The Blockade, and: The Erstwhile Magician of Minhota Tavern, and: The Pyrotechnist Zacharias
And her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.Isaiah 13:22
On the third night sleeping in the small apartment of a recently constructed building, he heard the first noises. He was usually a heavy sleeper, and even on waking was slow to enter into the new day, confusing remnants of dream with fragments of reality. So he didn't immediately give much importance to the vibrating windows, putting it down to a nightmare. The darkness of the room helped reinforce this fragile conviction. The commotion was intense. It was coming from the upper stories and sounded like floor planers. He turned on the light and looked at the clock: 3 a.m. That was strange. The condominium's regulations didn't allow for that kind of work to take place in the middle of the night. But the machine stuck ruthlessly to its task, the noise increasing along with Geryon's annoyance at the estate agents, who had assured him the building was excellently managed. Suddenly, the noises stopped.
He fell back to sleep and dreamed his thorax was being sawn into. He awoke in a panic: a powerful blade was digging its teeth into the topmost floors, cutting through the sturdy material, which splintered and then came apart.
At intervals he could hear dry explosions, the nervous movements of a jackhammer, the steady pounding of a pile driver. Were they building something or destroying it?
He hesitated, torn between fear and curiosity, between trying to find out what was happening and retrieving his most valuable possessions to make his getaway before the eventual collapse. He preferred the risk of returning to the home he'd left so quickly due to family troubles. He got dressed and looked out onto the street through the trembling windowpane. It was a sunny morning, and he wondered if he would ever see another.
As soon as he opened the door, the rattle of various drill bits reached his ears, shortly followed by the snapping of steel cables and the sound of the lift tumbling as it plummeted down the shaft, smashing into the ground with a violence that shook the entire building. [End Page 175]
He retreated in terror, locking himself inside the apartment, his heart beating erratically. This is the end, he thought. In the meantime, however, silence had almost returned and all that could be heard were distant, intermittent cracking sounds, the irritating scrape of metals and concrete.
By the afternoon, peace had returned to the building, prompting Geryon to go out onto the balcony and examine the extent of the damage. He found himself under open sky. Four floors had disappeared, as if meticulously cut away, their steel frames worn down, beams sawn off, slabs of concrete demolished. Everything reduced to a fine powder piled neatly in the corners.
There was no sign of the machines. Maybe they were already far away, moved on to another construction, he concluded with a sense of relief.
He was heading down the stairs, feeling relaxed and whistling a popular tune, when he felt the jolt of disappointment: from the floors below came the full range of noises hed heard throughout the day.
He called down to management, but didn't hold out much hope of receiving a satisfactory explanation for what was going on. It was the apartment manager himself who answered the phone: "Routine work. We apologize, especially as you're our only tenant. For the moment, of course."
"What kind of bloody routine has you tear down the entire building?"
"Within three days it will all be over," said the manager, and hung up.
"All be over. Damn." Geryon went into the tiny kitchen, which was mostly taken up by empty cans. He prepared his dinner with little enthusiasm, sick and tired of eating from a tin.
Would he outlast these cans? He gazed sadly at his stock of provisions, meant to sustain him for the week.
The phone rang. He put down his plate, intrigued by the call. No one knew his new address. Under a false name, he'd subscribed to the telephone company and rented the apartment. A wrong number, surely.
It was his wife, to add to his sorrows.
"How did you find me?" He heard a giggle on the other end of the line. (The fatty must be munching on sweets. She always had some within arm's reach.)
"Why did you abandon us, Geryon? Come back home. You won't be able to live without my money. Who'll give you a job?" (By that point, Margarerbe would already be licking her chocolate-smeared fingers or wiping them on her patterned bathrobe, which was of course red, her favorite color. The pig.)
"Go to hell. You, your money, and all your fat."
He became temporarily oblivious to the noises, sinking into despair.
He searched his pockets for a cigarette and was disappointed to discover he only had a few left. He'd forgotten to replenish his supply. He swore. [End Page 176]
His hand was resting on the phone, which he'd placed back on the receiver. Geryon winced on hearing it ring again.
He cracked a sad smile. "My little girl."
"You really could come home you know, and read me that story about the green horse."
The rehearsed section having come to an end, Seateia began to flounder. "Daddy … We'd really like you to come, but I know you don't want to. Don't come if things are better there …"
The line suddenly went dead. He'd suspected from the beginning—and then become certain—that his daughter had been coerced into phoning him in an attempt at emotional blackmail. At that moment, she was probably receiving a walloping for not having followed her mother's instructions to the letter.
