Bang, Bang, You're dead!
“... you, a mercenary, who depends on work to get your bread!”
- The Epic of Gilgamesh.
My father was arrested for trafficking of military weapons. We had a decent life before: a small apartment at Tijuca, health insurance, money for going to the movies... Then came retirement and the money was short as none of us, including Mom, worked. My old man felt guilty about always seeing us on a tightrope, dodging bill collectors, sweating to pay the other ones, and that’s where Lieutenant Amaro appeared.
At first, he was just a bizarre friend who had lunch at home with us and then locked himself with Dad on the terrace for conversations no one could hear. Two months later, BOPE knocked on our door and carried my father out accusing him of being part of a gang that was financing trafficking and violence in Rio de Janeiro.
Alana Farias Pimentel never had to move a finger to bring money home. When young, her parents fulfilled all her wishes and whims. Needless to say, the marriage to a military policeman broke this relationship completely and that was why, seeing herself alone, all those years of glamor weighed on her back.
My mother freaked out and started drinking and drinking. Even with government money, nothing was enough to maintain her standard of living. Until, in a moment, I had no clothes or shoes to wear.
And of course I still had my brother.
I was only thirteen when it happened, three years after Dad’s arrest. We were living in Madureira, in this same studio. The house was filthy, rats and cockroaches were everywhere, and Alana didn’t even get up to defecate, making it impossible to get close to her.
Jorge was a tough eighteen-year-old. Because our appearance and smell didn’t help much, he worked on making deliveries to a neighbor at the newsstand and getting some change. We had no light at home and we showered at the surrounding gas stations. We always tried to vary so as not to look suspicious.
That day ... We had not eaten anything, as it was a holiday and we could not privilege school meals. My brother was nervous, not for him, but for me and my mother.
He decided to steal food from the corner grocery store and was caught in the act. When he told the owner of the establishment what we were going through, he filed a procedure for interning my mother, and so that I would not be separated from Jorge, he signed a disclaimer about me until I was eighteen.
Mr. Carmelito was the owner of the little store that saved us. He gave my brother a decent job and helped us to catch up. A mass effort of volunteer people cleaned up the devastated home in which we lived, and for a moment things settled down. The first year was good. Dad’s pension money was lined up for my college savings and potential emergencies.
We survived back then from Jorge’s salesman and stockist’s salary and still do. Only now, I wasn’t a little girl anymore. There was a world out there and I had to brave it myself.
“The descent into hell is easy,” said Virgil. That’s because he wasn’t sixteen and still wore a small-size bra.
Virgilio had no idea how easy it was.