Yunior compares life during the Trujillo era to a famous episode of The Twilight Zone where a young white boy has the ability to control everyone in his town. Throughout his reign, from 1930 to 1961, Trujillo exercised complete domination over Santo Domingo. He acted like he owned everything and everyone. He also employed a powerful propaganda machine that convinced many Dominicans that he had supernatural powers.
Even so, many Dominicans despised Trujillo and defied his regime. Unlike these resisters, Abelard actively ignored the politics of his day. As Yunior puts it, he didn’t dream of revolution, and he wanted nothing more than to tend his patients and retreat to his study. He assumed that Trujillo’s days as dictator were numbered and that he could simply wait for democracy to arrive.
In February 1945, Abelard received an invitation to another presidential event, and this time the invitation explicitly requested the presence of his wife and his daughter Jacquelyn. He took his concerns to Marcus and Lydia. Once again Marcus responded fatalistically. Lydia chastised him for not acting sooner and, like Marcus, implied that Abelard had no options.
Greatly stressed, Abelard began drinking heavily and isolated himself in his study. Meanwhile, Jacquelyn prepared excitedly for the gala. As the event approached, Lydia tried to convince Abelard to run off with her to Cuba. He rejected the offer, but he also realized that he couldn’t give Jacquelyn to Trujillo. At the last minute he ordered his wife and daughter to stay home and went to the event alone.
Just shy of four weeks later, the Secret Police arrested Abelard on the charge of “slander and gross calumny against the Person of the President.” The event that led to his arrest had occurred shortly after the presidential gala. Abelard had gone to Santiago to purchase a piece of furniture. He asked some friends to help him transport the furniture to his car, a black Packard. They agreed, and when they got to the car, Abelard moved to open the trunk and said, “I hope there aren’t any bodies in there.” The other men present apparently understood the joke as a jab at Trujillo, who had henchmen that infamously drove Packards with bodies in the trunks. One of the men reported the joke to the authorities, and Yunior implies that this man was Marcus.
Nothing happened for the next couple of weeks, though Socorro did dream of a faceless man standing over their bed. But then the Secret Police appeared at Abelard’s home and arrested him. They drove him to a notorious prison in Santiago, where he was beaten and placed in an unsanitary cell with violent criminals. Three days later, Socorro visited Abelard in the prison, and soon afterward, she realized she was pregnant. She would never see him again.