Nauseated, he lamented the failure of his escape. He would once again have to share a bed with his wife, her body taking up two-thirds of the mattress, squashing him. The snoring, the flatulence.
But he couldn't allow the hatred Margarerbe felt towards him to be passed on to Seateia. Through his daughter, she would resort to any form of torment to get even with him.
The noises had lost their initial intensity. They receded, then stopped altogether.
Geryon made his way down the stairs, unsure of the need for his sacrifice.
Eight floors down, the stairway abruptly ended. One foot dangling in midair, he retreated, overcome by fear, and fell backwards. He was sweating and his legs trembled.
He couldn't get back up. He was nailed to the stairs.
It took him some time to recover. Once his vertigo had passed, he saw the cleared ground below, which gave no indication of ever having supported a building. There was no trace of poles, bits of steel, or bricks—just a fine powder piled carefully in the corners of the lot.
He returned to his apartment, still shaken by the fright he'd received. He collapsed onto the sofa. Unable to return home, he experienced the pleasure of pure solitude. He was aware of his selfishness in excusing himself from his daughter's future problems. Perhaps he only cared for her because of the natural obligation parents have to love their children.
Did he care about anyone? He redirected his thoughts, a convenient tactic for evading the watchful eye of conscience.
He waited patiently for his wife's next phone call, answering, when it arrived, with a sadistic gleam in his eyes. He'd been waiting a long time for the chance to exact sweet revenge on Margarerbe for humiliations accumulated while at the [End Page 177] constant mercy of her whim, for having branded him—at all hours and even in front of the servants—a good-for-nothing and a parasite.
He had selected his adjectives carefully, but never got the chance to use them: a luminous beam destroyed the phone line. For a few seconds, a fine, colored dust hung in the air. The blockade was closing in.
After a few hours of absolute silence, it would return: noisy, gentle, sharp, soft, shrill, monotonous, dissonant, polyphonic, rhythmic, melodious, almost musical. He became lost in the memory of a waltz he'd danced many years before. Harsh noises disturbed this adolescent image, which was replaced by that of Margarerbe; he drove it away.
He awoke late at night to a terrible scream reverberating through the corridors of the building. He lay paralyzed in bed, in agonized anticipation: could the machine emit human voices? He preferred to believe he'd been dreaming, because in reality all he could hear was the monotonous sound of an excavator carrying out its tasks on floors very close to his own.
Reassured, he went over the events of the previous days, concluding that at least the noises had become more infrequent and his nerves were no longer being so harshly assailed by the sawing of steel and wood. Sporadic and irregular, the sounds moved quickly between floors, bewildering Geryon as to the machine's objective. Why just one machine and not various, carrying out diverse and autonomous tasks, as he had originally believed? Belief in the machine's singularity had taken hold of him without any apparent explanation, yet it was unshakeable. Yes, singular but multiple in its actions.
The noises drew nearer. They became less hurried and more regular, leading him to believe they would soon fill the apartment.
The crucial moment was drawing close, and he found it hard to restrain the impulse to go after the machine, which had lost much of its vigor, or else was taking its time over the task, refining its work, savoring the final moments of destruction.
Alongside his desire to confront the machine, to discover the secrets that made it so powerful was his fear of the encounter. He became absorbed, however, in this fascination, straining his ears to capture the sounds that were at that moment arranging themselves into a chromatic scale in the corridor, as the first beams of light penetrated the living room.
Unable to restrain himself, he opened the door. There was a sudden halt in the crescendo of noises, and he heard the echoes of snaps and cracks disappearing rapidly down the staircase. In the corners, a fine gray powder had begun to accumulate.
He repeated the experiment, but the machine persisted in concealing itself. [End Page 178] He wasn't sure whether this was from simple modesty or because it was still too soon for it to reveal itself, to lay bare its mystery.
As the machine came and went, its constant flights heightened Geryon's curiosity. He couldn't stand the wait, fearing that the machine would continue to delay his annihilation or forego his destruction altogether.
The colored lights continued to filter through the cracks, weaving and unweaving an uninterrupted rainbow in the air: would there be time to contemplate the fullness of its colors?
He locked the door. [End Page 179]
The Erstwhile Magician of Minhota Tavern
Bow down thine ear, O Lord, hear me: for I am poor and needy.Psalms 86:1
Today I am a civil servant, but that is not my greatest disconsolation.
