If it’s not written on the page, I don't know what you're saying –Daryl Edelman
A month went by. Dave didn’t answer me. I always thought a duty of an educated man is to answer to his affairs. What kind of manner is his? Is it in college where this kind of lesson not to answer is taught? I didn’t give up though. So far, he had not said no to me, and I didn’t understand what his silence meant. I’m not endowed with the power to read minds and decipher unwritten cold codes from a friendly person.
You may say, dear reader, all this because he is Dave Eggers and famous, and I say, it’s true. That’s exactly why I wrote him a letter calling for help in the first place. I’d not ask such a thing of someone less charitable, who was not a great writer plus a noble philanthropist and publisher. Would you?
I needed to persevere. My goal is get my novel published and from there contribute to the brilliance of life. I learned however that it is said in the literary world in New York that a person who thinks they will change anything in this world with words is a deluded person, but I know that thinking and words are man’s power, and it is exactly with thinking and words that we can relate to each other.
I had to set aside the horrible feeling of humiliation and create another e-mail to send to Dave. I had to try to fix whatever wrong he thought I did, and be pardoned. Maybe I’d put the man back in a good mood toward me once more. I wrote:
----- Original Message -----
From: Regina Edelman
To: Dave Eggers
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2008 7:55 PM
Subject: Re: Great letter
Are you ignoring me? Please allow me to explain that I'm an innocent person, so innocent, Dave, that you're the only one I gave a letter to after I finished my work, and that after I got your reply to the letter I handed you, I didn’t send to anyone else, innocently waiting 5 months for you alone. My husband asked me why I was crying when I received my copyright for Garments of Fleas in the mail, and I told him that I doubted the Library of Congress would accept my work. He was surprised at my naïveté. When I got your reply in December, you had no time to read my manuscript yet, and of course I was depressed by your answer. I'm sorry if I offended you in any way, which was not my intention. I'm confused why I might be cast aside after our friendly correspondence. I innocently don’t know what I could have possibly done to deserve to be ignored after you held my hopes that you would read my work.
Below I pasted another few pages for you to see my worth. Thank you for your time.
excerpt from Garments of Fleas
©2009 Regina Edelman
The rain just stopped as I entered fourth in line to shower. Later, I dressed in a new pair of jeans, purple shirt, tennis shoes, and smeared my lips with red lipstick. I took the bus to meet my friends in Quiririm. Tana had delivered a message for me at the office that Dores needed to talk to me, and for me to please go meet them this weekend. The ghost Pai Tomé would attend. I was tempted to deny the invitation, but I had been curious to meet the spirit since she told me how the marvelous wraith had descended to earth.
The moon scintillated red like a horn in the western sky. The evening freshened after the storm in the afternoon, smelling of soil and wet leaves. Our bus traveled a narrow dirty road between little pink and blue houses adorned in primrose. Coca-Cola advertisements popped on billboards in front of square red brick buildings. Fields extended green, and bloomed with little yellow daises. I heard crickets punctuate the bus engine’s hum.
The evening sky was tinged pink and the surrounding mountains purple when I stepped off the bus onto the main church plaza. An amusement park sprang confused there, announcing fantastic aberrations of mother nature.
“The baby girl snake! Come to see! The incredible man without eyes who can read Shakespeare! The woman gorilla! The razor-eating man…”
Their figures were drawn scary on canvas walls. I wondered if the baby wrapped in bandages like a mummy girl was just a miserable being tragically without arms and legs.
Happy bodies dressed in white and pink packed the Ferris wheel. Popcorn and sawdust rose in the air. Roberto Carlos sang Nas Curvas da Estrada de Santos muffled through loud speakers.
I walked south down the dirty road. Horses pastured in the middle of the avenue. I turned right. There is the tip of Angel’s underground house.
“Hi, everyone!” I shouted when Tana openend the gate for me.
“Tana, you grew. You look beautiful!” I said. She smiled.
I saw Dores’ splendid smile at the door. There were a few steps to go down to enter the house.
“Regina, I thought you would never come tonight,” Dores welcomed me happier than usual, confident of her charm and beauty. She had blown her hair, which fell brown like a cascade to her round shoulders, and shiny like a piece of the reflected evening moon. She wore a sky blue mini-top in white overalls.
