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40 the blotter 1. Detective Miro brought the woman to see me. “It was her husband,” Miro said, uninterested. In that precinct in the outskirts, husband-and-wife squabbles were common. Two of her front teeth were broken, her lips injured, her face swollen. Marks on the arms and neck. “Did your husband do this?” I asked. “He didn’t mean to, sir, I don’t want to file a complaint.” “Then why are you here?” “At the time I was angry, but not now. Can I go?” “No.” Miro sighed. “Let the woman leave,” he said between his teeth. “You’ve sufferedbodilyharm;that’sa prosecutablecrimeindependent of your lodging a complaint. I’m going to send you for questioning to see if a crime has been committed,” I said. “Ubiratan is high-strung but he’s not a bad person,” she said. “Please, don’t do anything to him.” 41 | The Blotter They lived nearby. I decided to go have a talk with Ubiratan. Once, in Madureira, I had convinced a guy to stop beating his wife; two others, when I worked in the Jacarepaguá precinct, had also been persuaded to treat their wives decently. Atall,muscularmanopenedthedoor.Hewasinshorts,shirtless.Inone corner of the room was a steel bar with heavy iron rings and two weights painted red. He must have been doing exercises when I arrived. His muscles were swollen and covered with a thick layer of sweat. He exuded the spiritual strength and pride that good health and a muscle-packed body give certain men. “I’m from the precinct,” I said. “Ah, so she did file a complaint, the stupid bitch,” Ubiratan grumbled. He went to the refrigerator, took out a can of beer, opened it, and started drinking. “Go tell her to come home right now or there’s gonna be trouble.” “I don’t think you understand why I’m here. I came to ask you to make a statement at the precinct.” Ubiratan threw the empty can out the window, grabbed the barbell and hoisted it overhead ten times, breathing noisily through his mouth as if he were a locomotive. “You think I’m afraid of the police?” he asked, looking admiringly and affectionately at the muscles in his chest and arms. “There’s no need to be afraid. You’re just going there to make a statement .” Ubiratan grabbed my arm and shook me. “Get the hell outta here, you lousy cop, you’re starting to get on my nerves.” I took my revolver from its holster. “I could arrest you for insulting an officer of the law, but I’m not going to do that. Don’t make things worse; come down to the precinct with me, you’ll be out of there in half an hour,” I said, calmly and politely. Ubiratan laughed. “How tall are you, midget?” “Five-eight. Let’s go.” “I’m going to take that piece of shit outta your hand and piss down the 42 | Rubem Fonseca barrel, midget.” Ubiratan contracted every muscle in his body, like an animal making itself bigger to frighten the other, and extended his arm, his hand open to grab my gun. I shot him in the thigh. He looked at me, astonished. “Look what you did to my sartorius!” Ubiratan screamed, pointing to his own thigh, “you’re crazy, my sartorius!” “I’m very sorry,” I said, “now let’s go or I’ll shoot the other leg.” “Where you taking me, midget?” “First to the hospital, then to the precinct.” “This isn’t the last of it, midget, I got influential friends.” Blood was running down his leg, dripping onto the floor of the car. “Youbastard,mysartorius!”His voicewasmorepiercing thanthesiren that opened a path for us through the streets. 2. A warm summer morning on São Clemente Street. A bus struck down a ten-year-old boy. The vehicle’s wheels ran over his head, leaving a trail of brain matter several yards long. Beside the body was a new bicycle, without a scratch on it. A traffic cop caught the driver at the scene. Two witnesses stated that the bus was moving at high speed. The site of the accident was carefully roped off. An old woman, poorly dressed, with a lit candle in her hand, wanted to crossthepoliceline,“tosavethelittleangel’ssoul.”Shewasstopped.Along with the other bystanders, she contemplated the body from a distance. Separated, in the middle of the street, the corpse appeared even smaller. “Good thing...


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MARC Record
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