Curupira – Chapter 6

Chapter 6

José and Adalto lived in the same building, so they were bosom buddies everywhere. José lived on the 4th and Adalto on the 2nd floor. José was about 6ft tall and one of those guys Brazilians usually called German. He was blonde and green-eyed.

luizinhoThe way Brazilians deal with races is peculiar. José made a lot of racial slurs, so everybody thought of him as very bigoted, nonetheless his best friend, Adalto, was a mulatto. Just like Barack Obama, his mom was white, his daddy was black — his daddy had left when he was a child. Just like Stephen King’s father, he went to buy a pack of cigarettes and never came back— and he was raised by his mom and her family. He actually looked a little bit like Barack Obama, but his skin was a little darker and his hair was thick, but it was not kinky. Actually, it was smoother than José’s. And he wasn’t tall, about 5.7.

Since in Brazil everybody has to live together in the same neighborhoods, the racial tension is usually more verbal, or related to joke- making, than actually anything leading to violence. So that’s why you see lots of people making racial denigrations and then you notice their best friends are a member of the race they poke fun at.

menino-e-meninaAdalto’s mother had remarried and so he had two half-siblings, one girl and one boy. Nice kids. Adalto loved them. It was fun to get home and find them there. They were 9 and 6. The girl was older. His stepdad was a really nice guy; there goes the evil stepmom/stepdad myth, or maybe he was just the exception that proved the rule.

His stepdad started shacking up with his mom when he was around 6. They were thinking of getting officially married next year. The problem was deciding at which church they’d get married since his mom had just become a born-again Christian. What a pain she’d become. His stepdad just took it in his stride; he knew exactly what strings to pull to get her moving wherever he wanted, in other words, it would be easier for a Christian to convert a Muslim or vice versa than for her to get him to stop being a freewheeling catholic.

virgem-mariaLike most Brazilians, he went to church for weddings or when someone died, but most of the time he was as inclined to get into a church as Count Dracula, so he told everybody he was a catholic because he was baptized, but if pressed you’d realized pretty fast he was more of an agnostic than anything else, or at least, not concerned at all with religious matters. Anyway, he was a cool guy.

José’s father was another matter altogether. He was a real bastard, literally, since he never knew who his daddy was. His mother had been a slut, her apartment had been busier than a subway station and Olímpio, José’s daddy, had grown up being called “Tiquinho’s” son. Tiquinho means “a little bit” and by that people meant lots of guys contributed “a little bit” to his birth since his mom was a floozie.

Maybe that justifies the fact he was a bastard now, maybe not, since people suffer all kinds of humiliation when they’re growing up and don’t become as bad as he was. José’s mom was his third wife and he had three children with her, but he had children with the other women as well, so José had 2 brothers and 5 half-siblings. Maybe it was good he only had male children with José’s mom because José wouldn’t put it past him abusing a little girl, if he had one. He did have more than one, but they didn’t live with him.

capoeira14Two years previously, he‘d gotten drunk and tried to beat up José again, but José had been preparing for it, he’d learned a little bit of capoeira and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. And his daddy had a big surprise. José didn’t actually beat him up, but made it very clear he could if he wanted to. He had used a hold on his daddy and said if he tried anything, he’d break his neck, and his daddy believed him. Now his brothers weren’t getting beaten up anymore and neither was his mom.

Life wasn’t easy, but at least he didn’t get home in fear anymore.

Go to Chapter 7

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