I kept my hair short to hide my curls. Dona Hebe helped me believe that long curly hair wasn’t agreeable to others’ eyes, and since that charitable lady cut my hair, I kept it short. I didn’t keep the deluded charitable lady as my hairdresser however. I was poor, not a loony bin fugitive.
“Do you like my hair?” Dores asked, shaking her head.
“Yes, you’re very pretty.”
“Why did you come so late, Regina?” she asked.
“Am I late? I don’t know. The storm made me late, I think.”
“I’m in love, Regina” she said, grinning.
“You are? Tell me all about it.”
“Hi, Regina. I like your shirt,” Angel welcomed as I stepped into the ammonia smelly hair salon. Three ladies waited inside hair driers while Angel manicured one of them.
“Thanks, you look pretty too. Actually you bloomed prettier since Sergeant Juca left,” I said.
“No, I’m the same. I still suffer the disgrace of my bad marriage,” Angel said, exerting to expose the suffering she habitually carried in her soul, but her dark eyes contradicted her words. I’d say she was in love like Dores.
“How the kids doing?”
“Who are you in love with?” I asked Dores.
“You don’t know him. His name is Dimas. He is my Italian lover, but everything isn’t perfect.”
“Huh? What’s the problem? Zefa forbade you to fall in love?” I said, prejudice of her mother.
“No, Jesus, no! Mom don’t even know I’m in love. No, Dimas, my love, has a fiancé. It will be my end if mom knows that. The problem is that his fiancé plans to marry him next year in May. I’ll tell you everything about him. We’ll meet him later.”
“Girls, go talk in the back of the house. I don’t want the customers listening to this conversation,” Angel said.
“They can’t hear anything inside the hair dryer,” Tana said.
“Yes, but I don’t want to take a risk, and you guys know Zé Mané might show up to check on us at mom’s request,” Angel said.
O that brother and mother of their’s still doing those stupid inspections, I thought. Maybe that’s why I didn’t really want to come here tonight. Dores had not asked a question about me so far.
We paced to the back of the narrow red brick house across waxed red cement floors covered with clean scrap rugs.
The bell behind the gate rattled.
“Girls, girls! It’s Zé Mané!” Tana ran with a broom in hand, announcing their brother as Angel predicted. Tana gave Dores a broom.
“Put this broom upside down behind the door so he will go away soon,” Tana advised.
“Rush under Angel’s bed, Regina. Don’t’ breathe. Don’t move,” Dores pleaded, whispering. She put the broom upside down behind the bedroom door, and rushed back to the front of the house.
If I wanted to keep my friendship with Dores, I understood for a long time that the harder sacrifice must be on my part, and like a criminal, I rushed under the bed as ordered in the name of love and our friendship. The shopping bag in which I carried my pajamas and tooth brush, I squeezed tight like a treasure in my arm between my chest and the cold cement floor.
My mouth dried. I was nervous. That position was horrible. The house was dark, the window in the bedroom closed. I smelled dust, food, wax, and eucalyptis disinfect jumbled with soap that didn’t exactly cover the dump odor from the bathroom next door.
My eyes searched the dark. My ears caught Zé Mané’s grave voice growing closer and bigger. I imagined his tone matched a pair of wicked eyes, carefully inspecting each corner of his sister’s narrow house.
A light switched on in the living room. A sneeze started to develop in my brain right when legs start to cross the bedroom door. I grasped the sneeze…grasp…grasping with all my power. I wished not to sneeze, fought hard instants against an explosion, and successfully dominated it.
I bet that would cause my end. Dores’ brother is the crudest of all beings on earth. Not that the young man ever did me any harm, but I thought he was cruel and mean because he didn’t like me.
Heart jumping anxiously, I couldn’t hear clearly what they said. A light switched on in the kitchen. All the sisters attended their brother.
“I’m not going out. Don’t you see I’m exhausted? I still have two more manicures to do, and two more heads to dress,” I heard Angel when I could calm the beating of my scared heart a little.
“Mama is concerned you have a boy friend. You can’t give bad examples to your children and our sisters,” Zé Mané said.
Chairs pulled, legs filled under the table in the kitchen.
“Mama doesn’t need to worry. I don’t have any man in my life,” Angel said.
“Mama doesn’t want Dores and Tana on the loose around town.”
