Eight o’clock sharp. Luísa was already sitting in front of the desk welcoming another work day. She feared the arrival of her boss “senhor engenheiro”, especially if he was in a bad mood. She started checking the orders and collecting a group of invoices, to see if everything was in perfect order. She also had to prepare the staff salaries.
Eight years have gone by and she still had to put up with that chubby boss.
She dressed unbecomingly on purpose in order to avoid any harassment from him. She dreamt of rubbing a letter of resignation to his face. That unbearable being was the work of the devil, she was sure. She only put up with him because of the twenty thousand escudos salary.
During the calmest moments of the day, when the boss was away, Luísa dreamt of her wedding, gorgeous walking along the church by the arm of her father. The dream was always interrupted by the thought of having to get a boyfriend first.
She heard a knocking on the door.
– Good morning, senhor engenheiro. – the girl courteously said.
– Bring me a coffee into my office – he answered without even looking at her.
Luísa ran for the coffee. She knocked at the door and put the coffee on his table without a word. She left closing the door behind her.
She hadn’t even sat when she heard the shouts from the office:
– Luísa! Luísa…
– Yes, senhor engenheiro!
– Where are the payment sheets for me to sign? I won’t be in tomorrow and have to sign them today! Haven’t you prepared the dam sheets yet?
– Senhor engenheiro, it is still the first of the month and I still am waiting for the attendance register from…
– I don’t care about that! I’ll have to sign them today because I’m going to the Algarve tomorrow. Find your own way! That’s what I pay you for.
– Yes, I’ll try to arrange it…
– Don’t try! I want it done today and during the morning.
The girl ran to the construction site to find some of the foremen.
– Mr Paulo… thank God I found you! I need the attendance registers for the last month right away. I have to arrange for the salaries…
– In such a hurry? – the man asked – Have it. It’s already filled in.
– Mr Paulo I also need a favour. I am unable to speak to Mr Afonso but I also need his registers! Couldn’t you…
– I’ll go there now. Is that OK? I’ll do anything for your pretty face.
The girl ran out ashamed.
– Thank you, Mr Paulo.
She was taking care of the salaries of Mr Paulo’s team when the phone rang.
– Construções Baltazar, Lda, good morning.
– It’s Afonso.
– Good morning, Mr Afonso. Didn’t Mr Paulo talk to you?
– Yes, he did but I still haven’t filled in the register! – Luísa turned stone cold.
– Wait! Nobody skipped work last month, therefore it’s easy to calculate the salaries.
– Thank you Mr Afonso! Have a good day.
Just before noon, the girl was knocking at the boss’s office door.
May I come in, senhor engenheiro? Here are the salary sheets for you to sign.
– Leave them.
One o’clock p.m. and she was already at her desk. As time went by, she struggled against time to manage to fulfil all her tasks. She sensed the arrival of engenheiro. He was with company.
– Good afternoon. – said the company.
– Good afternoon… – answered the girl.
The two men went into the boss’s office.
– Yes, senhor engenheiro!
– Bring me the bottle of whisky and two clean glasses. – she ran for the bottle and the two glasses stored at the cupboard.
– Excuse me…
– What the hell is this? The glasses are all dirty. What have you been doing? What am I paying you for?
The company looked at her with some sorrow.
– Hey, Baltazar. Aren’t you a bit rude with the girl?
– Rude, counsellor? She is a shrinking violet, I have to put up with! She is around just to get the twenty thousand escudos I pay her. Let my daughter finish school and you will see what will be her destiny… out of the door!
– Come on, Baltazar, don’t say that…
– I do say that… who wants a shrinking violet like this? Have you looked at her appearance? She is bad for the company’s image! I can guess what she is in need for… – he let out a loud laughter. – What can she do with such a face?
Luísa was at the bathroom, rinsing the glasses. She heard every word uttered by the boss. Each grew inside her as a spear hitting her dignity.
– Son of a bitch… – she mumbled.
She gulped, took a deep breath and entered the office. The image of that pot belly with chubby face and yellow teeth came to her front and as if it wasn’t enough the troglodyte was rubbing his balls.
– Here are your glasses, senhor engenheiro. – and left closing the door behind her.
She sat and grabbed her work in order to escape from the memory of the words she had listened to. An hour and a half went by and they finally left the office. Engenheiro also brought his coat on which meant he was also leaving .
– This work must be ours, doutor! Tell them at the city hall that nobody does cheaper budgets than we do. We will manage between ourselves. You know you are always better off with me.
– Will you be back, senhor engenheiro? Luísa asked. Her answer was the door slamming on her face.