In fact, I was not prepared for the suffering. Every man, having come of a certain age, finds himself perfectly able to face the avalanche of tedium and bitterness, as he has grown accustomed to vicissitudes since childhood, through a slow and gradual process of sequential displeasures.
That did not happen with me. I was thrown into life without parents, infancy, or youth.
One day, in the mirror at Minhota Tavern, I noticed my hair slightly tinged with gray. I was not shocked, much less surprised, to discover that I had pulled the owner of the restaurant from my pocket. He certainly was, and asked, dramatically perplexed, how I had done such a thing.
How was I supposed to respond in that situation, I who could not find the slightest explanation for my presence in the world? I told him I was tired. I had been born tired and bored.
Neither taking time to consider my reply, nor asking any further questions, he offered me a job, and from that moment on, mine was the task of entertaining the clientele with magic tricks.
The owner, however, did not like my habit of offering the spectators a free lunch, which I would mysteriously produce from my tailcoat. On the reckoning that it was not the best business strategy to increase his clientele without a corresponding rise in profits, he introduced me to the agent for the Andaluz Park Circus, who, apprised of my abilities, offered to hire me. The tavern owner was quick to warn him against my tricks: after all, it would be no surprise to anyone if I were to take to distributing free tickets to the shows.
Contrary to the pessimistic expectations of my first boss, however, my behavior was exemplary. Not only did my public presentations enthrall the multitudes, they also reaped fabulous profits for the company owners.
The audience generally received me coldly, perhaps because I was not wearing a top hat and tails. But as soon as I unwittingly started to pull rabbits, snakes, and lizards from my hat, there was rapturous applause. Especially at the [End Page 180] last number, when I would conjure a crocodile from between my fingers and, squeezing the animal at the extremities, transform the beast into an accordion. I would then close the show by playing the national anthem of Cochin China. That brought the house down, without fail; I would greet the ovation with a mildly bemused gaze.
The ringmaster, watching me from the wings, grew exasperated with my indifference to the applause of the crowd, especially to the clapping children at the Sunday matinee. Why would it move me if I felt no pity for those innocent faces, destined as they were to endure the suffering that accompanies the maturation of men? Much less did it occur to me to hate them for having all that I yearned for but had been denied: a birth and a past.
As my popularity grew, my life became unbearable.
Sometimes, while sitting in a café, ruefully watching the people waltz up and down the footpath, Id find myself plucking pigeons, seagulls, and parakeets from my pockets. The people sitting nearby, thinking my gesture intentional, would burst into fits of laughter. All I could do was look disconsolately to the floor, grumbling under my breath against the world and the birds.
If I as much as opened my hands, out fell a stream of strange objects. It got to the point that I once caught myself pulling a figure from my sleeve, followed by another, then another, until I was surrounded by a host of peculiar figures I had no idea what to do with.
So I did nothing. I just looked about imploringly for help I knew could never come from any quarter.
It was excruciating.
Almost without fail, whenever I reached for a handkerchief with which to blow my nose, I provoked the wonderment of all around me by pulling a bedsheet from my pocket. If I touched the lapel of my jacket, out came a buzzard. On other occasions, if I bent down to tie my shoelaces, snakes slithered from my trouser legs. Women and children screamed. The police would arrive, gathering around, all curious—a proper scene. I had to present myself at the police station and listen patiently as the superintendent expressly forbade me to release serpents in public places.
I did not protest. Shy and humble, I stated my condition as magician and offered assurance that I had not wished to harry anyone.
And then there were the times at night when I would be startled from a peaceful sleep by a noisy bird beating its wings as it emerged from my ear.
On one such occasion, irritated, intent on never doing magic again, I mutilated my hands. It was pointless. They reappeared with the first move I made, new and perfect, at the end of the stumps of my wrists. It was enough to drive anyone to despair, especially a weary magician.
I had to find a solution to my despair. After much thought, I concluded that only death could put an end to my disconsolation. [End Page 181]
Resolved in my intent, I pulled a dozen lions from my pockets and folded my arms, waiting for them to devour me. They did not do me the slightest harm. They encircled me, sniffed my clothes, looked out over the landscape, and off they went.
They returned the next day and lined up purposefully before me.
—What do you want, stupid animals?!—I growled, indignant.
They shook their manes sorrowfully and begged me to make them disappear:
—This world is tremendously tedious, they concluded.