“Dores is busy in the salon with me. Tana babysits my children. They sleep now, but they will wake, and till they sleep again it will be past ten. Nobody will leave this house. We’re going to have pizza and play cards before bed.”
“Mama wants Dores and Tana at Sunday morning mass.”
“They’ll be there. Don’t worry. Tell mama.”
“Where is big Elga’s daughter? Mom thinks she sneaks around Dores somehow.”
“I don’t know where Elga’s daughter is.”
“Mom don’t want them together. That girl’s worthless.”
“I’m aware of it. She isn’t with us. Don’t worry,” Dores said.
“I’m going to finish the customers’ hair,” Angel said, and left back to her beauty salon.
A few minutes of silence followed. I observed Tana’s legs swinging nervously under the table.
“Do you want a beer?” Dores asked.
“Yes, please,” he answered. “But let me go to the bathroom first.” He stood up, and his legs in yellow canvas and brown half-boots walked slowly my way. I froze. The booted legs turned right and disappeared.
His urine gushed for maybe thirty seconds, then he was out. His legs came to the bedroom doorway and stopped. He turned the light on. My soul shrank in panic. He suddenly looked behind the door, nobody there, but the broom spell Dores cast to make him go away sooner. The broom menaced to fall. My heart pounded. He caught the broom before it reached the floor.
How fast and smart he was! How lucky I was! I chuckled. No, no breathing please, please, I warned myself.
“May I pour the beer for you, Zé Mané?” Dores asked. I heard a slight quivering in her voice.
“Yes,” he said, and put the broom back behind the door, turned the light off, and left to the kitchen, slowly pounding the heels of his crude boots.
I quivered. I had no idea what might happen if he sniffed me out under the bed. Would he yank me out violently? I hadn’t thought of any explanation to redeem myself for my crime if my luck ran out.
His inspections seemed like forever while I waited wormy-like under the bed, but truly only took around half an hour. He didn’t want to be a baby sitter to his sisters a whole Saturday night. We all knew that.
They left the kitchen to the front door.
“Mama wants you and Tana back home tomorrow no later than five o’clock in the afternoon,” he warned before he left.
“Regina, Regina, you can come out from under the bed now,” Dores called as soon as she presumed it was safe. “I saw my brother take a bus back to Taubaté. He will not come back today. He was dying to leave to party with his friends and girls. I know my brother. We’re free!”
Demure, humiliated, depressed as mom said, in grief for each piece of my being, I slid from under the bed, and stood brushing the dust with my hands from my new clothes. How low did I need to go for a human friend? I meditated deeply on this for the first time while my eyes followed my hands down, dusting my clothes and tennis shoes.
“Don’t cry, Regina,” Tana said, seeing my pain.
“You’re not going to cry on me, are you, Regina?” Dores said. “O, come on, let’s enjoy. Come help us in the salon. We are going to the amusement park later.”
An hour later we’re on top of the Ferris wheel in the amusement park, screaming, afraid of the height. Angel gave us two hours before we had to come back home. After an hour in the amusement park, Dores’ new forbidden Italian boy friend, Dimas, picked us up in his yellow Volkswagen Brasilia at the church corner. He was tall, skinny, dark, with a long nose on his narrow face, not quite handsome, but very charming. His hair shiny-black, long until the neck, fell thick and smooth parted in the center of his head.
He smiled nicely for Tana and I as we stepped in the back seat of his car. He sat his lady in the front, sat inside, and turned thirsty for a hot French kiss they exchanged for long instants.
Tana and I watched the sinners. I was sick with jealousy, wisher of a lover too.
“You’re ten minutes late, Dimas,” Dores said, and pulled from his arms. “Your fiancé don’t enfranchise her man earlier on Saturdays?” she said scornfully, though her eyes smiled amused.
“Sorry, I couldn’t get rid of her earlier,” he said, amused too.
“I don’t believe you. You love her more than you love me,” she said in a tone of untrue indignation.
“O, don’t cry, baby, I love you more,” Dimas said, and then more kisses, long French kisses.
“We can’t be kissing in public,” Dores said lovingly to break their wild voluptuousness.
“Okay, lets go.”
“Did you bring beer?”
