Página número um - sobre o alto da página, soando como ameaça. O escritor se repreende, vamos, é hora de começar. Também a ocasião de uma ironia travessa, demasiado óbvia embora ele por um momento possa se considerar esperto por isso: não sabendo como iniciar a obra, o escritor vinga-se de seu bloqueio criativo elegendo-o como tema.
Então não vamos falar de nada, e não quero ninguém depois reclamando que o que leu não tinha assunto nenhum. Mas qual a real importância de algo ter sentido? Palavras, gestos, ruas têm sentido, mas a maioria das coisas nesta vida não tem sentido nenhum. Então Deus deve ser tudo, jardineiro, polícia, professor, modelo fotográfico, tudo menos escritor: as coisas que faz não precisam senão existir, tenham ou não razão de ser, existir consiste em não precisar ter sentido.
Não fosse essa ressalva, havia que dar algum prazer ao escrivinhador brincar de Deus... Mas o leitor espera beleza e sentido no que lê, enquanto as obras do demiurgo raramente exibem esses atributos. E quando o fazem, temos então plena razão em falarmos em milagre.
Mas há ainda o vazio inescapável da página um e prosseguindo na metáfora da criação divina "ex nihilo", um Deus minimamente responsável tentará criar o melhor dos mundos possíveis. E o melhor romance ou livro de contos ou a grande coleta de poesia possíveis? pierres menards como nós continuarão tentando escrever essa obra arquetípica, a um tempo irreal pois irrealizável, a outro mais real que qualquer outra coisa que já tenhamos de fato lido ou escrito, uma vez que é essa quimera o que nos instiga a prosseguir preenchendo páginas um ou abrindo um livro numa delas.
Ler, por sua vez, requer um grande investimento de tempo, e por isso ler é cada vez mais difícil nestes dias. Já ouviu falar em "novelblank"? É como se diz quando você chega ao fim de um romance de 500 páginas e já não lembra do que aconteceu até a página 490. Dissem que para a pessoa média, sete dias depois da conclusão de um romance, o "novelblackout" é total. Então todo aquele tempo lendo o livrão foi jogado no lixo, e é melhor mesmo você se ater às informações sobre ele contidas na à sinopse da Wikipedia.
Com um livro breve de contos, penso que o mesmo não ocorrerá: nem o volume de informação é tão grande que ultrapasse nossa capacidade de retenção, nem o tempo dispendido será tão longo para que, sobrevindo a desmemória, se tenha perdido muita coisa. Então me veio a idéia: tenho sete contos a meio escritos, se os completo em sete dias terei um livro composto de sete peças para o leitor ler à razão de um por dia, até que, chegado ao fim, terá lido meu livrinho em uma semana, sem hercúleos esforços.
Resta saber se será possível reescrever tanta coisa em um período tão curto. O Kerouak conseguiu, mas relatando experiências que tinha vivido, trocando nomes aqui e ali, sem precisar queimar os fosfatos criando enredos críveis ou consistentes, e essa, descenessário dizer, é a parte árdua do trabalho. Penso por outro lado em certos romances, cuja complicada escritura reclamou décadas inteiras. Tudo somado, me servirei da dupla abordagem: falarei tanto de gente e lugares que conheço como de quem e onde nunca conhecerei, e ,é claro, deixarei igualmente que falem por si.
“You filthy rogue, I have told you time and time again to keep away from the pedestrian zone, you and your fellow little rascals!”
The kid took pains at unhooking his battered T-shirt from the policeman’s grip, who had lifted him by the collar with one hand while hitting with the other the boy’s nape with his clenched fist.
“Where the fuck are the other dirty urchins, are they pickpocketing working-people around, or they for goddamned’s sake stood at house or school today for a change? Didn’t you call any of them to help you out? Why didn’t you? I know too well your are their fucking boss. How old are you then, you fucker?”
The cop sniggered. “Thirteen, is it? Show me now your birth certificate, you are supposed to carry one, you know, where is it?, I can tell you are already over sixteen”.
