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167 kisses on the cheek “your bladder will have to be removed entirely,” Roberto said. “And in these cases a place is prepared for the urine to be stored before it’s excreted. A part of your intestine will be converted into a small sac, connected to the ureters. The urine from that receptacle will be directed to a bag placed in an opening in your abdominal wall. I’m describing the procedure in layman’s terms so you can understand. The bagwillbehiddenbyyourclothesandwillhavetobeemptiedperiodically. Have I been clear?” “Yes,” I replied, lighting a cigarette. “I’d like to schedule the surgery immediately following the tests I’m asking for. Did I tell you about the relationship between bladder cancer and smoking?” “I don’t remember.” “Three out of five cases of bladder cancer are linked to smoking. The link between smoking and bladder cancer is especially strong among men.” “I promise I’ll stop smoking.” “This year, worldwide, there will be close to three hundred thousand cases of bladder cancer.” 168 | Rubem Fonseca “Really?” “It’s the fourth most common type of cancer and the seventh leading cause of death from cancer.” I felt like telling Roberto to stop bugging me, but besides being my doctor he was also my friend. “Bladdercancer,”hecontinued,“canoccuratanyage,butitusuallyhits peopleoverfifty.You’llbefiftynextmonth.You’reamontholderthanme.” “I’m late for an appointment. I have to go, Roberto.” “Don’t forget to have the tests done.” I ran out. I didn’t have any appointment. I wanted to smoke another cigarette in peace. And I also needed to meet with someone who could get me a gun. I remembered my brother. I phoned him. “Do you still have that weapon?” “Yes. Why?” “Want to sell it?” “No.” “Aren’t you afraid one of your children will find the gun and shoot the other one in the head? Something like that happened the other day. It was in the papers.” “My gun is locked inside a drawer.” “According to the paper, so was that poor guy’s.” “I didn’t read anything about it.” “Youalwayssayyouonlyreadtheheadlines.Thatdidn’tmaketheheadlines because it happens every day.” “And just how did it happen?” “The boy was playing cowboys and Indians with his brother and the tragedy occurred. Any day now I’m going to read in the newspaper that one nephew of mine killed the other playing a game.” “Enough with the foreboding.” “I’ll stop by there tonight.” When I got to my brother’s house he said, “Take a look at this drawer. You think a couple of kids could break that lock?” “Yes.” 169 | Kisses on the Cheek “How?” “Want to see me break into that piece of shit?” “You’re an adult.” “Where’s Helena?” “In the bedroom.” “Have her come out here.” I told his wife about the article in the newspaper, which I had made up. “I’m constantly asking Carlos to get rid of that damned thing, but he won’t listen,” said Helena. “I came here to buy the revolver, but this idiot doesn’t want to sell.” “What are you going to do with the gun?” Carlos asked. “Nothing. Own it, that’s all. I’ve always wanted a revolver.” Helena and my brother argued for a time. She won the debate when she said that one of the boys could get hold of the key while my brother was sleeping, or when he forgot the key in a place where the kids could find it, or on some other occasion. Finally, Carlos opened the drawer and took out the gun. “And to make things worse, you keep the thing loaded,” I said, after examining the firearm. “You irresponsible madman,” said Helena, furious, “you always told me the revolver wasn’t loaded. Listen, let your brother take that piece of crap with him, now. Otherwise I’m moving out and taking the children.” I got the revolver and went back to my apartment. I phoned my girlfriend . I felt like going to the bathroom but knew I’d see signs of blood in the urine, which always sent a shiver down my spine. That could spoil my time with her. I urinated with my eyes closed and, also with my eyes closed, flushed the toilet several times. While I was waiting for my girlfriend, I thought about the future, smoking and drinking whiskey. I was going to spend the rest of my life filling with urine a bag stuck to my body, which would then...


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MARC Record
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