Sunday, July 19, 2009

Nobody to Denounce Papa in this House

by Regina Edelman

The old Municipal Civil Guard of São Paulo State was a corporation founded in 1906 to ostensibly patrol urban areas to protect citizens and their patrimonies. It was extinguished in 1964.

A door slammed. “Shut the fuck up, bitch!” a man half dressed in Municipal Guard uniform shouted. Broad back, arms strong as his long legs, Miguel Valente embroidered on the left breast pocket of his ultra-white shirt, his blue eyes drew taut with red little veins, his greased back hair the color of corn cob. A vapor of cheap aftershave exhaled off his enormous body. With one hand, he searched the pockets of his navy blue jacket with gold buttons. A suit and valise hung at his back by the forefinger of his other hand. Mouths slightly open, his daughter Inez and son Bruno watched him on the veranda.

“What are you mites looking at?” he asked fiercely, hands at his waist then, suit and valise slack at his side. Bashed by his angry volume, the two vanished inside the house. Satisfied his mites put their tails between their legs, he went ahead, jittery, his black shoes shining as much as the afternoon sun. His handcuffs clanked at his waist as he marched large strides toward his green ’57 Chevrolet parked in front of the three room home he was bitterly leaving. He opened the car door, slammed it, and shouted again, “I’m leaving you, bitch!” He turned the key in the ignition and the car roared, roared, roared, and finally took off coughing.

Deep sobbing came from inside the simple house. Sun rays intruded through a window and reddened the blue walls of the living room. The Great Dictator played on the mute TV. Diminished, huge Philomena sat sad on the edge of a sofa and held her discomforted head in her hands, fingering back her thin blond gray hair parted in the middle with a certain fury. Her small eyes like delicate rosary beads the color of the Mediterranean Sea were slick and red from tears rolling down her also inflamed cheeks. Her soft left arm was bruised from shoulder to elbow and both sorrowful eyes were in process of becoming plump and bruised too. A string of blood ran from her small lips down her shaking chin.

Inez and Bruno attended their hurt mother. Angry on her knees, seventeen year old Inez washed her mom’s face with a cotton cloth. Broad like her parents, her wide open marble green eyes betrayed no emotion. “You must let me go to Civil Guard quarters this time, mom, to report papa beat you because you ironed two shirts instead of three as he wanted. He can’t always beat you up like this. They’ll put him in jail,” she said.

“I know papa will find his way to kill you, mom, for denouncing him,” thirteen year old Bruno said shakily coming from the back room balancing a porcelain basin full of water with dancing ice cubes in his hands.

“I won’t denounce papa!” Philomena declared. She needed their father’s money every month because the trifle she made washing clothes for Palmeiras Soccer Team wouldn’t pay the bills and buy their food. “If papa goes to jail, who’ll pay the bills?” Philomena asked hopelessly.

Inez added some matters in her thoughts. “I have my first job as sales girl at Mappin Magazine Store. Little Bruno makes his wage packing food at the corner market. That and the money from your laundry business is enough for us to survive without papa’s income and violence. I’d give a fly’s shit if he rots in jail and drops dead in hell,” Inez said upset. “I’ll go with my fiancé to the precinct to report papa’s abuse and bring officers here to witness the bruises he left on your body, arms, and face, mama.”

Bruno shook his head in contempt and said, “Papa really terrorized me, but deep inside my heart I love him like I love delicious food. He shouldn’t be behind bars.”

“No, he shouldn’t!” Philomena agreed, grasping her dignity on Bruno’s words to get her mother strength back to protect her family by not sending her man to jail. “I can’t be the author of sending him to hell, or make him lose his job he’s proud of.”

Inez looked incredulous to her mother and brother. How dare they? He could not care less about her, about them. “Mom, the wino is angry. He beats us and fights wherever he goes. Nobody can talk or have any idea but him. Everyone’s afraid of him,” she declared, her eyes wild, immense, mysterious like all eyes of all beasts known on Earth.

“Nobody will denounce papa in this house!” was Philomena’s final verdict. “I’ll dry my tears and wait for him to come back for me when he feels like it. I hope he’ll come back like every other time.”

“I can’t understand this sick love. He has more women around town,” Inez said weakly.

“I don’t care. What my eyes can’t see my heart don’t feel so I don’t feel jealous.”