I could not contain my rage. I killed them all and set about devouring them, one by one. I hoped to die of fatal indigestion.
Suffering of sufferings! I had a woeful stomachache but survived.
The failed attempt multiplied my frustration. I withdrew from the city to the mountains. When I reached the highest peak, which overlooked a dark abyss, I flung myself to the winds.
I felt only a light sensation of proximity to death, as I soon saw myself dangling from a parachute. With some difficulty, having fairly battered myself on the rocks, I made it back to town, dirty and maimed, where the first thing I did was acquire a pistol.
At home, laid out on the bed, I raised the gun to my temple. I pulled the trigger and waited for the thud and pain of the bullet penetrating my skull.
No gunshot, no death: the Mauser had become a pencil.
I rolled, sobbing, onto the floor. I, who could create other beings, could not find a way to liberate myself from my own existence.
A comment I overheard by chance in the street brought fresh hope of a definitive rupture with life. I heard a sad man mumble that to be a civil servant was to commit slow suicide.
I was in no condition to determine which form of suicide suited me best, slow or quick. So I took a job with the Secretary of State.
Nineteen thirty, a bitter year. Longer than any other since that first manifestation of my existence in the mirror at Minhota Tavern.
I did not die, as I had wished. The greater were my afflictions, the greater grew my dejection.
As a magician, I had paid little heed to people; the stage kept me aloof from them. Now, forced into constant contact with my kind, I had to understand them and hide the nausea they caused me.
The worst was that, as my workload was trifling, I was left twiddling my thumbs hours at a stretch. The idleness led me to revolt against my lack of a past. Why was I, of all those I saw before me, the only one who had nothing to remember? My days floated by confusedly, mixed with the paltry recollections of my mere three years of life.
The love I developed for a colleague, the girl at the desk beside mine, distracted me a little from my unrest. [End Page 182]
A fleeting distraction, alas. I was soon back to my disquietude, debating uncertainties. How should I declare myself to her? I had never made a declaration of love; I had never even had a sentimental experience!
Nineteen thirty-one rang in sad, with the threat of layoffs at the Secretariat and rejection by the typist. Faced with imminent dismissal, I decided to look out for my interests. (I didn't care about the job. My concern was with being separated from the woman who had spurned me, but whose presence was now indispensable to me.)
I went straight to the section chief and told him that I couldn't be laid off because, after ten years on the job, I had acquired tenure.
He stared at me awhile in silence, and his expression grew stormy. He said he was shocked at my cynicism. How could anyone with a mere year on the job have the cheek to claim to have worked ten.
To prove that there was nothing underhanded about my actions, I searched in my pockets for the documents that could prove the legitimacy of my request. I was stupefied. All I found was a crumpled piece of paper—a fragment of a poem inspired by the typist's breasts.
Anxious, I turned out all my pockets and found nothing.
I had to acknowledge defeat. I had trusted too much in the ability to work magic, and it had been annulled by bureaucracy.
Today, without my old and miraculous magic powers, I am unable to abandon the worst of human professions. Denied the love of my colleague, in the absence of friends, I am obliged to wander lonely places. I can often be seen feeling inside my clothes with the tips of my fingers, trying to pull out something that nobody else can see, no matter how hard they look.
People think I am mad, especially when I fling these little things into the air.
I have the impression that it's a swallow that flutters from my palms. I sigh loud and deep.
The illusion is no comfort. It serves only to increase my regret at not having created an entire world of magic.
For a moment, I imagine how wonderful it would be to pull red, blue, white, green handkerchiefs from my person. Fill the night with fireworks. Tilt my face to the sky and exhale a rainbow from my lips. A rainbow that covers the Earth from pole to pole, to the applause of white-haired old men and sweet little children. [End Page 183]
The Pyrotechnist Zacharias
And thy life shall be clearer than the noonday; though there be darkness, it shall be as the morning.Book of Job xi:i7
Rare are the occasions on which, during conversations among friends or acquaintances of mine, the question does not arise: Is the pyrotechnist Zacharias really dead?
Opinion on the matter is somewhat divided. Some think I am still alive—the deceased bore me a passing resemblance at best. Others, more superstitious, believe my demise is a most consummate fact and that the individual they have been calling by the name Zacharias is but a troubled soul wrapped in the poor involucre of a man. There are also those who categorically avouch my death and refuse to accept the existing citizen as Zacharias, the pyrotechnic artist, but merely someone who looks remarkably like him.
