddy wants to know if she isn’t at least a little bit moved by the whole assault thing… Aura María comments that there’s still something [about the story] that bugs her. She asks what the ringleader of the thieves looked like. Freddy replies that it was night, and there was a fog worse than the ones in London (although he’s never been there). Then he states that the guy was tall, dark, well-built, and handsome - is she happy now? As the elevator doors are closing, Freddy laughs at Sandra that she’ll have to go home on the bus…Armando and Betty are in bed and she asks him what the gang’s ringleader looked like [Merci: it’s as if there were a patron of questions, isn’t it?]. Armando says he was fat, blond, with curly hair. She asks if he was the one who bit Armando. Armando clarifies that he was the one who ordered Armando be bitten… and it was horrible!! The poor guy says he’s traumatized and doesn’t know how he’s going to be able to sleep… He asks Betty to go to sleep and he will try, saying My God!

It’s morning… Maruja and Aura María are in the conference room with the television on, watching the news [Beth: ok, not that i mind, because she seems to be a character worthy of watching, but why exactly is Maruja at Ecomoda? she doesn’t work there, and in all the time we’ve known Gutiérrez, this is the first time she has ever turned up at the office that i am aware of. furthermore, there’s really no reason for her to be there today. yesterday, when the guys had to go make a statement, maybe. but now??]. Betty comes in and asks what’s so important that they need to speak now. Maruja asks Betty if she’d asked Armando about the ringleader of the gang of thieves. Betty tells the other two women what Armando told her. Aura María recounts Freddy’s quite different description, while Maruja says that Gutiérrez had told her the guy was short, stocky, and ugly. The women conclude they have been lied to! [Beth: again, not to mess with what looks to be an amusing plot line, but i do feel it necessary to highlight a rather glaring omission here: the Colombian police cannot be this completely stupid!! any idiot knows you have to get a description of the suspects if you are to have any hope of finding them, and you can’t tell me the police didn’t ask the Stooges for a description of the thieves!! given that the Stooges were (somewhat inexplicably, to my way of thinking) permitted to give a group statement -it is far more logical to interview each Stooge separately and then compare their stories for clues and/or discrepancies- one would think that all of the Stooges would’ve heard Mario’s description of the hypothetical ringleader. since i cannot believe the police would make this sort of amateur error, i am forced to believe that none of the Stooges -or the women who accompanied them to the police station- paid the slightest attention to Mario when he was giving their statement to the police. that, at least, is far more believable. ok, i’m done ranting. for now…].

In Armando’s office, he’s telling the other Stooges that they’ve all fallen into a trap. Gutiérrez is sure that Gabriela broke her word and told the other women what she knows. Armando states that she’s not like that - she’d sworn to him she wouldn’t say anything. Freddy points out that Betty, Aura María and Maruja are holed up in the conference room. Armando tells his fellow Stooges not to worry, they’re only comparing notes… [Beth: oh, Armando - did you let Marcela take what few brain cells you have left with her when she left, or what??]. Gutiérrez moans that he is going to have to go live in Bangladesh. Armando tells him to stop acting like a mouse. Mario reminds them that all they have to do is each stick to his own version of the story. Armando says all they’ve done is make things worse and they’re going to be found out. Mario says not to worry - with ten thieves to chose from, all they have to say is they each thought a different guy was the ringleader… They all conclude that the women don’t have any proof to the contrary. Armando insists, however, that they’re not being convincing enough. Mario tells him to calm down, that the women want to hear things that will allay their worries. Armando says that this whole thing is going to turn his marriage into a hell… and Mario goes over the limit by saying that ALL marriages are a hell anyway. Armando lunges at Mario and shouts that HIS ISN’T!! Freddy starts whining again and Armando shouts at him to stop talking like a girl… Gutiérrez states that no-one has to twist his arm, and they all put their hands together in the middle like the Three Musketeers [Merci: well, in this case, Six Musketeers]. Armando is the last to put his hand in… Sandra opens the door and announces that a lieutenant from the police is looking for them. The officer enters and introduces himself as Lieutenant Acevedo from Automotive Crimes. He tells them their automobiles, documents, and cel phones, etc have been recovered. Oh, joy! Armando only wants to know if they’ve also recovered his wedding ring [Merci: he continues to be divine - i’m sorry!]. Believing that everything is now resolved, Armando says they are going to celebrate the happy outcome with some whiskeys. A great ruckus ensues and the lieutenant tries to call things back to order by announcing that he, at least, cannot drink as he is on the job… This makes everyone quiet down, except for Freddy who is commenting to Freddy [yes, i know what that says, but that’s what Merci wrote!! based on the text, however, i’m going to guess that it was Kenneth commenting to Freddy or vice-versa…] that all the police in Colombia are really small! [Merci: one could say Acevedo isn’t very tall]. Then Acevedo tells the Stooges they have to go to identify some women who were arrested at the building where the cars and other missing items were found. Freddy, suddenly all nervous, shows Acevedo Armando and Betty’s wedding picture; Armando tells Freddy to ‘Shut up, idiot!’

In the conference room, Betty, Maruja, and Aura María are watching the news as a reporter talks about a gang of women who select their victims -executive men- and assault them, and the victims don’t dare say anything.