Moaning under his breath, the kid pulled off from his rear pocket a frayed identity card, which confirmed the age he had stated to the officer.
“Hmm, you are pretty careful with your things, good for you”, the man remarked ironically. “One can hardly read the faded letters on your fucking document. You should be warned that in case you need a second issue, you have to pay a fee for it. But you can’t even care, can you?, you don’t give a shit about it. It is your parents who will pay for it. Anyway, you won’t even need it a couple of years from now, for you and I can bet that any time soon you will be sitting on a prison cell, and you will get identified by playing piano with your fingerprints in a criminal enquiry. A young offender is like an old dog, can’t learn new tricks. You are fucking shameless, aren’t you? Where the hell live mom and dad?”
The sergeant took it for granted that any man is born of a mother and a father, unless he is the breed of a hatchery. Nonetheless, complementing that biological trivial truth, there remains the fact of society that most kids these days are engendered within poor prolific households, and, among these, the most numerous are raised in single-parent families, so the jargon, the father having disappeared without previously being judicially identified and made to contribute with alimony, or else being altogether unknown. And even if he spent some time with the mother, he subsequently moved on to build up another family. Hence, the lonesome mother has to slave to grow her offspring on her own. And the step-father is one or another guy who shows up one day, imparts his bobs among mother and brats and often conceives of a further brother or sister, until he himself vanishes without previous notice.
“I got no father”, retorted the boy, “my mother spends all day in the fabric, she is a needlewoman”, he added.
“And does she have any idea you play havoc around here?”, the sergeant’s rage regained momentum as he pictured in his head a black working woman in charge of the responsibility of raising a disgraceful delinquent without anyone else’s aid. As a result, he reassumed his charge of raps on the youngster’s head.
“Ouch!, you can’t beat me like that Sir, I am a teenager”.
“I can take the sawdust out of whoever asks for it, can you still hear it?”, said the man, slapping his years with his stiff hand palms. “I have the authority and the office duty to fight delinquency. What are you gonna do about my reprimand? Are you listening to it or are you intending to press charges by the Council of Guardianship?”
The policeman started to explain in sententious tone the structure of the youth criminal system, as if thinking aloud: “Our Tutelary Council, you plastic head, is staffed with only three middle-aged ladies, drowning in work paper. They hardly ever have time to get laid. So is constituted all of our model-city overfunded judicial structure available for children in vulnerable , and we are talking about Curitiba, whose population runs to over one and a half million souls. That is the reason why the Juvenile Council can’t help counting on the collaboration from the Military Police service in all incidents involving offences by youths. And in the case you killed someone, and I wouldn’t doubt a second you would dare to, there would be no room for you in a State jail for minors. Because there is none...”- he cackled. “You would get away with it, been release on surveillance, clear to keep on robbing, shooting, raping. But never mind. As I just said, in less then three years you will be on lockdown, and then you will get introduced to real criminals who will teach you the state-of-art on drug dealing business, bank robbery, kidnapping, organized crime. Then one day you will be yourself found dead in a corpse dump, for evidence elimination, with your mouth garnished with slugs".
After having inhaled the sultry air inside the police stand, he carried on his speech, changing his mood condescendingly: “Look, I ain’t saying such things because I wish you bad, I ain’t the kind of guy who goes around throwing curse on people like a crazy old bag lady. I don’t believe such things anyway. I say those things to try to put you right. To avoid what will come next”.
The sergeant’s claws detached from the kid’s body.
“My nerves are by now wrecked with the daily complaints about mugs and harassing. There is nothing as pestering for an officer than having a woman measuring you with the eyes as if insinuating that a brat is more of a man then you are, thinking you are a chicken hidden behind a cheap bleached uniform, who won’t move the ass if necessary. Go to school! Prepare your future! Where do you happen to live, after all?”
“In Villa Fanny, Sir”.