There is one thing no one can dispute: if Zacharias is dead, his corpse has not been buried.
The only person who can give any definitive answer on the subject is I. Though I am prevented from doing so because my companions all flee at the very sight of me. When I do manage to catch them unawares, they are petrified with fear and incapable of uttering a single word.
The fact is I did die, which would corroborate the version of those who believe in my death. But it is also true to say that I am not dead, as I continue to do everything I previously did, though I must admit with rather more delight than before.
At first it was blue, then green, yellow, then black. A pitch black, full of red stripes; a compact red, like thick courses of blood. A blood gummy with yellowish pigments, a greenish yellow; tenuous, almost colorless.
Just as everything was turning white, a car came along and killed me.
—. Simplício Santana de Alvarenga!
I felt my head spin, my body sway, as if there were no ground beneath me, [End Page 185] and then I was dragged by a powerful, irresistible force. I tried to grab hold of the trees, whose twisted branches brushed upwards, escaping my grasping fingers. Further on, my hands reached a ring of fire that began to spin at great speed between them, yet without burning them.
—My gentlemen: only the strongest win the fight, and this is a time of supreme decisions. Those who wish to survive it, remove your hats!
(Fireworks danced by my side, only to be devoured by a rainbow.)
—. Simplício Santana de Alvarenga!
—. Isn't he here?
—. Take your hand out of your mouth, Zacharias!
—. How many continents are there?
—. And Oceania?
There will be no more knickknacks from the China seas.
The thin, skeletal teacher, her eyes glazed, clutched a dozen fireworks in her right fist. The rods were long, so long in fact that they obliged Ms. Josefina to keep her feet at a height of two meters off the floor, with her head, wrapped in string, almost touching the ceiling.
—. Simplício Santana de Alvarenga!
—. Boys, love the truth! Love it!
It was a dark night. Better, a black night. The white filaments would not delay in covering the sky.
I was walking along the highway. World's End highway: some bends, silence, more shadows than silence.
The automobile did not honk at a distance. Nor, when it was almost on top of me, did I see its headlights, simply because that happened to be the night the whiteness descended upon the Earth.
The girls in the car screamed hysterically and promptly fainted. The chaps spoke in hushed voices, instantly cured of their drunkenness, and fell to discussing what best to do with the corpse.
At first it was blue, then green, yellow, then black. A pitch black, full of red stripes; a compact red, like thick courses of blood. A blood gummy with yellowish pigments, a greenish yellow; tenuous, almost colorless. Without color I had never wished to live. Live, tire out the muscles, walking through crowded streets, absent of men.
There was silence, more shadows than silence, because the lads no longer debated in hushed voices. Their speech was natural, peppered with slang.
The atmosphere was nestled in the same calm, and the corpse—my bloodied corpse—did not protest the end the youngsters wished to give it.
The initial idea, though soon rejected, had been to take me into town and leave me at the morgue. After some brief discussion, with all arguments analyzed in a cold light, the prevailing opinion was that my body could dirty the [End Page 186] car. And there was the added inconvenience of the girls refusing to travel beside a corpse. (They were roundly mistaken on that point, as I will explain later.)
One of the lads, a strong, clean-shaven chap—the only one who was shocked by the accident and had remained silent and distressed throughout—suggested that they leave the girls at the roadside and take me to the cemetery. His companions dismissed the proposal outright, but were quick to censure Jorginhos bad taste and insensitivity—Jorginho, that's what they called him—for showing more interest in the fate of a dead body than in the pretty little things that accompanied them.
The chap realized his faux pas and, unable to look his travel companions squarely in the face, began to whistle, visibly embarrassed.
I could not help but empathize immediately, given his reasonable suggestion, so feebly formulated to those who would decide my fate. After all, long journeys tire the living as much as they do the dead. (This argument did not occur to me at the time.)
They proceeded to discuss other solutions and eventually decided to hurl me from the bluff, a towering promontory at the roadside, wipe the bloodstains off the ground, and give the car a thorough cleaning when they got home, which would be the most adequate proposal and most fitting measure in order to avoid any complications with the police, who are always eager to find mystery where no such mystery exists.
But that was one of the few ends that seemed to me unacceptable—the idea of being flung there among stones, scree, and weeds was simply unbearable to me. What's more, my body could end up rolling into a gully down there and be hidden under vegetation, earth, and rubble. If that happened, it might never be found in its improvised tomb, and my name would not make the newspapers. No, they could not be allowed to rob me of even a modest obituary in the town's main daily. I had to act quickly and resolutely.