It was ten to six p.m. Luísa went to the storage to fetch the broom. As she was sweeping the office, after emptying the paper bins, she couldn’t help to notice the salary sheets hadn’t been signed. Certainly, engenheiro would be back to the office to sign them. It was already past six o’clock p.m. when she closed the office door. With the keys in her hand, she was anxious to sit behind the driving wheel of her Renault 5 and turn on the radio. She did so.
Seven o’clock a.m. Luísa was back on her car on the way to her personal hell. However, she was happier for several reasons: the following day would be a holiday, Holy Friday; her bully boss was away and it was pay day and by the end of the afternoon a group of boys, some of which real hunks, would pass by the office to receive their salaries. The music on the radio was pleasant… but was interrupted by the host.
– Bad accident on A1 towards… – she turned the radio off.
– Dam. Just during my favourite music! They have no respect for the listeners.
She opened the door and ran to the office to bring the salary sheets signed and place each one inside an envelope with the due money. She was petrified when she saw they hadn’t been signed. She calmed herself with the thought that engenheiro would certainly pass by the office to do it.
It was already around ten o’clock and still nothing. The telephone rang.
– Contruções Baltazar, Lta, good morning.
– Good morning Luísa. It’s Paulo.
– Oh Mr Paulo, thank God you called! Senhor engenheiro went to the Algarve for Easter with his wife and daughter and he didn’t sign the salary sheets for the boys…
– He didn’t sign and he isn’t going to sign. He had an accident on A1 and he died as well as his whole family!
– Oh, my God! – the girl shouted – And now what?
Now, pretty face… have a happy Easter!
Happy Easter… from the project A STATE OF MIND
Photo: Sérgio Moreira
Text: Adão Baptista
Finally sixty-five. Nogueira dreamt all his life of his sixty-fifth birthday because he would finally be able to enjoy his rightful retirement. Fifty years of work, always a blacksmith, surrounded by weld and iron dusts, he knew the grinder and the welding machine like no one. They were his little ones but he wanted some rest and letting them rest too, fed up with working. Too many years making gates. Now he could finally care of himself, he was happy for his last working day, which meant going to the factory and leaving the overalls and the locker key.
Nogueira felt relieved. He felt he had fulfilled his duty and now, still healthy and in fit shape, he would concentrate one hundred per cent on Zulmira, on his grandchildren, his yard, his garden and could even go to the café and play cards. He knew that they would be preparing some surprise at the factory. It were so many years of conviviality and furthermost his birthday.
He stepped into the factory and everything was as usual. He addressed the foreman and told him it was his last day and everything was settled with the office clerk. He told him to wait.
As he waited he kept looking at his co-workers, many of whom he had taught the craft. He was proud, leaving a good legacy. He knew that he would be remembered forever. After half an hour Mr Monteiro arrived. He followed him to his office and he signed some retirement papers.
Very well Nogueira… congratulations. You leave the locker key to Manuel and see you around, the boss said.
He arrived home almost at noon. He lunched and went to bed for a little. He woke up in mid-afternoon and Zulmira asked him to pick his grandchildren from school. He went.
He left the grandchildren at home with granny and he went to the yard. The time to dinner arrived.
All the bastards were there with a cake and sang happy birthday.
Last day… from the project A STATE OF MIND
Photo: Sérgio Moreira
Text: Adão Baptista
Irene was already at her stone. It was almost two years past over the collapse of Minas do Pejão, but the woman was there almost every day and people didn’t know very well what she was doing either talking to someone or even praying.
Sitting in front of the gate that gave access to the mine’s entry, she waited until six p.m. where she waited for her husband so many times, especially when he had left at dawn without his umbrella.
Jerónimo had only had a boss. He started working at the age of twelve and has died at the age of thirty six. Two thirds of his life has been spent in the galleries of the mine, digging.
Irene could still remember the day they were married, a Saturday at the five p.m. mess on the seventh April and he only had the Sunday to rest. On Monday, he had to get up at six o’clock a.m. to prepare lunch for him to take to the mine.
– You know Jômo… (that was how Irene called her husband) Francisco is very cranky lately. I don’t know what is going on but he vents about everything. I can’t wait for him to finish school in order to learn a trade. You know, I thought of talking to Carpenter Quim, so that he would take him as an apprentice. I know he can’t pay him much but it’s something… and carpenter is a nice craft! I don’t want him to go to construction labour. He is so frail… and has the trouble with his bones! Coming to the mines is even worse! What happened to you could happen to him! – Irene started crying uncontrollably.
– Oh, Jômo… I miss you so much, dear God! I wish I could have made you a proper burial. Now, I come here to the gate like a crazy lady… – she wiped her eyes to the fingers.
Irene stopped, silent and looked for a glimpse at the gates. Minas do Couto Mineiro in Pejão, Castelo de Paiva meant every day bread to the table for many families in the surroundings. To Irene, they were the “devil” that swallowed her most precious item and never spat it back.