“Whaaat?! That far awaay? What is whole the point in coming downtown? Is it to steal a wallet, a wristwatch, a brand tennis shoe? Look at your clothes: you don’t seem to wear those things you mug. And if you went to school, you would at least have free stuff to eat.”
After the peroration, the cop resumed his inquisition:
“What do you do with things you steal, do you buy shoemaker’s contact glue to snort or get crack stones to smoke?.
“And who is the criminal receiver, I mean, the guy who picks and changes the stolen stuff against money for you? Is he the same that sells you the drug? Does he tell you who or what to steal and then change what you get with drugs?”
“Oh no, Sir, I can’t do that, no, he kills me or he kill my mother”.
“You know one thing? You are a big son of a bitch! The bigger sucker of all, that’s what you amount to be. How dare you involve your mom in this story, she slogging in the fabric in order to put food on the table while you smoke your crack to get stoned? You know what she deserved? She deserved that you disappeared off the face of the earth and stopped being a burden. On her and on everyone else”.
On the wake of his excitement, new hits followed suit, this time under the species of kicks, punches in the eyes, smacks on his tempers. The boy restarted to scream and cry in pain. Passers-by began to stop in curiosity or apprehension outside the cabin, but nobody would venture an interruption to ask what was going on inside. Most were thinking bandits deserve a lesson from time to time.
In the officer’s head, other thoughts also zoomed by. He saw himself as a kid, the sixth son in a destitute family, and all the other boys in school or in the neighborhood asking if he did not happen to have a newer pair of shoes, if he would spend his vacation at the beach, what make of car his dad drove. He would always lie, he would not admit to being a looser, though he knew that his father would never be able to afford all those beautiful things, even if he managed to find a second job, as he had always hoped to. As he himself would never get to buy the luxury items that the kids snatched, no matter if he worked a second shift as a private security guard. And the ocean he would only see as he was already fifteen, when he took a girlfriend to Ilha do Mel with the money he had spared from a job as an errand boy, and there, after having smoked a joint, he fucked a woman for the first time. He did not ever ask anything expensive of his father, his oldman would say that it was all vain anyway, though they were not that vain at all. To show off a trendy T-shirt bore moral connotations. It was also a question of honor. Who could better sell himself, would also be the one to fuck the more pussies.
“Listen, kid. I am warning you and I am a man of a single word. This was your last prank. And this was the last time I will ever hear of you or set my eyes on your brownish ugly face. If you come back and fool around, I will have you beaten in such way that you will never wish to draw close. Am I making myself clear? - he yelled into his ear. “Do you want me to repeat? Should I draw it on your face so you will be reminded?”
The man took seat on a fragile fiberglass chair that faced a small white table mirrored by an equal chair on the opposing side, which, together with a steel file holder cabinet, cramped the cubicle.
“This time we are finished. But next I promise I will give you such a solid spanking you never thought you could take. Aren’t you a tough guy? I wear a purple belt in wrestling, to my beating no amateur has any defense. I foot your head and crack your teeth, I leave you blind for two weeks at least”.
He opened the door, showing the boy the outside walk.
“Do we have a deal?”
“Sure, Sir”, the boy rushed to leave the stand, twitching and scrambling with pain. Tears still washed his face.
Soldier Garcez arrived shortly after.
“Yes, the rogues have been hectic of late. Too much drug on the market. Too many mindless women pacing slothfully along the store showcases with a double-heeled pair of shoes, carrying about their showy expensive bags, talking on a 1,000-real cellphone with the guy who pay the credit card bills. We ought to find out who is selling the drug, to nip it in the bud”.
“Yes, but I am sure that is far from being a priority for our respectable representatives in their white elephants. They must at any rate be granted their monthly bribe payments, whereas we down the line get the blows, chap. We are charged with the task of catching the small fish. But, all said and done, we still have to carry on with our duty, don’t we?
“And how was it with the kid?”
