A Short Story: One of These Days by Gabriel García Márquez

What happens if the powerless became the powerful one?

One of These Days is a short story that was published in 1962. The author of the story is Gabriel García Márquez, a Colombian writer and journalist. He is mostly known for his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. He is one of the best-known writers in Latin America. Maybe since he is both a writer and journalist, his work often includes topics such as class differences and power struggles. This story in particular is about an incident between a politician and a middle-class dentist.

At the start of the story, a dentist named Aurelio Escovar is polishing false teeth in his office. While he is doing his job, his son tells him that the mayor came and wanted to get his tooth pulled. The dentist refuses and wants his son to tell him that he is not in the office. The son says that the mayor heard their conversation and that the mayor would shoot the dentist if he refused. The dentist wants his son to tell the mayor to come and shoot him. Still, when the mayor comes inside he sees his miserable condition. One side of the mayor's face was clean-shaven and the other side was swollen and not-shaven. Seeing this, the dentist agrees to pull the tooth. Yet, he said that it had to be without anesthesia. As the reason, he said that the mayor had an abscess. While pulling the tooth he tells "Now you’ll pay for our twenty dead men." to the mayor. After they are done with the whole ordeal, the dentist asks if he should send the bill to the mayor or the town. The mayor answers by saying that they are the same.

What makes One of These Days unique is the constant power imbalance between the characters turning around for once. From the story, it is not hard to say that the mayor has great power and he is not afraid to abuse this power. We see it when he threatens to shoot the dentist, or when we learn that he is using the town funds as his own. The phrase "Now you’ll pay for our twenty dead men." is also about that. We don't know the context but it is possible to say that the dentist is blaming the mayor for the death of these people. Yet, during the story, the mayor isn't powerful. He is in pain and needs the dentist to pull his tooth to heal. The dentist has the cure, therefore he has the power and he uses this power. He uses it to get revenge on the corrupt mayor, making him reel in pain. It is possible to see that the mayor and the dentist represent more than themselves. They are different sides of a conflict, the class difference between them.