– Our little girl hasn’t been eating very well. I don’t know if it is because she is turning into a woman… I don’t know. I will have to talk to her, of course… explain things to her, or she will get a good scare. You know, it has been a bit difficult to raise them by myself. I am not complaining because of the money because your insurance money is enough for our living. It is your presence that we miss. Sometimes the boy would need a good spank from his father, or some talk that only men can have… we miss you so much, my man.
She looked towards Douro river spotting two passing boats.
– I missed you this morning… – she laughed- … you know, just after washing I noticed my toe nails were so grown. – she laughed again – How I loved when you cut my toe nails! You were so handy. And then you would tickle the soles of my feet… – laughter turned into uncontrolled cry.
Irene felt a strong tightness in her chest, a pain so intense that her heart seemed to burst out with such tightness.
-Oh, I am getting all this out of my chest like a crazy woman… You know, Jômo, I’ll kill the pig next week.
The weather is becoming cooler to smoke the meat. I am a bit fearful but I don’t know if I should tell you this. Well, that’s why we got married. There can’t be secrets between us. You know Armando, the pig seller that usually kills our pigs, the last time he went there to kill the previous pig, came to me with some talk I didn’t like. He turned to me and started saying I am still a young woman and should end up with the mourning period and let go of the black clothing. He told me that black clothing won’t bring anybody back. He told me I was a pretty woman and could still get someone and move on.
Have you seen the nerve, Jômo? He’s lucky I respect him or I would tell him to eat shit with all that talk. Had I someone to kill the pig…on this grounds it is just him. This time, if he comes to me with such talks I swear I’ll take the knife from his hands and push him out!
While Irene continued her monologue, the siren from the mines signalled six o’clock p.m. the end of the daily shift. The miners started coming to the surface and heading to the gate. They came up using “the cage”, through the tunnel until they could see the sunlight at the entry of the mine. Coming from the “centre of the Earth” they showed up looking very tired, looking like having rock feet. As they passed by the widow they nodded their heads in respect. Her almost daily presence, sitting on a rock was a living memory of the tragedy.
– Your mates are already leaving, Jômo. I must go too, because the kids are surely arriving from school. I don’t know if I can come tomorrow. I have a doctor’s appointment because of my headaches. The doctor will check the exams she ordered. Maybe, she will come to the conclusion that I am crazy… – she laughed.
– I wish I could take you home, my man. God wanted you to stay down there forever keeping guard at the mines… – she wept again – I swear that all I want is to grow the kids up so that I can join you. Then, we will be together forever. I miss you so much, my man…
Irene took the brook through the pinewood which was the shortest way to her home.
I miss you so much… from the project A STATE OF MIND
Photo: Sérgio Moreira
Text: Adão Baptista
Gilberto has closed himself in his room. He took the key from the lock, opened the window and threw the key away. He opened the drawer of the bedside table and took a notebook, searched a little and finally found a pen.
I don’t know very well how to start and much less what to write. I think these words are useless but here they are. Lately I feel I don’t exist. I feel like I am an old brush which the painter will have to replace… I am good for nothing. Lately, the talks, our talks sum up to bills, money, loans. Well…
I don’t mean to apologize for anything but also don’t mean to take the blame. Maria, I think it is your fault. You have just watched to this drama that summed up to the degradation of my life. What have you done? Nothing. You just worried about working and knowing if the money was enough to pay the bills. Well…
You live from appearances and that isn’t good for me. You must be asking yourself: What about gambling? What about drinking? What about cocaine? Let me tell you that these are all my real pleasures. In the last couple of years they were my only companions. I know they are vices but… we all have them. I am saying goodbye but not to you. Just to the world. Well…
I have some messages to my mother. Tell her I have never understood her well. If she didn’t want me to live “this kind of life”, as she often said in family gatherings, why did she feed “my kind of life”? About bad friends, that she accused of being the causers… just tell her that there are no friends in the world. There is only today and now… she used to tell my father “We must help him! We must get him out of this!” Ask her if she ever asked me if I wanted to be helped. If I ever asked for help. I can’t understand. Well…
As to my father, you can tell him that I have nothing to tell him which is bad.
The next lines are for the children.
Henrique: I know that being just ten years old, it will be very difficult to understand it all that I am doing. But my dear son… I also want to die. Don’t suffer for me because I don’t deserve it.”
Gilberto stopped writing. He laid the pen down and sniffed a line of cocaine. He sipped the last gulch of whisky.
He went on.
“My son, I would like to have lived time enough to see you being happy but I confess that lately I didn’t even see you at all . You annoy me with all the questions you make and the demands to play football in the park. Have you ever asked yourself if I like playing football? Well…
But I love you.