“The battered routine. Lonely mother, underemployed, demotivated. The rogue growing more and more hooked, how is it to be stopped? And the local traders swarming by the Inspector General: the Military Police watches at it hand-tied, the customers are being scared away from the commercial streets, the profits are shrinking steadily, and therefore the State also loses input with a lesser amount of taxes being levied. Finally, to cap the argument, the usual icing on the cake: the lesser sales, the lesser jobs. Bunch of hypocrites! But it is not me or you who is gonna change the world. Nobody changes things by himself. The world and people go changing by their own.”
“For the better or for the worse?”
“Hmm... I think for the better, don’t you? Ten years ago we wouldn’t even vote for the President”.
“By the way, when will your own kid be born?”
Sergeant Schaffer was 31 years old and had been married for scarcely six months with Eduarda dos Santos, a mulatto-woman with keen eyes and a sexy voice, like a radio presenter’s. She was representative of one of those cosmetic firms and sold items per catalog. The child was being expected for that same week.
“Five or eight? days for parental leave, you fool...”
“Have not checked as yet, can you believe it?”, he said, smiling.
“And you think, boss, that you’re going to have less work with your own brat than with those here? Lol, I don’t think they will really be match...”
“Who knows? So many things to think about, I think it hasn’t still dawned on me I’m about to become a father. Yes, I’m gonna be daddy, Garcez! I realize the only dream I ever had was fathering a child. Giving life to a creature, that’s the biggest bless God endowed us with. So that we are able to create as well, however stupid or wicked we may behave. But God is father too and always forgives us. How is he gonna be, my son? A brat, as you said. And whatever he turns out to be, I will always forgive him and give him my blessing, accepting him as he is, with all his warts and faults. Just like my own father. He was always rushing me to a hospital, so I could have a broken bone fixed. And would go furious every weekend I spent drinking and fucking in a roach woman’s club with borrowed money. But he would always save my skin, as God always does”.
When he got home, Eduarda was lying on bed.
“Are you hungry? Do you need anything?, he asked his woman.
“No, thanks, honey. My mother is here. She prepared something. There is some in the kitchen for you. I only feel a little sleepy.”
“Do you want me to turn the TV off or are you watching the novela?”
“Not really. Yes, put that off”.
On going back to the living room, his mother-in-law was entering the apartment with a pack of cigarettes in the hand”.
“I go down so I don’t smoke near her”.
In the kitchen, she got a clean plate from the cupboard and filled it with the rewarmed food from the pen. She served him on the sofa and took a seat next to him. Was she intent on saying something?
“I insist that I will choose the name of the kid myself. And have not made up my mind yet...”
She shook her head. “No, it is not the point. It is something more complicated”.
They both kept looking at the blabbering TV set without really listening to what it was saying.
“You know I earn a pension corresponding to the minimum wage, don’t you? With that income, and being my age, I’m not suitable for being granted a loan by a bank. It’s definitely not much money, but my standards are low, and I can always count on the help of my children in the case of an unexpected event”.
Then she needed money. He immediately considered all the extra-costs he would have with the baby. It was true that the corporation fund would afford all the hospital and medical expenses. But unpredictable fees would eventually surge, wouldn’t they?
“I decided not to tell something because of her situation. But her brother had a car accident. Nothing that serious, he is all right. But his car is not working any longer. Since he’s a taxi-driver and didn’t have any money left to pay for the repair. And now he is out of business and can make no money”.
“I didn’t know that”.
“Well, the cost with this serious mechanic, who was a friend of my husband when he was alive, runs to more or less 5,000 reais. So I thought of asking you for help. This is the deal: if you take a loan with direct debit on your pay-check, the interest rates are the lowest, round 1% a month. This way, a loan on that amount would make 24 instalments at 200 reais each for 24 months. Osvaldo would repay you on due date with the money he would be earning with his fares, but” - she underscored opening wide her eyes and arching her eyebrows “if he he failed to, I give you my word that I pay the instalment with my pension. Now that the baby is about to come, I will be around to help Eduarda, so I will not vanish.”, she added with a sighing smile.