His car stilled on a small dark deserted dirt road under the stars. Tana and I sat outside on the ground in front of the car. We both admired the light of the constellations, drinking beer, and singing Like Our Fathers loud like savages of the dark together with Elis Regina even louder on the tape player of the shaking car. Our voices dove deep in the waves of empty space on the dark road, and echoed far, far away.
“We care less that we don’t see our loud annoyance. We are an immature force of nature who might even move those simmering stars,” I pushed a conversation with Tana.
“I’m ignorant and selfish for beer,” Tana answered, and we shouted the lyrics: My pain is to perceive in spite of all we did when we were young, we are still the same like our fathers, our idols still the same…
The lyrics sounded proud and hopeless, but I knew that I didn’want to be like my father or mother, and share their idols.
“Sometimes I think I’d like to leave home like you did, Regina,” Tana said thoughtfully.
“Why? I thought you loved your mother and home. You once said you didn’t want to be away from home.”
“I don’t know. I grew since then. My ideas about staying home with mom changed.”
“Well, you can have whatever you want.”
“How do you feel away from big Elga and your home?”
“From mom, relieved, though I don’t truly think I’m away from home yet, but I’ll be soon. I’m planning to move to São Paulo my first opportunity, and I won’t ever come back.”
Tana stared. “When? How? Do you know where to go there?”
“When, I don’t know. How, I don’t know. Something will happen at the right time and bring me there. Where to go, I don’t have a place yet.”
“Wow! I know you will go. I know you’re courageous!”
“Girls! Come inside the car. It’s time to go back,” Dores called.
Tana and I jumped happy to the back of the car. The car smelled…what? Some fishy smell, new for me, unknown erogenous zone instincts aroused. Our party went laughing. We parked in front of the house down hill at the cross road. French kisses goodbye with no ending, tongues sucking. Jealousy consumed me.
“I have to go, goodbye,” Dores said firmly, and freed Tana and I from the back seat.
“Nine o’clock on the dot,” Dores said, watching the time on her Mickey Mouse watch, and unlocked the gate to the underground house. She was a responsible girl, and I sincerely admired her correctness and loyalty to her family.
A man with ardent black eyes, dark skin, and slim medium stature was in Angel’s beauty salon. He held a mug of vinho. They smiled seductively to each other. “My friend, Julião, came to visit me,” Angel said, “but he is leaving at this moment, right?”
The feeble candle lights proposed romance. If the lights were brighter I’d say she blushed introducing her friend. She was in love when the ardent eyes of the dark stranger smiled to us. He kissed Angel’s hands, respectful-like, then left.
Angel sighed, then gaily announced, “Pizza! Let’s have pizza! And get prepared for our umbanda mass. Pai Tomé will come down tonight. He sent me a message he is on the way down at eleven-thirty to advise, and is hungry for fried chicken.”
“How do you know he wants to eat fried chicken?” Tana asked suspiciously.
“I heard a whispering, a list of what he wants to enjoy tonight. Fried chicken was on the list.”
“The ghost eats fried chicken?” I asked.
Tana mocked, “Our ghost does, uuuuuuuu!”
“Not fun, Tana! No fun!” Dores reproached her sister as we entered in the small dimly lit kitchen with a long pine table, six chairs around. On top of the table was a bowl with lots of chicken marinated to fry, and a tray with mozzarella pizza ready to eat. Since I moved from Hebe’s home, I had became skinny again. I bit my pizza slice hungrily.
“He also smokes cigars, eats hot devil peppers, and drinks cachaça,” Angel said as she prepared a black iron pot with lots of vegetable oil to heat on the stove.
“He does?” I said. She threw the chicken in the pot of hot oil, sizzling a fabulous smell.
“Yes, he does. which are all in the cupboard inside a calabash shell and an osier basket. Close your mouth, Regina,” she said, and pointed to the white rusted cupboard on the wall next to the table.
“Get everything there, Dores, and prepare the altar in the living room for his reception. The candles are there too. The rug he likes is in my bedroom in my first dresser drawer together with the rosario. Leave the calabash here on the kitchen table. I’ll need it,” Angel said.
“Wow! I can’t wait to talk to him. I’m sure I love Dimas, Angel! I’m sure! And I plan to have the man all to myself,” Dores said passionately, always smiling. She changed her high heel anabelas for yellow havaina flip-flops.
“I’m sure Pai Tomé has some good to tell you, Dores,” Angel said. “What about you, Regina, needy of advise too?”