Now, for Mateus: Dear son, you were born because of a mistake your mother made. She thought that your birth would “save” our marriage which already had nothing left to be saved. At the beginning I doubted that you were my son but I take her word for it. Being just one year old, you probably won’t ever remember my face or even my existence but maybe someone will tell you about me. Well…
As for the remaining, Maria, I must tell that lately I have always lived to the limit, always trying to fill in a void I feel inside. Because I couldn’t do it and I don’t have money enough nor anything else to sell… I feel it isn’t worth being around.
Don’t judge my action as selfish or coward… I just think you will be better without me.
Goodbye to you all.
He laid the notebook down on the bed and sniffed the last line of cocaine. He opened the bottle and drenched himself with the diluent. He lighted the lighter and followed the course he had given to the key.
Gilberto has closed himself from the project A STATE OF MIND
Photo: Sérgio Moreira
Text: Adão Baptista
Luís wept. Pedro looked from the cradle to the bedroom door and back.
– It’s OK. Mummy will be back soon.
Stuck to the wheelchair, he felt completely unable, completely powerless, and really useless. He was becoming nervous. He couldn’t see nor hear Cláudia’s footsteps along the hall. He didn’t want to call for her because he knew she didn’t come for some reason. She was certainly making dinner or filling the washing machine or…
– Fuck! – he cursed. His nervous system was getting upset to the point of his breath beginning to become instable.
Although he tried hard, he couldn’t help to feel anger for the delay in Cláudia’s help and for having put himself to the condition of tetraplegia. Luís shouted desperately. From the corridor came a strong bang of a pan hitting something hard in the kitchen.
– Fuck, is she deaf? I am a real son of a bitch! Who is the bastard that leaves his wife nine months pregnant at home and goes to the pinewood to practise car rally? Then I had my punishment from God…
Pedro couldn’t get rid of all that guilt that tormented him during the twenty-four sombre hours of the day. The only time he would not concentrate on it was during physiotherapy for one hour and a half. He considered that he was guilty for the accident, that God punished him and broke the springs in the shock absorbers for having left his wife alone at home.
Luís was almost breathless.
Cláudia… – shouted Pedro. No one answered.
He was confused and with a heavy headache. He was reliving his accident time and again at high speed. He moved his head quickly, which was the only part of his body that he could move… His eye glasses fell.
– Oh, my God… she left us! – he looked at the cradle – She abandoned us, my little son! We will be dead already when someone comes here and finds us. Sweat poured down his face.
– Cláudia… Claúdia… – he yelled and no one would answer. The mucus from his nostrils mixed with the tears down his face. The phone rang. No one answered. It rang again… Pedro was sure she had left them. She couldn’t hold the burden. That instant, Pedro’s head fell abandoned over his chest… he fainted. Sudden silence filled the room.
Pedro opened his eyes. The first image he saw was the lamp on the ceiling. He heard some muffled voices.
– He is waking up… – someone said. He heard someone calling his name. He turned his head a little and saw his mother-in-law’s face.
– The child? – he asked.
– Your sister is giving him a bottle… he is OK.
– My sister? What is she doing here? What are you doing her? Where is Cláudia?
– You know… – the woman started crying uncontrollably. He was afraid.
I phoned here several times and she never answered. I was worried and came here. I knocked at the door and nobody answered. As I heard the baby crying, I asked the neighbour for help and we forced the front door…
– Cláudia has left? – he asked.
– Yes, my boy. She couldn’t stand it anymore and left…
The lady let herself sit on the bed and cried.
– When I got in, I came running to the bedroom and you were passed out and the child was crying his lungs out. Mr Júlio laid you on the bed and I caught the baby from the cradle… when I went to the kitchen to prepare his bottle… there she was lying on the ground lifeless! – she cried.
Pedro felt sore all over his body. It seemed as if they were extracting all his bones through the nostrils. He couldn’t even feel anger. All was guilt.
You know, the forensic told us it must have been a brain bleeding. You know, she was a diabetic and lately she didn’t take much care of herself. Poor thing, she didn’t take any care of herself… it was too much for her and she let her health to last worry.
Pedro closed his eyes. He felt even guiltier. He understood that God’s punishment destined for him was even bigger than he had ever thought. His Cláudia, his mate… that woman was now so far that she could never kiss him again. His fighter was so good at healing other people’s wounds… and nobody could heal hers.
– Pedro… Pedro! – a soft hand touched all his face. The voice was familiar.
– Wake up, hubby… – Pedro opened his eyes. He looked at the smile in Cláudia’s face.
– Come on, get up! Francisco is here at the door. You made arrangements for a rally practice at the pinewood.
Pedro was motionless, raised his left hand and caressed his wife’s belly.
– Tell Francisco I won’t go.