“Stubborn! Have some pride, mom! Have some pride! Have a woman’s pride!” Defeated and disgusted, Inez dropped the cloth she used to wipe her mother’s face in the basin and walked outside to wait for her fiancé.

Miguel Valente left to work a forty-eight hour shift that day, and on the evening he got off, he knocked on his concubine’s door on the other side of the city. Violet perfumed the air when the door was opened by a long haired brunette with Spaniard looks grinning seductively, chubby breasts squeezed in the V neck of her super tight pink blouse. Waist waste fat overflowed around her tight short skirt, but the lady was younger than poor Philomena, and she jumped on Miguel’s long neck, wrapping her legs around his knees, her humid large red lips open for a kiss. He bent forward to sustain her body.

“O baby! You missed papa, yes?” his voice such a sweet low baritone, he seemed madly in love to cause to any female on Earth to be jealous. Kisses crackled and red lipstick smeared their lips, but suddenly, Miguel’s irritation rang loud in his neurons’ ears. My body is not a crane! He strained not to pronounce these awful offensive words to the woman, and shook her weight off him, forcing her steady to the ground. Repelled by her lewd public act, he was sure to never be accused of that crime, and shooed her, “Go inside woman! Go!” After they closed the door on his concubine’s house as simple as his and Philomena’s, he tapped and grabbed her big butt then passionately kissed the woman’s huge breasts.

“Mom, I’m hungry,” a boy’s peevish voice called as the lovers attacked each other behind the door. Seduction dropped from Miguel’s mind, replaced again fully with irritation, and waves formed in his forehead with a risk parting the middle like a cockroach’s shell.

“Rodolpho come to say hello to dad!” the woman exclaimed, recomposing her skirt and blouse.

“How many times I said I’m not Rodolpho’s dad? I have a vasectomy. No, no more children for me. His dad is someone from your past I’m not kin with.” Miguel didn’t like the little man who always looked at him in defiance.

“Do you have to talk like this in front of the boy?” the woman reproached. “I meant for him to come greet his uncle.”

“I’m not his uncle either,” Miguel answered sarcastically.

“Why you offend my boy?” the woman said unhappily.

The boy watched them with vindictive disgust. “I’m hungry mom,” he said with resigned sadness

“Wait for mom. I’ll be with you in a minute. Go to the kitchen,” she said to her son and he patiently obeyed.

Bitter, Miguel said he’d go to bed, he needed a good sleep, and would see her later when god helped him wake up, hope reinvigorated.

“You see what you did? Now you upset Miguel! You’re nine, you can perfectly serve yourself. Food is on top of the stove. You’re sick with jealousy of your uncle with your mom, aren’t you? I need to be happy. Don’t you understand? No, you don’t understand!” the woman cried to her son after they went alone to the kitchen.

It was a severe lesson to the boy to realize he was rejected and hear his mother and that man talk about him like he was absent, like he was a big pile of shit. His hurt little ego directed his mind to a macabre desire to kill both of them and himself after.

“Shut your trap up or I’ll go back out to the same door I came in to get some moments of relaxation!” Miguel thundered.

The boy listened biting a leg of fried chicken, and peevishly said low for the old man to please do him that favor of leaving.

“What did he say?” Miguel asked angrily.

“Nothing, go sleep,” the woman said, fearing Miguel would have one of his five minutes of craziness in which nothing in this world would appease the man’s mind and he indeed would go away after his promising arrival. She needed some warmth and was sure he needed some they’d give to each other later.

Miguel, too tired, decided he’d take the provocation of that pintinho. He needed to sleep and stay where he was, and didn’t want to see that old loose bag Philomena for at least fifteen days.

The woman’s cheap nightgown was tight, laced, red, short, and see-through, her breasts stretching to rip the synthetic silk. She put on makeup waiting for Miguel to wake, but turned into a sleeper in sensual frustration. Her sleep restless, she dreamed of running naked on a promenade under dark trees. She couldn’t see right but shadows, and her heavy body couldn’t run, a creature after her. She woke and slept again so many times, and so many times dreamed of running under dark trees, and waking every hour or so, vainly dabbed her hair to fix it in place, and looked at the time shining at the bottom of her TV box. She anxiously exhaled her breath between her hands, peeled a mint drop, and shoved it to her mouth.