“No, not really. I left mom’s home, and live with thirteen girls. I have a new job as a secretary. Everything is wonderful. There is nothing to ask.”
First conversation about my being since I arrived.
Dores and I worked to assemble the altar in the living room.
“Are you afraid a divine spirit will condemn you because you left big Elga in a lurch?”
“No, that isn’t true. Mom is an individual. I’m another. Both of us, very poor and ignorant. We won’t accomplish anything together.”
“What do you want, Regina?”
“I don’t know, have knowledge, see more, I think.”
“But you left school!”
“But you left school too. You’re not going to college, are you?”
“No, what do you mean?”
“Shh, kids, don’t wake the children, or we won’t have umbanda tonight,” Angel said mysteriously, coming from the kitchen with the calabash full of golden fried chicken sprinkled with parsley. She placed it on the altar. Her advise came gentle to cool my almost heated conversation with Dores. She enigmatically arranged the hot devil peppers in the osier basket and went away.
I pondered my thoughts, Dores seemed to do the same. Sitting on a morsel carpet on the floor, we stared to the ritual altar: black and red candles, incense, cigars, matches, a bottle of cachaça and a shot glass, demon finger hot peppers inside the osier basket, and the fried chicken in the calabash shell. A huge rosario surrounded everything. Across the wall from the square clock hung a cross of old Jesus’ stoned head, bent, and dead.
“It’s a sin to talk the way you talk about your mother,” Dores whispered.
I shrugged. We sat cross-legged in front of the altar. Tana laid on the sofa, blinking hard to pretend she was not sleepy, but would sleep any instant.
Angel came back wearing a dark navy blue shirt three times her size, and jeans as big, held by a man’s black leather belt. She walked barefoot to the altar, her palms open to heaven, her eyes closed, then stood there meditating. Her body sprang slowly. She kicked one leg three times like a horse. Her sweet smile blurred ugly and angry. Her nose seemed doubled the size, and curved down. An unfit gloomy mug sat in her delicate face. It seemed like she developed a face of an old cranky man like grandpa. He looked mindlessly into a nowhere point. Angelic Angel didn’t look like that thing. The spirit has her!
At that moment, I couldn’t think of much but run at the sight of that bizarre transformation in case that hoary host decided to attack me, but the soul-ghost moved slowly, seemingly pacific like Angel. He lit the candles and incense with the matches. He picked a red candle, and whirled it around his body (I mean, Angel’s body), then whirled the candles around Dores and me. Tana dropped fatally asleep. The spirit didn’t bother her, and whirled the candle around the room, moaning forms of prayer. The ghost repeated the same steps with the black candle, then opened the bottle of cachaça. He poured the cachaça, and shot the harsh drink down the gullet. He poured another shot, and gave it to Dores. She shot it down. He poured another shot and gave it to me. I refused. He sat cross-legged like Dores and me, and left the full shot glass on the floor on his right side.
“My horse’s hair needs to be tied, moreca,” he pronounced awkward Portuguese sounding like Spanish perhaps in a feigned thick voice of an old man. I can’t say if it was Spanish, I didn’t know if the word moreca in Spanish meant morena in Portuguese, which means brunette in English, which was Dores’ color.
“Get a rubber band for me in the hair salon, Regina.”
I rushed to the salon, curious. I got back, gave her the rubber band, and she made a ponytail of Angel’s hair, I meant, on his horse.
“Thank you, moreca. This horse of mine don’t understand I don’t like hair all over my face,” he said. Dores giggled.
“How have you been, moreca?” the spirit asked amiably.
“Ah, Pai, I’m in love!”
“It’s wonderful. Why the face of a discontent then?”
“My lover has a fiancé. I don’t have him all for myself. Does he love me, Pai?” Dores asked, concerned.
The spirit didn’t let us see his eyes. He simply didn’t raise them. He quietly traced his left index in complex invisible lines on the floor. “Yes, he loves you,” he said after a while.
Dores’ lips stretched in a smile.
I sighed, happy for her.
“Why doesn’t he love only me then?”
The ghost studied the invisible map on the red floor once more. “I’m in power to change the destination reserved for you—If you think he’s faithful to be your love, and insist on him as the right man for your future,” he said.
“Yes, I want him, my first love,” she said, nodding.