Cláudia looked at her husband, shook her head and smiled. Before she left the room, he asked her:
– Did the boy kick you much tonight?
– The boy? Didn’t we settle not to know the gender before birth?
– Well… I know it will be a boy!
All was guilt from the project A STATE OF MIND
Photo: Sérgio Moreira
Text: Adão Baptista
It was a very special day for Andrade. Not only because it was Valentine’s day but mainly because he would have dinner with his young boy.
He felt like a teenager, excited but fearful at the same time. At the age of fifty-eight he had never done anything like this, he had always kept his wishes secret.
José, or Zé as he liked to be called, was only 22. Andrade took him off the streets. When he met him, the boy was a homeless prostitute that earned for his food and vices. Three years had passed but Andrade still remembered his black eyes, covered with much goo, which stood out of José’s thin and dirty face. Now, he can’t get tired of repeating it was love at first sight. Zé laughed and mocked him.
Andrade is a famous pianist who is very well off. What he earns from his piano lessons, and most of all from his concerts, which are mostly abroad, allows him to live wealthily. So, he helped the boy to come out of the streets, paying for the first rents and, later, he pulled some strings and allowed him into the show business.
He could still remember the day that he had desperately declared his love for the boy. He started laughing.
– I knew that already… – said Zé. It was funny to see someone around his fifties blushing as an ashamed child.
After that, the man did never give up investing on the boy. He got him some auditions and finally a job in show business. He bought him the first paint box and taught him patiently to make up. He attended very nervous to his first show as drag queen. He was fierce of every movement Zé made on stage delighted as in the presence of the true Maria Callas. He was so excited that all other people had stopped and Andrade was still standing and applauding. When the boy asked him how the show was, he simply couldn’t speak.
They dated already for almost a year. Andrade arrived home and, after a long bath, he was choosing what to dress for the evening. He took his black suit out and noticed it was well ironed. He placed it on the bed and went to the bathroom to shave. Carefully, he let the shaving blade run through his face. He put some perfume. He went back to the bedroom. He put on a white shirt and started dressing his suit. He decided not to wear a tie, today. He put on his black socks and then the shoes. He looked into the mirror and thought… he was way too formal, as if going to work, or maybe as if going to a wake. He felt old and ridiculous. He took a deep breath and went back to the wardrobe. He looked and looked and nothing pleased him. He scratched his head and still nothing pleased him. He looked at the grey suit which he didn’t wear for a while because he thought the trousers had a cut “way too modern”. He took the trousers from the hanger and put them on. He felt OK. He went to the drawer in the closet and took a navy blue polo shirt that his sister had given him and he had never dressed before. He tried it over the white shirt. He took a look at the mirror. He shrank his belly a little and felt young, while laughing at what he was doing. He grabbed his car key and went out.
He arrived at the restaurant and went to the Head Waitress giving his name for the reservation. The girl showed him to the table. He sat and waited for his boy who should be arriving any moment, as beforehand was settled. While he waited, he ordered a red wine bottle, Quinta do Noval Douro, 2007 Reserve. He tapped his fingers on the table as well as he watched his watch. He was getting impatient because it was twenty-five minutes past the settled time. Thirty. Forty. Andrade was getting annoyed. The restaurant was filled with couples and he was feeling abandoned and lonely in the crowd. He tapped his foot. It was past an hour.
What annoyed him the most was the waiter that kept asking if he wanted the menu? He wiped his mouth to the napkin. He felt like crying, feeling abused.
He finally saw the expected figure of Zé talking to the Head Waitress. Dressed like an angel, Zé was looking for his mate in the crowd. Finally, he spotted Andrade’s hand waving at him. The older man’s heart pumped with joy.
– I am sorry… I had to visit a store! – said Zé.
Andrade couldn’t already remember how nervous he was feeling while he waited. He stood up and offered his hand to greet the boy.
– No such thing… – as he said this, Zé bent over him and gently kissed his lips. Andrade was astonished and exhilarating at the same time. He sat and gulped. He didn’t look at the gifts and nobody cared for what was happening at that table.
– You have been drinking… – mocked Zé, smiling at him. At the same time he put his hand in his pocket and took a little wrap. A really tiny wrap.
– Take it. It’s for you. That’s why I took so long.
Andrade took the little wrap and took a tie pin from it.
-Thank you… I didn’t buy you anything… my head!…
– You don’t have to give me anything… you gave me a soul.
They chatted all dinner long until the moment Zé started telling jokes.
Andrade laughed out loud at the faces the boy was making. He laughed so much that he wetted his pants. Ashamed, he told it to Zé.
– No problem. It just means you are happy.
– Your’re crazy! Now, as soon as I stand up everybody will look at me and laugh! How ashamed I am… I will look ridiculous.