“I must only assure you that Osvaldo is an excellent driver. Oh, you know, you have already ridden by his side. He was not guilty. The other car didn’t stop when the light turned red, and you can see in the croquis in the police report that the impact was lateral. Any expert can infer that it was the other car that traversed the lane in front of Olvaldo’s car. Of course, we will have to sue the other driver, since none of them had an insurance”.
The following day was imbued with the anxiety of his being possibly called at any hour to quit his post to race to the hospital. There were no complaints about pickpockets and, with less work to do, he profited his lunch time to go to the popular bank agency to request information on a credit. Calculations were made and he was delivered a prospectus containing a list of all necessary documentation. He assembled all of them that same afternoon, but decided to go back to the bank only the morning after.
The kids had met on Ruy Barbosa Square out of foreseeable chance, as it usually happened almost every day. There were the terminus stops of the buses coming from the intermediate terminals that connected the far-off districts and slums to downtown Curitiba. On arriving, the boys would get down and loaf around until one of them announced he was up to something. They stopped at first in front of a pastry-store and started to beg coins of the customers who went in and out of the shop. They would keep on doing that until the manager would get angry and scream them out of his sidewalk. However, he apparently had not arrived yet. Even so, the morning was hot and the movement in the store well below average, so much so that they were barely offered some plastic glasses with rests of soda. They would not even bother to make sure that the sharing was being done in equal ratios. Weariness and faintheartedness weighed on them together with the heat. The tension of the proposition was looming in the air amidst the kids. Quim tore it, enquiring directly and without further ado his oldest peer:
“Máikon, couldn’t we turn up around the pedestrian streets today?”
He knew he would be tempted. He also knew that they were left no choice. He shrugged his rickety shoulders and said:
“Why not? Come on...”
The spanking’s bruises were still very conspicuous. That day he had arrived at home still in the late afternoon. When the mother saw him, she did not ask anything. She sentenced to herself: a kids’ brawl, and he could sleep until the following noon without being tormented by her pleading with him to go to school.
The youngsters asked themselves whether they should stay together or go separated.
“I stay by myself, if the cops anger, they take only one of us”.
The others agreed.
“If we lose side one of the others, everybody meet here at six”.
Máikon walked straight down Westphalen Street. He traversed the Zacharias Square and two lateral blocks of the pedestrian zone, then turned left, bound for Suíça Street. He sneaked past the Polícia Militar’s post, only one corner away, but opposite its door and window. The youth felt distressed, his body shaking from urge despite the heat. He had asked around if someone had got glue, but they were all going through a dry spell that morning, following a day without thefts. It was vital that he could get some money. He also felt hungry.
On Suíça Street were located the stores that sold musical instruments and scores and the CD shops. There were also a couple of bank agencies, a lottery retailer and a coffee shop. He lurked hidden in the interstice of an apartment building doorstep almost in the corner, from which he was able to oversee the movement. He could notice that one of the businesses’ premises seemed empty. An old lady holding a fancy purse that seemed stuffed with things crossed him and went through the entry. She was smaller than him. He got nearer and observed that she had left the glass door open behind her. From the angle he could visualize the scenery, there was in addition only one young woman dressed in an orange uniform standing behind a short counter on which reposed a telephone. Both chairs in synthetic leather in front of it were unoccupied. It would be easy. All it would take was snatching the purse and bid farewell running through the open door with it.
When he reached out for the bag strap and the woman turned her face to him in a fright, he felt his nape being seized by a dauntingly familiar handgrip.
By a quirk of fate, the old woman with the bag had entered a low-loans agency. Opposite the counter behind which stood the employee, there were two twin chairs, an empty corridor giving way to a toilet door, and finally, leaning against the other wall, a row of attendance chairs, of which the boy could not have caught sight, given his diagonal viewpoint. In one of those benches Sergeant Schaffer had settled himself, waiting for a fax from the Corporation’s Personal Department that would confirm the inscription of the credit into his pay-check.