“If so, here is what you must do when the full moon will rise on a Friday night. What you have to do is some hard work, but without hard work it is almost impossible to fulfill a wish, moreca,” the umbanda entity spoke. “The night must be clear, ornamented with stars. At six in the evening, you must wear red lace panties. Take your panties off at nine o’clock, and filter coffee through its breech. No later than ten, you must bring your intended inside this house, and give him a cup of coffee you filtered in the breech of your red laced panties.
“As he drinks the coffee, the breech of your red panties now dirty with coffee, must be exposed outside to the moon light. Don’t touch the panties until six the next morning, then take the panties from the night dew, wrap in pink tissue, and on the same day at eleven at night no matter if the sky is full of stars or starless, rain or no rain, you must take the panties in your left hand, hold them in a fist, bring with you to the closest crossroad you may find, and bring my horse with you, carrying: a poniard, a bouquet of yellow roses, a bottle of champagne, a champagne glass, and as many black and red candles as possible. My horse must arrange a pretty, lighted altar. The panties must be grasped firmly in your left fist. It’s important to keep the garment warmed of your blood. The poniard is to dig three inches under ground. Lay the panties in the hole. Bury it slowly, and as you bury it, firm your thoughts powerfully on your lover, wishing him only for you, forever.
“Then open the champagne. Pour some in the glass. Toast to your love. Drink three sips from the glass, and place it on the altar, and give the rest of the champagne in the glass and bottle to Maria Padilha, the Exu spirit for women with forbidden lovers as yours. She likes gifts from this mundane world.
“Close your eyes. Invoke your sensuality. Invoke Maria Padilha’s sensuality. She is a powerful sensual Exu from the night cabarets. She will attend you. Leave the crossroad a minute after midnight. Don’t look behind, don’t. Lost devils of the dark will be there to memorize your face. They will steal your soul if your face is seen, then you will see Lucifer, the king of darkness, and you will have your lover, but not all for you, and your life will proceed all backwards.” the unknown from heaven said.
“Damn, I should take notes. I won’t remember everything he said,” Dores said. She seemed drunk.
“I remember everything he said,” I said.
“No, I don’t think you have a good memory. How come you didn’t finish high school like I did.”
Long moments of silence went by. I thought that just because I didn’t know math, that didn’t mean that I didn’t have a good memory. I did have a good memory. I felt strange, intelligent, and stupid. We heard the ghost’s voice again afterwards.
“Light my cigar for me,” he asked me, and I worried the ghost could read my soul. I put the cigar between his lips. His bowed head didn’t move. The match quivered as I lit his cigar. He puffed, puffed, puffed. The cigar blazed.
“I need to see your hand,” he asked.
No, no, please, I don’t want to know anything negative about me, no, no, I thought, sweating. He will read I’ve even stolen. Dores forced my left palm to him. He studied it doubtfully.
I’m bad, very bad was all I could think because I thought the worst of myself: a rotten human being with no chance to succeed in life, undeserved of anyone to truly love me because I was a begger, because grandma cursed me. I didn’t like my family. My father was a drunkard. I hate Pero. I didn’t care where José might be. I don’t consider Marcus my brother. I can’t learn. I left home, and at that moment I didn’t want hear any truth about my misery and lone future on Earth, hoping he had no power to read my lost soul, to analyze my wishes only to find he couldn’t change my destiny so easy as he did for cute Dores. Shut up. Don’t talk to me, I screamed inside.
“Her memory is good,” he said calmly. “However, my horse has the power to repeat every word I said to you. Any worry is unnecessary, Moreca. Now, you, don’t you want anything?” he asked me.
I was shocked with his positive words about me.
“Don’t you have dreams?”
“No, not really!” I said.
“Regina dreams the impossible,” Dores spoke for me in mockery. “Deluded Regina thinks she can get rich working somehow.”
The ghost listened unmoved. Why does she talk about my dreams? I gave her no permission to talk for me. I wanted to yell at her, but lacked courage.
