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  • Garopaba Mon Amour
  • Caio Fernando Abreu (bio)
    Translated by Jennifer Alexander

To the music of "Sympathy for the Devil"

In Garopaba the sky is an intense blue. There is no thunder as Christ is placed on the cross.

Emanuel Medeiros Vieira, "Garopaba, My Love"

They were the first to arrive. During the night, the wind shaking the tent canvas, they could hear the others shouting, the metal pegs violating the earth. Dawn revealed the ground strewn with beer cans plastic cups crumpled papers cigarette butts blood-stained syringes food tins empty vials bottles of bronzing oil seedpods leather bags comic strips orthopedic sandals. In the morning, they sat on the highest boulder, crossed their legs, breathed deeply seven times, and asked nothing of the sea crashing on the sand.


"I don't know"

(Slap on the right ear.)


"I don't know"

(Slap on the left ear.)


"I don't know"

(Punch in the stomach.)

The men had stopped at the top of the hill. The short one pulled something metallic from his pocket; the sun wrested from it a blunt gleam. As they started to descend, he understood that it was a revolver. He knew then that they were looking for him. And he didn't move. Later he wouldn't understand if it was masochism or slowness to react, or even an obscure belief in the inevitability of things, astral alignments, fate. Not for the time being. There he was in the midst of the dismantled tents, and the men were coming down the hill towards him. Behind him was the sea, some boulders. And bays and forests full of wildcats and clearings with roots pulling dark substances from the earth to transform them via tree trunks into red flowers, gaping like bloody wounds on the ends of the branches. There might be no later now, he thought, standing there as the [End Page 1] men continued to descend towards him, and the silence of the others around him screamed he was lost.

The wind shakes the tent hard enough to tear it from the ground, blow it over the bay, and lift us through the skies past the ruins of Atlantis, the lost continent of Mu, the island of Madeira, the coasts of Africa, passing Morocco, Tunisia, Persia, Turkey … (Mar, the world is so vast, can you even imagine Afghanistan? Waking up and looking at the ceiling, thinking: the beams of this ceiling were made from a tree planted here; I never thought that one day I'd sleep under pieces of an Afghan tree. Mar, the wind would take us as far as Nepal, to leave us in the most central square of Kathmandu.)

"If I go straight ahead, faggot, you can relax. If I turn right, you motherfucker, you can start saying your prayers. Where do you think I will go, you worthless stoner?"

"Wherever you want, sir, I don't know. I don't care anymore"

Surrounded by the rattles of tambourines trailing colored ribbons, the whistles of flutes, violas and drums. The wine flows, the cigarettes pass from hand to hand. We look into each other's eyes, tinted by the green of the sea, and feel like gypsies; we breathe deeply and give thanks for this year, which is passing and which finds us still alive and free and beautiful and still (though we don't know how) outside the bars of any prison or asylum. For how long? There is no longer the sound of tambourines, no colored ribbons flutter in the breeze, no blows of the flute lose themselves in the direction of the invisible African coast. Wine no longer flows in our dry mouths, our fingers with nails bitten to the quick as we keep a hold of the fear while the men search the tents. We mingle, confused, without looking each other in the eye. We avoid facing each other—why do we feel shame or pity or a visceral understanding of what we are and what everything is?—yet, when our eyes do stumble against those of another, they are the eyes of a scared child. A beaten dog, tail between its legs. In...


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