José waved his head. He took half a glass of water from the table and poured it into his own trousers. He stood up and offered him his hand.
– Come on, we will share the ridiculousness.
Photo: Sérgio Moreira
Text: Adão Baptista
Eugénia ran to her radio set . She turned it on and looked for a station that would play music of her liking.
– The music these days is pure crap! Just noise… then they say that it is Dance or what they call it… can you ever dance to that? Oh, my God, how I miss dancing a waltz! How I would like to dance a nice waltz with my Moreira. God rest his soul. He danced the waltz so well. Since he passed, I haven’t danced anymore! Oh those balls…
The widow remembered the happiest moments of her youth. Time, as well as the dementia which stroke her, took care of destroying some of her memories, but Eugénia still kept some glimpses of those past joys.
In the moments of greater lucidity in her life as a widow, Eugénia regretted not having had any children. Loneliness would frighten her for some moments but the fact of having a high wall to divide reality from fantasy, past from present, made those rags of nostalgia really short.
She was getting upset because no music was good for her. The old radio, a wedding gift from her cousin Aurora, also deceased already, still worked very well but just didn’t play good music.
Eugénia sat on the armchair in the living room. Her cat, the only companion during the last years rubbed on her legs but she didn’t pay attention. She got up and kicked the cat.
– Get away dam beast.
She walked to the kitchen and put the kettle on the stove heating some water. She opened the china cabinet and took the teapot and two cups, which she saved from her wedding trousseau. She put the hot water on the teapot and prepared to make the lime infusion.
– Moreira… Moreira, it’s tea time. Where the hell is the man? – she took a sip from her tea.
Astonished and looking stupid, the cat looked at her with suspicion,
– Come on, Mimi, jump to my lap. – she took the cat and started petting her. – We are good friends, yes we are…
It was three o’clock p.m. and the news began.
– Good afternoon. The president of the United States, Ronald Reagan suggested the creation of an anti-missile shield. This shield will use laser to intercept Soviet missiles launched against American territory. However, Reagan defends that this project will be merely defensive. In Brasil the campaign for direct elections goes on. The Brasilian people claim for democracy in the streets. Portugal is preparing to receive the second intervention by the IMF in its history. Yesterday, the prime-minister, Mário Soares, in his parliament speech made public that because of an unemployment rate of 11% and an uncontrollable external debt, due to international interest rates, it is necessary to have a new IMF intervention to help Portugal get out of the economic crisis.
– What the hell? I don’t give a dam to that. Can’t they say anything about the health of Salazar? This is a lost world… – she cursed.
She threw the cat to the ground.
– Get out dam beast…
She went to the mirror hanging on the wall, opened the box of powder and started powdering her wrinkled face with soft and gentle movements.
– Dam music! I wish I could listen to a tango… – she stood in the middle of the room motionless.
Oh, tango… José danced tango so well! He was so stiff. My blood boiled when I danced a tango in his arms! And how I rejoiced and bled in our first time… it was so good…
Eugénia lifted her skirt and started touching her vulva. She was groaning softly as she made circular movements with her middle finger from the right hand. The left hand held the skirt up.
– Oh, José, how I liked being under your weight… José, my José, my love… stick it in, stick it.
Breathing heavily, she let herself fall onto the armchair and stood there for some minutes. She recovered and looked at the door. She mumbled to her cat:
– Do you think Moreira has heard that? God forbid… the trouble I had to bleed the first time with him. If he knew… Come here, Lili, don’t tell Moreira! We are good friends, good friends…
The radio speaker announced a first playing on Portuguese radio of some piece of music. It was a great hit in the States, sung by a young girl named Samantha Fox and ‘Touch Me’ started playing.
With a sudden movement, Eugénia threw the cat to the ground and started jumping.
Photo: Sérgio Moreira
Text: Adão Baptista
What about me?
As soon as Roberto hung the phone, he ran out of the office. He jumped into the car and went to meet his son. That call could even have ended that man’s life. He didn’t mind the traffic. He couldn’t see anything at the moment, just a straight line leading to Hospital Santa Maria. The traffic light was red but it didn’t get to make him slow down because he still had some ten kilometres ahead. He just ignored it and went through.
Arriving at the site, he parked on a zebra crosswalk. He jumped out of the car and went to the emergency information desk.
– I’d like to know about a young man who checked in. He had an accident…
– Name, please! – said the clerk.
– Roberto Vieira.
– No one with that name checked in here….
– No, that’s my name!
– Patient’s name, please.
– Filipe Vieira… he is my son.
– Here he is. He came in an ambulance. Wait a moment, please. Someone will come for you.
Roberto waited. Twenty minutes after a medic help came from the hall.
Filipe Vieira’s family member… – Roberto ran to her.
