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Fiction

Statistics

By Álvaro Baquero-Pecino
Translated from Spanish by Sarah Pollack
In this work of microfiction, Álvaro Baquero-Pecino constructs a humorous portrait of New York in very real numbers: security cameras, steps to climb the Empire State Building, and so much more.

Three hundred eighty-one meters, 102 floors, and 6,500 windows. We know that more than 2.5 million people visit the Empire State Building each year. An average of eighty-seven couples get engaged atop its observatory every month. It’s estimated that the dimensions of an engagement ring are directly proportional to the unhappiness of the couple. Three out of ten women between the ages of twenty-four and thirty who are visiting New York for a weekend affirm that size does matter. It’s known that the building has 1,576 steps, and that the elevators are almost never out of order. It takes seven minutes and thirty-four seconds to walk from the lobby to the subway station. The newly betrothed can walk past 214 people between Fifth and Seventh avenues. The city’s subway is considered the dirtiest in this world, and those of other parallel universes. Recently, the number of complaints about its rat infestation rose to 24,186. On a bad night, a train car on the red line takes more than half an hour to appear, and no fewer than twenty-one minutes to traverse the eleven stations to the southern tip of Manhattan. On occasion, the noise from the rails reaches 106 decibels. More than 18,000 NYPD security cameras take pictures of passersby everyday. The new station at Whitehall is equipped with five escalators and twenty-eight granite benches. The Staten Island ferry transports more than 66,000 people a day. In the winter, the wind frequently exceeds 43.5 miles per hour, the wind chill dips to thirteen degrees below zero, and the fog during nocturnal crossings can occult all ninety-three meters of Lady Liberty. Nine people have fallen into the water under mysterious circumstances since the beginning of the year. Three out of ten women between the ages of twenty-four and thirty who are visiting New York for a weekend never learned to swim. It’s estimated that in the Hudson River, the weight of an engagement ring is inversely proportional to the likelihood of being saved.

“Statistics” © Álvaro Baquero-Pecino. Translation © 2021 by Sarah Pollack. By arrangement with the author. All rights reserved.

English Spanish

Three hundred eighty-one meters, 102 floors, and 6,500 windows. We know that more than 2.5 million people visit the Empire State Building each year. An average of eighty-seven couples get engaged atop its observatory every month. It’s estimated that the dimensions of an engagement ring are directly proportional to the unhappiness of the couple. Three out of ten women between the ages of twenty-four and thirty who are visiting New York for a weekend affirm that size does matter. It’s known that the building has 1,576 steps, and that the elevators are almost never out of order. It takes seven minutes and thirty-four seconds to walk from the lobby to the subway station. The newly betrothed can walk past 214 people between Fifth and Seventh avenues. The city’s subway is considered the dirtiest in this world, and those of other parallel universes. Recently, the number of complaints about its rat infestation rose to 24,186. On a bad night, a train car on the red line takes more than half an hour to appear, and no fewer than twenty-one minutes to traverse the eleven stations to the southern tip of Manhattan. On occasion, the noise from the rails reaches 106 decibels. More than 18,000 NYPD security cameras take pictures of passersby everyday. The new station at Whitehall is equipped with five escalators and twenty-eight granite benches. The Staten Island ferry transports more than 66,000 people a day. In the winter, the wind frequently exceeds 43.5 miles per hour, the wind chill dips to thirteen degrees below zero, and the fog during nocturnal crossings can occult all ninety-three meters of Lady Liberty. Nine people have fallen into the water under mysterious circumstances since the beginning of the year. Three out of ten women between the ages of twenty-four and thirty who are visiting New York for a weekend never learned to swim. It’s estimated that in the Hudson River, the weight of an engagement ring is inversely proportional to the likelihood of being saved.

“Statistics” © Álvaro Baquero-Pecino. Translation © 2021 by Sarah Pollack. By arrangement with the author. All rights reserved.

Estadísticas

Trescientos ochenta y un metros, ciento dos plantas y seis mil quinientas ventanas. Se sabe que más de dos millones y medio de personas visitan cada año el Empire State Building. Un promedio de ochenta y siete parejas al mes se comprometen en su observatorio. Se calcula que la dimensión de un anillo de compromiso es directamente proporcional a la infelicidad de los contrayentes. Tres de cada diez mujeres de entre veinticuatro y treinta años de edad y de visita en Nueva York durante un fin de semana confirman que el tamaño importa. Es conocido que el edificio posee mil quinientos setenta y seis escalones y que los ascensores casi nunca se estropean. Se tardan siete minutos y treinta cuatro segundos caminando del vestíbulo a la estación de metro. Un individuo y su recién prometida pueden llegar a cruzarse con doscientas catorce personas entre la Quinta y la Séptima Avenida. El metro de la ciudad está considerado el más sucio de este mundo y de otros universos paralelos. Recientemente, el número de quejas por la plaga de ratas ascendió a veinticuatro mil ciento ochenta y seis. En una mala noche, el vagón de tren de la línea roja necesita más de media hora para aparecer y no menos de veintidós minutos al peregrinar por once estaciones hacia el sur de Manhattan. En ocasiones, el ruido de las vías alcanza ciento seis decibelios. Más de dieciocho mil cámaras de seguridad de la Policía de la Ciudad de Nueva York captan miles de imágenes por segundo. La nueva terminal de Whitehall cuenta con cinco escaleras mecánicas y veintiocho bancos de granito. El Ferry de Staten Island transporta a más de sesenta y seis mil personas cada día. En invierno, el viento sobrepasa con frecuencia los setenta kilómetros por hora, la sensación térmica roza los veinticinco grados bajo cero y la niebla del trayecto nocturno puede ocultar los noventa y tres metros de la Estatua de la Libertad. Nueve personas han caído al agua en circunstancias extrañas desde comienzos de año. Tres de cada diez mujeres de entre veinticuatro y treinta años de edad y de visita en Nueva York durante un fin de semana nunca aprendieron a nadar. Se calcula que dentro del Río Hudson el peso de un anillo de compromiso es inversamente proporcional a las posibilidades de salvación.

© Álvaro Baquero-PecinoOriginally published in Los bárbaros. All rights reserved.

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