[After Acevedo has left,] Kenneth states there’s no way they can identify the women who assaulted them to the police. Armando wants to tell the truth! Gutiérrez reminds him they made a pact, as does Mario. Gutiérrez thinks that since the officer is a man, they can tell him the truth and he will help them. Just then the phone rings and Armando answers. It’s his “girlfriend” of the neck bite, Andrea. She’s calling to warn him to not even think about identifying those of her friends who were arrested because if he should do so, she will tell Betty all about everything that happened -and more! She’s going to make Betty think a porno flick looks like something Walt Disney produced by comparison to what she’s going to say Armando and his buddies did with her and her friends. Nicolás says if his mother finds out he lied to her, she’ll never cook for him again for the rest of his life. Kenneth states that his dignity is at stake… Gutiérrez prefers to just give them his car rather than have his wife find out…

Back in the conference room, Maruja is convinced that the women the reporter talked about on television were the ones that attacked the Ecomoda Six. Betty tells her she’s going overboard… Just then the door opens and Armando greets Betty, saying ‘Hello, my love.’ He tells her how happy he and the guys are that their things were recovered, in particular his wedding ring. And he says that he and the guys are all going to the station to get their things back. Armando leaves and Maruja remarks, ‘What a coincidence…’

We see the boys in front of a glass window acting as if they don’t recognize the women from the assault… Armando wants to assure himself that THEY [the women] cannot see THEM [the Stooges]. The lieutenant insists that it’s very important the guys tell the truth, saying that if the women haven’t been identified as the thieves by 5pm the police will have to let the women go. And if by any chance the Stooges have lied to him and he should find out, they [the Stooges] can be accused of complicity and making false statements to cover up a crime, and could end up in jail.

At Ecomoda, Maruja tells Betty and Aura María that the modus operandi of the women who were arrested is very suspicious. Aura María says that of course, the women seduced the men. Maruja thinks it’s more likely the guys were the seducers, not the seduced. Betty states these are just theories, they don’t have anything concrete to base them on. Maruja asks to use the phone and she calls the officer in charge of the Stooges’ case, to ask him what happened.

Back in his office again, Armando says that his only recourse is to enter the Witness Protection Program. Nicolás says he cannot permit the women to call his mother and tell on him… Gutiérrez wants to know who will protect him from Marujita. Armando is worried because he doesn’t want to commit a crime by lying to the police. Gutiérrez asks them for “esilence, pliz” [‘silence, please’ - in his mangled English!]. Armando still wants to do the right thing and says that [what they’re doing] doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t seem honest. Mario tells him not to worry, he’s already gotten back his wedding ring [and he makes a gesture like Armando wears the ring in his nose!]. The rest of the boys decide to leave Armando alone so he can reflect and decide how to proceed. Betty enters and he asks her what she’s doing there [Merci: we have to give Armando some demerits for his lack of subtlety]… Betty replies that she’s his wife, but if he prefers, then [her reason for being there] can be because she’s President of Ecomoda. She asks if he was in a meeting, since she saw everyone coming out of Armando’s office. He replies that they were just celebrating getting their stuff back… And then the phone rings. Armando picks up, saying “Armando Mendoza.” It’s Andrea, calling to thank him for not identifying her friends to the police, tell him how much she ‘likes silence,’ and how if he and his friends continue to behave themselves as they have been, he won’t ever have to hear from her again; she hangs up, laughing. Betty asks who called and he tells her he ‘lost’ the call… Betty gives him a blank look and leaves Armando’s office. He takes off his glasses and gets a desperate look on his face - and without his even saying so, we can just imagine he’s thinking: ‘What a cross, my God! what a cross!!’

The Six Stooges are in the conference room with Gabriela. They have put it to a vote and all [the Stooges] except Armando are agreed to continue with the farce of not being able to identify the women who assaulted them. Armando doesn’t want his daughter to have to visit him in jail on Sundays. Gabriela laughs at the lot of them. Calderón tells them nothing’s going to happen to them, [and even if something does], all they’ll need is a good lawyer. Gutiérrez insists that Gabriela has to promise them she won’t say anything. She is fed up with them constantly harping on this subject and reminds them she already promised Armando. Mario tells her she has to swear in front of all of them, and he makes her put her hand on an Ecomoda folder and swear… Mario insists that it has to be word of a man. She finally agrees and says her masculine side promises… [Merci: Male chauvinist pigs!]. Mario welcomes her to the gang - now she’s one of them. He tries to hug her but she won’t let him.

As she leaves the conference room, Gabriela bumps into Betty (literally). Aura María tells Betty that the lieutenant from the police is calling her with information on the case. Betty asks Gabriela to accompany her and Aura María to hear what the lieutenant has to say… In her office, Betty puts the phone on speaker so all can hear, and Maruja, Gabriela, Betty, and Aura María gather ‘round her desk. The lieutenant recounts what has happened - how none of the victims has identified the women they arrested, and how the only witness they have so far is the building porter who saw the women arrive in the stolen cars, but even he isn’t certain. The lieutenant has asked for the women’s fingerprints to be taken so he can reconfirm that they did indeed steal the cars and assault the executives; he’ll let Betty and company know the results of the tests as soon as he has them. Maruja is sure that this will be the thing that exposes the Stooges’ lie…

Advances for next week: Gabriela tells everyone that the truth is known… We see Armando, Gutiérrez, and Freddy embark on a campaign to reconquer and gain the forgiveness of their women, with Armando playing a guitar along with a trio - but we also see the members of the trio running with the guitars held over their heads like hats…