– Tell me doctor, is my son OK?
– I am no doctor. Wait here. A doctor will come here to talk to you.
Roberto started to despair. In his job as a lawyer he didn’t get so many “wait here”. Each waiting moment lasted an eternity.
– Are you family to Filipe Vieira? – asked a young man in white coat with a stethoscope hanging around the neck.
– Yes, I am the father, doctor… is he OK?
– Come with me, please!
With fast steps, he went after the young doctor. As he was walking, his mind was showing him images of his son with disfigured face, open fractures… fearful images.
He came into the room with his heart pumping so quickly that almost burst out of the chest. He was astonished when he looked at his son.
– Hey, dad! Are you here? What did you come for? – asked Filipe.
– But… they called from school to my office telling you had had an accident!
– Yeah, I fainted and then I threw up. Quite an accident! – the young man laughed. Roberto didn’t understand what had happened.
– Was it something he ate at school, doctor? – the man asked the doctor that was present.
– I don’t think so – the doctor answered with a sarcastic smile. – It was really something he drank and smoked! If it was at school, only he can say! You can take him with you, because I have already released him.
Seeing the shame on Roberto’s face, the doctor explained:
– He drank alcohol and must have smoked grass, or weed as they call it. He must have exaggerated and started hallucinating, he had a convulsion and started vomiting. He was dehydrated and ended up fainting. He has been taking some saline and will soon recover. Don’t worry.
– What have you done, Filipe Luís? – he asked desperately.
– Hey, come on! Take it easy, man… it was just a bad trip, you know! – The young man laughed again.
– Are you insane? What will your mother think? What will I say at the office when my workmates get to know about this?
– You see?… That’s your only worry… what will they think… what will I say… what about me, dad? What about me? Don’t you want to know why I did this? Don’t you worry to know if I am OK? How long did you stop worrying about me?
– I work as a slave for you to have everything… – Filipe interrupted his father.
That is exactly the problem, dad! You work for me to have everything and I don’t have anything, you know? Anything!
When he understood his authoritarian speech wasn’t having a good result, Roberto took a deep breath, loosened his tie and sat at the bed where Filipe was lying. He looked at the son. The young man’s bloodshot eyes, half-opened, worked as an alert for his father and he understood something was very wrong. It was a call for help.
– Tell me what’s happened.
– It doesn’t work that way! You can’t come and ask me to tell you… – Filipe started crying. The tears that ran down his cheeks alerted the father and took the cover of a tough lawyer down. The same cover that tried to understand what was going on.
– It’s Júlia, dad… – the boy said.
– Who is… sorry, go on!
– It is a girl from school. I have been crazy for her since last year. Some days, she notices me, some days she ignores me completely and even mocks me. I don’t know what to do. I do her homework sometimes, I give her money, so that she can buy cakes and some soda at the bar and she…
– Oh, son. That’s not how…
– You know, for more than a year, I do it and always pamper her doing her stuff. It is I who goes to Casal Ventoso to get her drugs and all that but she doesn’t like me anyway, I have no value for her. She only comes to me when she needs something or she is broke, without money. – he cried uncontrolledly for some seconds. – Life is shit! She never kissed me on the face and today she was behind the building kissing some guys…
Roberto caressed his son’s head, feeling his hair.
– Calm down, Pipinho. Everything will be OK! – he tried.
– Do you think, dad?
– Of course! Is that girl worth all your suffering? Come on, come with me to the car and we will have lunch together. I won’t go back to the office today. Today I will walk and talk with my son. Come on, my car is in front of the entry.
When they arrived at the place where the car was, they saw the police towing his car because it was parked on a zebra crosswalk.
They both laughed out loud.
Photo: Sérgio Moreira
Text: Adão Baptista
Laura looked at the cake shelf. Eating one or two was indifferent; she had only eaten three for breakfast. The Berliners with their yellow cream were asking the girl to be eaten. She called the waitress.
– Two Berliners and a coke, please.
– Of course.
With the tray in hand the waitress brought the continuance of Laura’s tea. Her eyes gleamed with joy. She opened her mouth and stuck her teeth deep in one of the cakes. Her lips were covered with sugar. She licked them, cleaned them to a tissue and sipped her coke.
She noticed a couple sitting next to her and observing her as if contemplating a work of art or even a freak of nature. Laura was used to be looked at in a different manner. Her one hundred and twelve kilograms worked as an attraction to the eyes all around. As the years went by the eyes started not to bother her . She even used to joke with the subject or ask “What? Haven’t you ever seen a fat girl before?” Then she would laugh at their faces. She used to think that she was fat but cheerful.
Annoyed by the stare, she told the couple:
– What? Haven’t seen it before? – and laughed at their faces.