He dragged the rogue up to the police post. Garcez was absent at the moment, better that way. The boy went in resignedly. Both could anticipate what would succeed.
“I told you I had one single word”.
Again, the sergeant did not worry about the eventual curiosity from passers-by. Should anyone have anything to ask, he ought to knock at the door first.
“Swallow your groans and at least take it like a man this time. The louder you cry, the heavier my blows will strike”.
No matter how hard he tried, the kid could not refrain screams from pouring through his lips.
“Enough, enough, you’ve hit enough, I beg...”
“Who decides how much is enough is me, you villain”.
Gradually, the ache from the strokes and kicks seemed to remove somewhere else. Instead of relief, the boy was filled with the scaring sensation that the blows had gone just too far. With extreme effort he concentrated his attention not to pass out. Vomit was spurting from his throat, obstructing his breathing. In despair, he turned to a last resort:
“It is Galcez, it is Soldier Garcez. He changes the drug for us. He uses the drugs that should go to the deposit. I swear!”, he stammered.
It was not immediately that Schaffer realized the full extent of what the boy sought to bring forth. He kept on hammering Máikon’s head alternately with his boots.
“Garcez...”, his voice going fainter and fainter.
He listened no more. He just proceeded with his blows, now reinforced by a blended feeling of perplexity and impotence. He asked out:
No response come out of the boy’s mouth. His body had also ceased to jerk at the blows. Schaffer tried to control his drive to carry on aggressing that unresponsive body, though he by then could already guess that the kid had lost consciousness.
“What’s up, chief?”
Garcez had just got in, attracted by the number of people gathered around the post.
Schaffer stopped his agressions at last. Now, he held breath only to stutter:
“He said it was you...”
Garcez understood the seriousness of the charge. On seeing the boy’s body, he feared the worst. He bent over it and tried to feel Máikon’s pulse.
“He is dead, man, he is dead!”
“He said it was you...”, Schaffer repeated, almost crying.
“To hell what he said! It doesn’t mind. What really counts is what they will say. I will be a disgrace. We will have to fix this situation!”
“We what?!”, Schaffer regained his composure, shouting indignantly.
“We will of course have to find a way out. We. You scratch my back and I scratch yours! Why would you jeopardize your carrier and ultimately make us lose everything because of a little sucker?”
Inert, Schaffer stood plumb against the wall, staring at the dead body. Garcez was reasoning on his feet:
“The corpse of that Law student who was murdered by her professor was found near the Rio Vermelho’s flanks, are you reminded? If anybody bothers to, none will look out there. They same lightening never strikes twice the same place. All I need is go past home and drop down to fetch a pair of shovels, or do you prefer to dig with your bare hands, Sir?”
Schaffer shook his head in the gesture with which we usually mean no, but in this case he only expressed his utter incredulity before the happenings. He had never witness a death. Never had he come close to take someone’s life.
Garcez pulled over the patrol car on the side of the police post, parking over the sidewalk, caring to align the vehicle doors with the exit way in front of the stand door. He entered hurriedly and tackled the dead body with agility, carrying it outside, holding it firm on an upright position, by sustaining his feet over his own and enveloping his left arm agains its back so as to prevent it from bowing, until he let it slump on the rear car seat. By this time, barely a by-stander had endured. Those few who still followed the act did found no strangeness in the wobbly corpse’s pose, since Garcez, on closing the car door, had the ready tongue to voice out:
“He is high on shoemaker’s glue, those stupid kids. He is gonna be sent to an institution, so he can wean off the vice. Fortunately, it never crossed my mind breeding kids”.
When he started the engine, the tight boy’s body tumbled to the side. Good thing, this way none will take heed of it. On the front seat next to Garcez, Schaffer only reiterated:
“Shit! Shit! Shit! I lost control. Shit is always lurking to happen. I didn’t expect this could end just like this...”
They were lucky, though. It had rained all through the previous weekend, and consequently the earth was softer than usual. Garcez found a small clearing, broad enough for their task, between two araucárias, and he set about penetrating the earth with his pade.
