Chapter 1: January 3, Last Year
I'm doing well, too, thank God.
Wow, thank you very much, Cidão, this roll'n'butter1 is super. Thank you, Mr. Nitwit! May God go on blessing you all! Ah, what a nice old coffee, dear Lord! Thank you, thank you...
Wow! Good morning, doc2! Sorry, feel free, you can have this chair. No, no! I'm having my coffee outside, don't bother. You can stay; I'm already on my way anyways, I just came by to grab my morning coffee that Mr. Nitwit serves me gently, and what a kind man he is, oh yes! Let God bless him forever, amen, amen... Hehe!
Oh! There it is. It's good enough. Ouch, I'm getting old and staggering even to sit on my little spot here, hehe. Good morning, my Lord, thank you for breakfast, oh yes!
Hey, doc! I see, telling by your face, that you are also annoyed at all that dirt. You see, it's been more than a day that the New Year is here and everything's still scattered over here, but there's nothing worth saving, everything's rotten, smelling, you get it? It must be worst from the door because this smell comes up with the sun heat.
Yeah, they need to clean this all up. Not even stray dogs sniff it anymore, and they had their fun, hehe, some rush it was. Ours and the dogs', but it was enough for everybody... Oh, it was!
What a party, huh? This year, it was so cheerful, oh yes. Forró3 was there. It was over when it was already day time. The sun was hot and the kids real hammered, still rattling, hehe. You had to see how these kids mess around, doc. It was some kissing here and some bumping and grinding there, the brothers here had fun, peeking from under their blankets.
The brothers, doc? Ah, those are wandering buddies that come together to protect and help themselves and sleep a little. Some stay a while, others only a night or two. But only those who help stay, y'know? We have no permanent stay, but there are places we can live a while and people who we can, and allow to, live together for even longer. Here in this life, nobody belongs to anybody and nobody messes with anybody, but we help each other anyway.
But then, on those days we almost don't sleep, we just watch and laugh, making coy comments, y'know? Hehe. But everything's fine, it'll be nothing. We have to enjoy it anyways. Life is short, right, doc? As I was saying, this year the mess was better not just because it ended late, or early, you get what I mean, but because the kids were on fire. At dawn, way after the fireworks, you had to see how the cars passed by. Honking here, breaking there – only mighty cars, buzzing very high. Then it's dangerous, right? What if one of these boys comes boozed up, loses control and runs over the kids? May the Lord have mercy, poor little kids! The brothers here get a little worried, afraid, y'know, but this tiny garden here in the crossing protects us.
At night, we sleep right over there, on the sidewalk, under that store's hood. It's a driving school, actually, you see?
Yes, right there. Do you think a car could cross this tiny garden with all that dwarf wall of stones and concrete?
Yes, doc, it won't cross it and that is what I say to the brothers, but even so some of them are afraid, hehe. Messed up, isn’t it, doc? But they are good kids, each in their way, they have a good heart, they already suffered a lot, y'know?
Forgive me for having my coffee and not offering it to you, but you know the dirt and these things, I know you get it, right?
Ah! See those glasses on that corner, doc?
Yes! It's a bottle; actually, it was, hehe. I'm showing you so you have an idea of how the kids were. That bottle, that is not a bottle anymore, was thrown at a girl by another girl! Luckily it didn't hit her and it broke there. There was the greatest yelling, doc. The two of them really got down and it was for real! Hair pulling, swearing and everything. It seems that a girl, the one who almost got hit by the bottle, stole the one who threw the bottle's boyfriend. She was insane!
The one who threw the bottle, not the other, hehe. Then you see, we cheered like fans in a soccer championship final match: some rooted to one, others to the other, and everybody had fun nudging. But we root quietly, only whispering and nudging each other, because if they noticed us, they could get angry and come at us. Then it's complicated. So, doc, they got down to a fight. It was beautiful to see. We laughed with our hands on our mouths to muffle the laughter that wanted to come out. Ah, and you won't believe it! The boyfriend remained next to them the whole time, watching the fight, drinking his beer, hehe, you see? He couldn't care less; he laughed, doc! These kids are really different. The fight was only over once the other boys came and split them up. It seems that they were boyfriends of the tempestuous girls' friends, something like that. We just noted that someone who knew them went there to call these boys. They still cursed a little more, but then each took their way. What happened to the boy was not heard of. What a shock if he came to the party chasing after another girl, oh yes, hehe.
But as I was telling you, doc, it’s that nothing worth has been left here, only this dirt. It's bad, y'know? We don't have much here and have to make do with what we have, but they could help a little, couldn't they? This smell is bad enough at this time, now imagine at two, three in the afternoon how it's going to be. The whole city must be like this. They may still come here today to clean this up. One of the brothers that sleep over there with us said he talked to one of his buddies, from that square over there - yeah, the Tree Square4 that has no trees, hehe - and he said that in Anhangabaú the thing was even worse. Said there were too many people and everybody was way too hyped-up, y'know, right? It looks like there were lots of fights and the police had to meddle in to fix it up. Then, y'know, don't you, doc. Things got real nasty, because in that frenzy, nobody stops. They all become animals. And that buddy of his made it here only at the end of the day after, he even said that he was far from the fighting, but he had to hide because it was a huge tangle of people, that came and went to all places, like bursting cattle taking down all that's in front on them, can you imagine!
I hope they come clean this up today. You see, not even the can pickers or the pushcart men show up anymore, y'know, right? Those who come pulling their pushcarts that they build themselves and carry with every single kind of thing in every single way. I don't even know where they come from, and there are many, every day more, and they are like ants that get out of nowhere, in numbers, pile up on the candy and go away the same way they came. Then, not even them who carry everything come here anymore: nothing is worth it. What a thing, isn't it, doc? The guy living off of picking things up is not easy, but pulling the pushcart as if it was a horse? No bridle? How sad! And you know, in this situation you can't eat right, they are all skinny and have to make do. Who knows how many kilometers they walk a day pulling all that burden. What a thing! Some throw themselves in front of cars without worrying about anything. They go the wrong way and think they're right. Others load the pushcart so much they can't even pull the handle down. These days, right here on the down turn of Bosque, one of them started out downhill and couldn't hold the pushcart back. No wonder, how would the guy hold a pushcart like that, packed like that, especially in a downhill like that, no ramp and no break? Hehe, who knows! I only know that he just stopped when he hit a lamppost sideways, then the whole load went ahead, the handle lowered and he was stuck, sitting, no standing up. We were nearby and saw everything, so we helped him raise the handle and stand up. It seemed that he had only a few scratches and some red marks on his belly. I think they got purple later. But nothing too serious, it was just a scare. He was all embarrassed, not talking much, and wanted to continue travelling quickly, still staggering, hehe. But it won't be a thing, dear Lord!
But of course, doc, feel free, work really can't wait. I have this thing of nonstop speaking and don't even see time passing by, which is good for me, because what I have the most are hours to spend, but I end up bugging others, hehe. It's a distraction, y'know? I've been seeing you around here for some time already. You're new around here, aren't you? I figured. Thank you for the conversation, doc. It's good to chat like that once in a while. I see that you are a very fine guy and a polite person, see, you even wasted your time listening to someone like me.
Don't bother, doc! It's me who says thanks. And you have a good day, too, doc. May God accompany you on your work, oh yes, hehe, thank goodness.