Already grabbing the second Berliner, she noticed a group of three youths hanging around in the street. One was eating an apple. Passing by a rubbish bin the girl threw half apple into it.
Cheesy girl… – thought Laura – with a body like that and only eats half an apple… she could get fatter, stupid. That’s why she has got her sick looks and the skinny legs.
Without understanding why, Laura was invaded by a sudden sadness. She became aware that she had no friends, which forced her to talk to herself, to create imaginary characters in order to have someone to let off some steam . She would like to have friends, to be able to walk with them, go to discos, talk about boys and so. After all she was just a twenty-three-year-old girl, with just some extra kilograms.
She was fed up with listening to her father tell her to take care of what she ate, that she could have a stroke. Worse than that was her mother’s indifference, as if she had given up scolding her.
Laura would like to get a boyfriend. She would buy magazines and start to imagine her own prince charming. Although she knew it was difficult, she kept her dream of finding a man to love her as she is. She wanted to get married. She was bored of secretly having sex with the condominium administrator in her building. She could only do it secretly, quickly and always afraid that his wife could show up. She was fed up with having sex at storages and garages. She deserved better. Furthermore, he was nearly thirty years older than her and a friend of her father’s.
She was fed up with the way people looked at her. She felt badly. Despite all her glossing over and the jokes, she reckoned nobody took her for a human being. Just the fat one. Even Mr José didn’t give her the deserved value. He just looked for her in heat. She decided to change her life, to make herself be respected, be valued as a person, not as “the fat one”.
– Please… – she called the waitress – a coffee and two Belém cakes. And the check, please.
After paying, she took her coffee and was preparing herself to stick her teeth into the first piece of pastry, she noticed a beggar on the street. She stopped and stared at the man with white beard and dirty face, tanned by frost and heat imposed by the streets. Passing by the rubbish bin, the man took the half apple left there and started eating it as if it were the most sublime meal of the gods. Laura thought “the skinny one shared her apple with this man”…
She felt a heavy conscience. She considered that things don’t happen by hazard. She felt badly for not remembering having shared something with someone. She lost her appetite, although the Belém cakes looked wonderfully.
“I must share” – Laura thought.
Leaving the pastry on the dish, she grabbed her purse and off she went.
“I’ll see what Mr José is doing” – she thought.
Photo: Sérgio Moreira
Text: Adão Baptista
– “I’ll be whoever you want! – Rita said to the man she was going to lie down with. Just another one. She closed the door. Nothing was strange to her since the place had already been rented by her. It really was a part of her working space.
She took her turquoise blue silk dress of and laid it gently on the chair so as not to crease it. She ran the fingers through her hair. Feminine fragility was pouring out of her skin. With subtle movements she took her panty hose off. The man was motionless on the edge of the bed of that room rented for the action which was about to take place. Rita looked at him. The suit perfectly ironed and the white shirt gave him a very clean look.
Rita was improving her body movement to justify the price. The gentle movements made her slim body fly through the calmness that reigned in the room. All the drama hid how nervous the young lady was. After all it was a new client. The man seemed to be around fifty years old, although seeming trustful, Rita knew appearances can be misleading.
She looked at the wedding ring on the finger.
– What is that you want?
The man took off his glasses and cleaned them with a fine cloth handkerchief.
– I don’t know very well… What are you used to do? – he asked shyly. The girl smiled and answered with another question:
– How much are you used to pay?
– Are you expensive?
– I’m good… things have high prices! Fifty euros for vaginal intercourse, on hundred for full service.
The man dared to look at her. He was seated without undressing any clothes. His silence was disturbing Rita.
– What do you wish?
The man opened his leather case and took his wallet from which he took five bills of twenty euros. Rita took them to her purse. With a soft movement, she untied her bra. Her little firm breasts, either because of the cold or because of something else, were available to his lips. He stood motionless. With the right hand, he loosened the brown tie that seemed a gallows rope. The girl was confused. His breath was becoming afflictive. Without a clue on how to act, the girl sat by his side, put a hand on his shoulder in order to tranquilise him.
– Relax, stay cool. Tell me, is it the first time you pay for sex? Is it some fantasy you are ashamed to ask?
The man stared at her. The stare scared her.
He took the case and opened it. The girl moved away with some fear. Her anxious eyes followed the man’s movements. She was relieved to see an average size dildo the man took from the case.
She felt like laughing loudly. The guy should be impotent or maybe…
-Can you stick it in? – he interrupted her thoughts. Rita laughed.
– You naughty boy… so much mystery and all you want is me to play with that!
The man sweated a lot. He took off his trousers and the briefs and jumped onto the bed with his back upwards.
– Be gentle! Don’t stick it on me too hard! – he warned.
Photo: Sérgio Moreira
Text: Adão Baptista