The rioting that erupted in 1948 following the assassination of a popular Colombian presidential candidate forms an ever-present background for this drama. In the story, Santiago and his wife Josefina have been confined to their Bogota apartment by the chaos in the streets, which is growing progressively worse. To pass the time, and take her mind off the events outside, Josefina bakes a birthday cake for Laura, a single woman living in an apartment across the street. After the cake is baked, Santiago is barely able to negotiate the unruly crowds to cross the street, but soon sniper fire from the rooftops is adding to the dangers, and he will be unable to return to his home until things calm down considerably. Driven by the agitation all around him, Santiago reveals his inner vision of himself to the spinster as a vital, tango-dancing man of action -- romantic and otherwise. While he acts out his fantasies with the willing woman, his wife watches this progression with horrified fascination from across the street.
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