“I tell her it’s an impossible dream,” she went on. “I don’t desire such a thing for myself. No guys care about her. No, she won’t marry a rich man because there is an ocean that divides her from meeting the impossible rich him. She also wants to find who we are in the Universe, and help, and change, and throw lights in the dark mad cavities of the Universe, throw lights in men’s and women’s and other animals’ minds, whatever she means by that, but, but she’s quiet at school. All she knows is how to write, badly, and read,” she laughed, and I listened, hardened like a piece of wood in blaze. She was wrong. I knew how to type on the typewriter too, and I sold clothes. I read fine. I was curious, young, brave. I hated she told him my dreams, shallowly like that to make me look like a crazy being. He will laugh at me too. I hated she spoke for me, I hated, and I controlled an impetus to cry in front of the divine creature and her and shame my being. She didn’t pity my anguished eyes, and didn’t stop talking about things my little head thinks and what I say to her in conversation.
“Her weird dream is that she can have a sort of forever spirit like Galileo. I say she is philosophizing. I don’t even think she knows who Galileo is, honestly.”
I couldn’t hold myself. “You’re wrong. I know who Galileo was. He observed, observed, and proved Earth isn’t a motionlessness square rock like written in the sacred scriptures. It’s round like eyes and hearts of any living being, and in motion in space like Jupiter is. Galileo’s spirit is real and lives forever,” I said stubbornly.
“Nobody wants to know about that, but what God wrote in the sacred scriptures. It’s profane to contest God’s deeds. It’s scary to think our world is a rock that rolls in space,” she said, as her eyes walked between me and Pai Tomé. Her head shook, distured with me, or with alcohol.
“Earth is a rock that rolls in space, and isn’t a square rock motionlessness at the center of the Universe like the ancient scientists ruled, and this is the truth.”
The spirit mumbled. The cigar danced in his mouth. He turned to the altar, took a piece of fried chicken, one Horn Devil pepper, and ate fast with desperation.
So far he didn’t mutter a word of disdain for me.
He indifferently swallowed the cachaça on his side, and filled the small glass anew, which he offered Dores. She grabbed the glass and swallowed it like he did. She didn’t make any face to swallow the cheap sugar cane aguardente, and smiled larger, bright white teeth exposed to adorn the good-cool-easy-girl charismatic face loved by everyone at first sight.
He refilled the glass, and offered it to me.
“No, thanks. Cachaça makes me sick,” I said, and before I understood he cared less for how wicked I was, Dores spoke again.
“You can’t refuse what Pai Tomé offers,” she said.
“Sorry, it’s just because I don’t want to be sick.”
He nodded, then handed me a fried chicken leg and horn devil, and another to Dores. I only ate the chicken, and the conversation died drunk after the small banquet.
“Pray to our lord Jesus. He is the hope to light dark souls sunk in deep dark water,” he advised suddenly.
I took his advice personally. Well, so far Jesus hadn’t lit me. How would he, with his head covered in blood, the torn crown. He was killed, killed. Who would be so cruel if not primitive humans, bullies of man’s psyche, savage murdered brains, animals of mysterious Earth in motion in space somewhere, prisoners of the lights of a star. I refused to think God is like any one of us gathered here on Earth, late violent demented beasts, merciless of others’ pain as guardians of his sacred name and marvelous deed. God supposedly would like to keep his own creation alive forever. God supposedly knows our pain, but we are condemned to die like vile venomous scorpions.
Thank goodness that thing wasn’t able to read my dreams, I sighed. The unknown in front my eyes may be nothing other than Angel’s magnificent brain tricking two naïve passionate immature girls, one drunk
Staggering, the divine Mexican stood, eyes cast down like always. He meditated, and yanked, and plim! Woozy Angel is back to her normal features with sweet smile, serene eyes and everything. She loosened her hair and shook it.
“What did he do tonight?” she asked innocently.
“Doesn’t she remember anything? “I asked naively and stared. “Where were you?”
“I don’t know, to a gray state of mind. Let’s go sleep.”
“No, I feel so good I don’t want to sleep,” Dores slurred her speech.
“We must go to sleep now. Tana, Tana, let’s sleep in bed.”
Sunday I left Angel’s house with the decision to never come back to meet Dores in secret anymore. Why on Earth did I want to be depressed? Dores is part of the past.
What would I miss, amusement park loud speakers that rattle Nas Curvas da Estrada de Santos over and over in a piccolo town stuck in time?
Dust blew as the bus took off, and the lights of the delusional park lingered in dim slow motion far behind.
I dreamed Dave commanded five young men to look for my manuscript in a black hole in the basement of a dark house.
To be continued…