At four o’clock in the morning, Miguel dreamed his shiny shoes had power to carry him to the marble stairway of a courthouse tower sustained by gray pillars. Guards with chained lions stood hostile under the arc of the entrance. He sat at a defense table. IN ZEUS WE TRUST big letters spelled out above the judge. Men in black gowns and curly white wigs laughed scornfully at Miguel. Humbled, he waited. His proud cap, a detail of such immense dimension, lay on the table. Dizzy, he waited to be judged for a crime he didn’t know about. He was innocent! He felt melancholic when the men in wigs doubted his sanity. His insanity was a sort of key to his crime; he couldn’t tell exactly. He didn’t feel insane, and who was sane anyway? He had to defend himself on this question. The judge, a man with a long curved nose and a chin like a vagina judged him guilty and reckless in a too fast language Miguel had heard before but couldn’t decipher, and then intelligible words came clearly sentencing his death: ten strokes of a dagger in his heart. Jackals surrounded him, and assaulted his kingly body out of respect, extracting the gold buttons of his proud blue uniform with their teeth. Looking closely at the jackals, he saw they only had heads of jackals, their bodies human and female, opulent seductive bodies, and libidinous, they licked Miguel’s hairless chest. Miguel wanted to run way from his unjust condemnation; the women would help him, but with this thought the jackals immediately transformed into men, frightening big men.

Sweaty, thirsty, and with a hard on, Miguel woke free of his sentence. The pretty smile of his submissive woman was his first sight back to waking life, his partner there for him, and he sighed. He got up to piss and came back in bed. On the bedside table, a bottle of uncorked red wine and two half glasses of wine sat next to a candle quivering light on the pale walls. Marijuana smoke wafted toward the nose of the boy they assumed sleeping deeply on a mattress in the other room.

After a morning of satiated love, the woman took Rodolpho to stay at her mother’s house. She argued with her mom that the boy needed to stay with her for at least fifteen days. The old woman didn’t want the boy, and quarreled she head no strength to deal with kids anymore, and the boy once more listened to the turmoil of compassionless heads who god determined to be masters of his shit flesh on Earth.

If that boy grew to become one more slave with kids and a job in an factory, or a marginal, or a compassionate genius who might improve humanity’s ideas and organization somehow, I don’t know, because this story isn’t about the unloved child. This story is about Miguel who spent an idle vacation day with the woman who called her boss for a sick day to be in bed with him.

At five that evening, Miguel got up, showered, dressed in his Civil Guard uniform and declared with his valise in hand he was taking off.

“What do you mean, you’re taking off?” the woman asked, melting in love’s desperation.

“I meant what I said!” Miguel replied, already irritated with that stupid question, and annoyed added, “I need to go now if you want to see me ever again.”

She didn’t understand what he meant and tensed her forehead to ask incredulously, “All this passion I feel for you don’t mean anything to you? I have so much more to give” She prompted her breasts while talking and walking toward him in the middle of the room.

He smiled perversely and stepped back as he looked to her pair of tits in disdain. “Too much of the same food is abhorrent.”

“But you said you’d stay for fifteen days,” she cried.

“Hey! No! I didn’t! I said I’d give a lesson to Philomena and want to be away from home for fifteen days. I didn’t say I’d be under your skirt, I mean butt, fifteen days.”

“But I convinced mama to keep the boy at least fifteen days!” she shrieked then.

He armed his fists. “You bore me. I didn’t tell you to bring the boy anywhere, and he, hell, he annoys me; nobody dares tell me to leave from the place my flesh is present and breathing. The scoundrel took advantage I was too tired to have a-tête-à-tête. I hate that boy of yours and have had enough of your breasts and ass!” Miguel screamed.

“But Rodolpho won’t be home for fifteen days!” she screamed back, but Miguel stepped to the living room and the front door.

“No! Don’t go! I love you,” she cried and fell on his knees, grabbing the man’s legs to immobilize him to not walk out. She breathed wearily to hold her man with all her strength, but he twisted his body and angrily bit his tongue in a gesture to show he was the strongest. He stood the shameful crying woman by her vast hair, and beat her face with his palm. Degraded, she fell to the floor sobbing, saying she loved him, she loved him, but he slammed the door.

“Bitch from hell! You won’t see me alive ever! Demon! Demon, damn it!” His car hummed away.