“Wont’t you lend a helping hand, chief? The faster we finish, the sooner all is left here forgotten and buried for good”, Garcez said sarcastically.
When Schaffer grabbed his shovel, he remembered a story his father used to tell about his own father.
He lived in the country, in a remote village raised in a settlement in the North part of the State. The land proprietor, a British firm, was eager to attract workforce for the booming coffee plantations. The peasants were arriving mostly from the northeastern inland of Brazil in irregular throngs, and they would have to wait several weeks to be granted a piece of land and be transported to the distant farms spread hundred of miles in all directions. His grand-father was one of the first migrants to arrive. Now he was living by a port on the longest river, the main traffic hub whereas the roads were still under construction. He was an important guy in the zone because, although he did not have the proper education, he worked as a sort of practitioner and handed out the necessary medical assistance. There was this girl, what was her name, Marissol, yes, probably that, she was young when she arrived, not as yet a teen, but blossomed into an exuberant young woman. They both flirted during many year, until this officer came, sent from the capital, and in no more than two months he had impregnated her and they got married. Grandfather did not know about their liaison until it was consummated, he having had to make a journey further along the river to arrange for a new health post being built in another precabricated new village like theirs.
It was the year of the war in Europe, and the officer was recruited to go to fight in Italy. He left her and remained absent for several months. In the meantime, the child was born. It was him, Schaffer’s grandfather who attended the birth. It was a difficult procedure, she remained too many hours laboring and lost a huge amount of blood. But the baby was worst still. But he kept all the same in love with her. It was a delicate, sickly child, prematurely born. He stood by her and her baby. His love had not subdued and now he sought to deploy all of his forces to get the child his rival’s son to live.
However, the harder he cared for his well-being, the worse his condition seemed to become. He could see death dashing as a stealthy shade through his eyes, he could hear it on the boy’s unsteady heartbeats, he could touch its coldness on the boy’s skin and even notice the reek of it in the air dense with the fumes of the forest fires.
Days passed by and he felt exhausted. One day he decide to leave the boy and his mother sleeping unobserved inside the house, and finally take a look how things were going outside it. For lack of maintenance work, the fences bars were already somehow askew and the plasterboard from the walls was gradually begin to detach. But worse of all, weed had jumped over the marks, recovering the vegetable garden and even nearing the doorstep. He took a shovel and neurotically went around unrooting the weed and clearing the ways. That weed was death, he eventually said to himself. That weed was the approach of the inevitable, a force whose hungry onslaughts he could only temporarily avoid and detain, but which one day would win its patience war and swallow the baby’s breath, swallow wall and path and door, and then bed and then flesh and bone and then everything.
The earth’s mouth was already open when Schaffer’s radio shrill. Taken by assault, he uttered “Roger, over to you”. A message from the central. Eduarda had been let into the hospital.
After the apprehension caused by the radio bleep, before rolling the body into the gaping trench, it occurred to Garcez to fumble in the kid’s pockets. He found on his rear jean’s pocket a plastic wallet with an invisible side zipper, as one can buy for 5 reais at any peddler bag, its background in black, and the blue front side with a sketched beach landscape and an imprint with the initials O.P., for “Ocean Pacific”, in pretended English. Inside, there was a dozen of newsstand cards illustrated with photos of known football players as well as a yellowed birth certificate, gate-fold to fit in the compartment where money bills were supposed to be stored. He handed it out to Schaffer. Then Garcez outstretched his key string, which doubled as a hand-knife, opened the boys palms and scratched off the corpse’s fingerprints. Lastly, he reseized his shovel and began to cover it with the previously unhollowed earth.
“If Eduarda is at Mercês Hospital, you could drop me there”.
“Do you want me to climb up with you?”