—Hang on there! I want to have a say, too.
Jorginho went white as a sheet, emitted a silent scream, and collapsed in a faint, while his friends, somewhat awed to see a corpse speak, decided to hear me out.
I always held faith in my ability to persuade my adversaries in debate. I don't know whether it was force of logic or a natural gift, but the truth was that in life, I could win any dispute based on solid, irrefutable argumentation.
Death had not extinguished this faculty, to which my killers did full justice. After a short debate, in which I expounded my arguments with clarity, the young chaps remained somewhat indecisive, unable to find a resolution that could both satisfy my objections and allow the night's program to continue. To exacerbate the confusion, they were aware of the impossibility of so disposing of a corpse that had lost none of the predicates generally attributed to the living. [End Page 187] If a suggestion had not suddenly occurred to one of them and been immediately accepted by all, we would surely have remained at an impasse. The proposed motion was to include me in the group, and for us all to go on the bender abruptly interrupted by my being run over.
However, a further obstacle remained in our path: there were only three girls; that is, the same number as there were chaps. We were missing one for me, and I certainly was not going to accept the role of gooseberry. The same chap who had suggested my inclusion came up with a conciliatory formula: abandon their colleague passed out on the roadside. All it would take to clean me up a little was to swap my clothes with Jorginho's, which I promptly set about doing.
After a little reluctance to abandon their companion, all agreed (men and women, the latter now recovered from their initial unconsciousness) that he had been weak and unable to face the situation with dignity. There was therefore little reason to waste valuable time on sentimental considerations for such a person.
I do not have any clear recollections of what came afterwards. The drink, which had never affected me much before my death, worked a truly surprising effect on my corpse. Through my eyes streamed stars, lights of hitherto unknown colors, absurd triangles, cones and spheres of ivory, black roses, cloves in the form of lilies, lilies transformed into hands. And there was the redhead I had been paired with, draped around my neck, her body transmogrified into a long metal arm.
At daybreak, I emerged from the semi-lethargy into which I had sunk. Somebody asked me where I wanted to go. I recall that I insisted upon going down to the cemetery, to which they replied that that would not be possible, as it was still closed at that hour. I repeated the word cemetery over and over. (Who knows, maybe I didn't actually get to repeat the word, but just moved my lips, trying to connect the words with the far-off sensations of my polychromatic delirium.)
This disjuncture between the external world and my eyes, which could not adjust to the colored landscapes that stretched out before me, persisted for quite some time. There was also the fear Id felt since the depths of the night before, when I realized that death had entered my body.
Were it not for the skepticism of men, who refuse to accept me whether dead or alive, I might even kindle the ambition of constructing a new existence.
I also had to struggle against the folly that sometimes became the master of my actions, obliging me to rummage anxiously through the newspapers in search of some shred of news that could elucidate the mystery that surrounded my demise.
I made various attempts at establishing contact with my companions of that fatal night, and the results were highly discouraging. After all, they were my only hope of proving just how real my death had been.
As the months wore on, my suffering grew less intense, as did the frustration [End Page 188] I felt at the difficulty of convincing my friends that the Zacharias who walked the town's streets was the same pyrotechnist as before, with the sole difference that the latter had been living, whereas the former was, in fact, dead.
Just one thought assails me: what manner of events does destiny set aside for the dead when even the life the living breathe is agonizing enough? My anguish grows deeper when I sense, in all its plenitude, that my capacity to love, to discern things is far superior to that of the beings who pass by me in fright.
Tomorrow the day may dawn clear, with the sun shining as never before. At that moment, men will understand that, even on the margins of life, I still live, because my existence has transformed into colors and the whiteness is already approaching the earth for the exclusive tenderness of my eyes. [End Page 189]
Murilo Rubião (1916–1991) was born in Carmo de Minas. He published his first collection of short stories, O ex-mágico [The ex-magician], in 1947. His other collections of fiction include A estrela vermelha [The red star] (1953), Os dragões e outros contos [The dragons and other tales] (1965), Opirotecnico Zacarias [The pyrotechnist Zacharias] (1974), O convidado [The guest] (1974), A casa dogirassol vermelho [The house of the red sunflower] (1978), and O homem do bone cinzento e outras historias [The man in the gray hat and other stories] (1990).