Hot headed Miguel couldn’t settle in peace that evening. Maybe a bowl of old Philó’s chicken soup would restrain that sensation of a ball of fierce worms perforating his lower abdomen inside. Philó is what he called Philomena when he longed for her care and unconditional love she felt for his well being. Secretly encrusted in his soul, he suspected he was madly in love with his old darling Philó, for what else could be the reason he badly cared for a bowl of hot chicken soup with soft bits of carrots and seasoned with fresh cilantro, that soup a balm to his heart that pounded that night as as if mastering his end. In this load of thinking he recklessly rolled a cigar in his mouth as he slowly drove his old Chevrolet, puffing smoke hazing city lights, but Philomena needed a lesson, what lesson exactly, he didn’t know. Cars of anxious drivers fighting to be ahead in the evening honked nervously, so many exacerbated horns in the metropolis of heavy traffic.

“Hey! Who the hell think you think you are, Orléans-Braganza? Get the fuck out of my way with your old can, you old fart!” a driver behind Miguel’s car shouted, so slow Miguel drove down Avenida Angelica.

Wait a minute; a true man don’t treat old Miguel without dignity like that! His rage overwhelmed his pounding heart and the worms swirled furiously in his belly. Miguel focused his ill blue eyes in the mirror and spotted the driver’s head crowded by a thick beard and dark curly hair. Miguel pondered: that boy Rodolpho told me to leave his home and putana mama. He’s a baby chicken, no, no a lice, in fact! It’s why I let it go; now this one in my rear isn’t a pintinho, but an ape I say, and I’ll give this imbecile ape a lesson. Miguel braked his car abruptly before the crashing thunder of a car wreck followed by more impatient horns that rose in the confusion of the evening traffic. The guy in the rear realized the size of his problem when he sighted the giant Municipal Guard swinging handcuffs and a rubber baton, a gun on his waist, striding impatiently to his car. The conundrum took at least two hours to clean up.

Miguel then resumed his drive to the Bar do Alemão to play poker as intended before that idiot, idiot, messed with him. What kind of a driver ape doesn’t know a rear end wreck is always the fault of the driver ape in the rear? The fact that Miguel ape stopped to make that other idiot ape crash into his rear was a matter of no rational consideration to Miguel, and the tense episode extended the worms perforating his gut to perforate the bottom tip of his heart. His breathing couldn’t feed his soul.

In an emerald green dress, naked back and front, breasts dropping firm out of her collar, Negra Anita, Miguel’s favorite, greeted him at the door of the Bar do Alemão. He didn’t smash the palms of his hands on her butt while kissing her lips. No older then twenty-one, snow white teeth adorned her small delicate mouth drawn like a heart-shaped student leaf colored dark purple.

“You’re sick today, Doctor Miguel?” Negra Anita asked femininly slow and low when she could speak. She respected the man so dearly to the point to call him Doctor even though his uniform told her he wasn't a doctor but an ordinary bottom level civil guard of the city. “Maybe you need a warm bath,” Negra Anita offered submissively. She was a skinny woman with dark night-blue skin and long perfect legs to balance her curved hips.

“Not tonight Nega. I badly need water and wine. Stay on my side, yes? But no sex,” he said gravely in her ear.

“Yes, Doctor. Do you want me bring you to my home? I can care for you better there. Are you losing your personality, god’s creature?” Negra Anita asked delicately, keeping a tone of panic afar, her eyes melted by compassion, such small eyes in dark primitive waters, so deep in love with those colorful blue eyes of Miguel’s.

“Lost my personality? Who me? No, no, bring a jarro de vinho. That’ll cure everything, and say to all Miguel is on the second floor to drink and play poker tonight!”

All loved Miguel. “Saúde!” everyone cheered to a tintinnabulation of glasses. Ronda played on the jukebox. Miguel downed his first glass of wine in a gulp. Laughs filled the red lit room full of men, and sparkling young ladies in minuscule spandex dresses hung in bands around each man’s neck. Cigarettes, cigars, and marijuana smoke carried the sane atmosphere long away.

They sought happiness, satisfaction, and nirvana on Earth, but one man had his blue eyes fixed on Miguel’s hands enlaced on his Nega’s waist.

Miguel thought that confrontation seemed inevitable with that melancholic gentleman sitting far from the party in the farthest darkest corner of the room without any lady on his lap, around his neck, or at his table. A young version of Miguel by thirty years and as handsome, the melancholic fuck wore a white suit and didn’t stop staring at him and his Nega.