“No, you go your home and get rid of the shovels. Clean the car and leave it in front of the post. Tomorrow we talk about what happened today... In case I will have the stomach to look at your filthy face again... Oh, I almost forgot it, no, tomorrow I will be on leave. Anyway, it’s over now. I mean, your misconduct. I will keep a close eye on you, be sure. You’ll have to play by the book. I don’t work with criminals”.
“You take your hero speech and shove it! Don’t be such a bigot. Whoever kills somebody I also call a bandit, and of worst stock!”
Schaffer groped on his holster in an infuriated reaction. “I had no intention to keel, asshole”
“Fuck it. You lost your limits. That thing you are supposed to learn in the academy! Say you had no intention to kill to the boy’s mom, moron”.
Garcez cast a look to the side and could still perceive Schaffer’s face blushed and twitched in an angry grimace. He sought to calm down the nerves:
“Hey, listen. This story finishes now. For me nothing ever happened. I helped you clean your crap. You owe me nothing. And I owe nothing to you”.
Schaffer did not say a thing. There really was nothing left to be said. He hold in his hands the kid’s birth certificate. He opened it carefully, as if he did not want to rip it, and read out: “Máikon de Oliveira”. He folded it back. “God may take care of you now, my son. And may forgive me too, but I have myself a child to look after”. He tore the document and set about scattering the paper snips on the outside of the vehicle, against the wind that drifted away the open window on his side.
It would be Garcez who, two days later, would register the missing report. Mrs. Maria do Carmo de Oliveira would have informed herself by some of his son’s neighborhood friends about his son, who had not come back home one night before. That had told that they had agreed on riding back to the district at six that afternoon, but he failed to show up. Since then, he would not have returned home or given a call to reassure her about his whereabouts.
“But why did they come downtown, lady? they came to pickpocket on the pedestrian streets?”
“Sir, I don’t need a lecture. I do both all I possibly can and all I can’t. I try to look after, but the kids, they grow big. And the bigger they grow, the more they are kids”.
Garcez would excuse himself, he had to talk to his chief for a couple of minutes, in order to be instructed on whether the report should be converted into a police inquiry right there, at the Police Post, or if it should be submitted to the Juvenile Council first. Then he would exchange some brief words with Schaffer outside the stand, so that the woman could not hear them. Soon after that, he would regain his seat behind the thin white table to announce the result of his consultation:
“Yes, it will be handed over to the Tutelary Office and, in the sequence, it can turn into an inquiry, if it is the case”.
When he entered the hospital bedroom, his radiant mother-in-law stretched out to him a boy wrapped in a bright blue sheet. The little one did not shy away from his hold. With open wide eyes, he bit the man’s fingers.
In tears, he headed towards his wife, who observed him attentively from the bed, in an effort to be reminded thereafter of his emotion. He sat by her side, while the child began to tap with his little hands the father’s lips. Only then became he aware of the strong sweat stink rising from his armpits.
“Tell us, daddy, have you decided on his name?”, enquired the anxious grandmother with her hoarse voice mellowed in a sweet pattern.
“Please no Junior! Not Ubiracy Junior!”, Eduarda laughed, twitching from the belly aches her laughing had caused her.
Yes, that did not sound good. He himself had always had trouble with that name, mainly at school time.
After some instants of reflection, surprised with the spell of that name dipped in the depths of the afternoon events, he announced:
“Máikon. What do you think of it? Máikon is a beautiful name”.
Both women nodded with their heads, reiterating as if in a trance one to the other Máikon, Máikon.
São Paulo, 2011, according to a plot developped as a project in the 1990s in Curitiba, where the story takes place.
Notes: 1) Araucária: brazilian pine (bot.), omnipresent in Curitiba’s plateau, an evergreen coniferous tree of the genus Araucaria, native in South America and Australia, characterized by its typical form of straight or capsized cup.
2) Máikon is the Brazilian adaptation of Michael, name popularized by American movies and pop-singers, common among the lower classes.
P.S. The deviations from the style grammar are intentional and correspond to an artistic option by the author.
Posted by CHRISTIANO VALOIS firstname.lastname@example.org