Depressed, the youth knew he meant nothing to Negra; she even told him she wouldn’t attend him nights Miguel showed up, and now he finally saw Miguel with his soft bodied woman of dark night-blue skin. He’d kill both with bare hands if courage was his virtue, but it wasn’t, which was why he agreed to be Negra’s second, third, fourth, or any number the beggar for her attention would be allowed at her convenience. Why he placed himself so low, why, he couldn‘t figure out. His woman, a tropical fruit juice delicious to suck had been taken from his hands and given to that old king he earnestly wished dead in a fulminatory heart attack, now god, please, now. But god didn’t attend him. Two hours went on. He drank his fourth Wild Turkey and ordered his fifth.

How many glasses of wine had Miguel? Five! All his inside worms quit and his heart palpitations disguised in sincere happiness jumbled with more anger for the intruder who didn’t take his narrow eyes from his skeleton, from his Negra. So now, clear for everyone to see, they eyed each other with clear hate. Ideas stormed lightening out of their magnetic brains indecipherably accusing each other until finally Miguel thundered for all to hear and clearly understand their force to communicate the same language “What the fuck you staring to my shell for? Huh?”

“Shell? Indeed, you’re ugly like oyster-shell! Ugly!

“Bernard! Bernard, shut the fuck up! Where’s Marina?” Nega Anita shouted to Bernard and called her colleague Marina embracing another man at another side of the table. “Marina! Can’t you please Bernard?”

“I don’t want to fuck that whore Marina! I want to fuck you whore Nega!” dizzy Bernard yelled while Miguel thought, he’s dead meat!

“What did you call my woman? Whore?”

“She didn’t tell you she sucks every other man’s dick anytime for ten bucks?” Bernard asked bravely, a courageous man, but didn’t know he was until then.

“Your bravery has cost you broken legs!” Miguel yelled.

Bernard trembled, and worse than trembling, sat and waited until his nose was punched and blood gushed all over his white suit.

Bernard became cowardly again and ran to the head of the stairway, the only exit. He stood there, blood gushing from his nose and once more provoked the beast, shouting bravely instead of leaving.

“You man! You! My nose is bleeding! I’d break your old bones if you weren’t in a police uniform. You beat me because you abuse your authority. Everyone is scared of you because you’re not man enough to come to Bar do Alemão not dressed like an officer carrying a gun, rubber baton, and handcuffs. I only carry my fists or I’d beat the crap of you!” the young man cried vexed and red.

“Bernard! Bernard! Go home! Go home!” Nega Anita yelled to his reason once more.

But the innocent younger devil punched his fists right and left, striking the air suggesting he’d fight Miguel if only the old man didn’t have his Civil Guard Uniform on.

In a jump, Miguel grabbed the fellow by the collar, dragged him to the middle of the saloon, and leaned him over the table. Glasses and bottles chimed out, and the crowd formed a circle around them while Miguel striped out of his uniform with one hand, his clothes and weapons in a mound behind him like unintelligible old belongings of savage aliens from a remote uncivilized space.

“Stupid Bernard! I told him to let Marina take care of him! God please don’t let Miguel kill Bernard!” Nega Anita prayed out loud.

“What is this a Romeo and Julieta love story between you and this scarecrow? How romantic!” Miguel mocked Bernard and Negra, then naked, beat the crap out of poor Bernard.

“Should I kill him?” Miguel asked the crowd that didn’t say yes or no but whistled to harass the violence. How ridiculous was outraged Miguel naked in striped boxers? He didn’t want to kill the boy, but left him blooded, bruised, and weeping on the floor, then dressed and hastily left the bar.

Miguel drove back to his Philó, and she was the happiest of Earth’s creatures when she saw her Miguel back. He did not say where he’d been for the past three days, and she didn’t ask. He showered, laid in bed, and asked if Philó would be so kind to cook him his favorite soup.

“Sure!” she rejoiced, and content, she cooked her famous chicken soup with bits of carrots and fresh cilantro for her lover. He said the smell was so good that he felt healthier already.

She arranged a tray with a portion of her magic soup in a white porcelain bowl, salty crackers, a glass of water, wine, ventured to pick a red carnation in her small garden, arranged the single flower in a skinny vase, and served her lord and beloved man, Miguel Valente. Satisfied, he turned and slept for eternity.

©2009 Regina Edelman
painting by Berndt Savig

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