After running around Rio all day, you open the pub doors at five. The air-conditioning remote is in a different place every day. A game you play with the staff. You put it in this drawer. The thing lives here. You wonder if your Portuguese is wrong, right? They all nod. You nod too. You curse them every twelve hours. The doorman is called Big Guy because he is and arrives with the chef called Chef. You go through a chef a week. After the second week, you promise to learn proper names but nothing lasts. You plug in the tunes, pour a pint, and watch Big Guy sweep and sway while calling distributors. You ordered 20 kilos of lemons and 20 kilos of jilo—a Brazilian turnip– arrived. You ask Chef what he can do with them. He says nothing, I can do nothing, my dogs won’t even eat jilo.
Cleber, who is clever, arrives, your head waiter, at 21 he has sired four children with four different women. Who are you to judge if he wants to overpopulate the planet? One whiskey and weed session after closing the topic of vasectomy arises. He screams nunca nunca nunca, grabs his crotch, rolls from stool to freshly mopped floor, curls into fetal position, and propels himself in a yelping circle. We men laugh men loud and men ugly men. Big Guy belly flops onto him. Chef wrestles me into the scrum. Bill Withers croons Use Me. You don’t know how you got home that or the next night until the protests threaten to sober you up from Carnival.
Was that the year of the garbage strikes? Before or after the night the band rocked why don’t we just do it in the road and Big Guy harbored about forty Black Block protesters from the elite riot squad with shields and real not rubber bullets and Big Guy bolted the front door pulled down the shutters and Cleber and Chef soaked all the bar rags jammed them under the door around the window frames over the air-conditioning vents quick now the tear gas still coming through. You go up to the second-floor balcony wishing you were a Julieta or Romeo down below shooting stars upward but the elite squad sees you and fires a tear gas grenade which rolls past your office sofa down the stairs onto the dance floor all moshing you hear the drummer miss a beat then punt the tear gas grenade through the flapping kitchen doors then Black Block go nuts like a winning cup penalty just scored and the cops pound pound cops pounding the door you call your girlfriend to say you might be a little late tonight don’t wait up I love you and she asks if you are high and you giggle eyes watering from the gas of course and love and wonder if you can find the exit any exit or still sign up for that 10-day silent retreat in the hills before Christmas and if you will know your lines aren’t you shooting a tela-novela in the morning as the gringo tourist always gets robbed for the third time this season you are the professional.
You grab a bottle of cachaca and a tray of empty shot glasses tell Cleber to man the bar ask Big Guy if he cares to follow and march straight out the front door damp rags tied over nose and mouth straight into the elite squad firing line hold up the bottle pray they don’t think it’s a Molotov or surrender trick or just straight don’t like you much or managers or free shots you offer them rounds and rounds. You hear the band slow the beat and the protestor join the lead singer who is a diamond and the cops join you and Big Guy singing Tim Maia’s if all the whole world could hear there is much to say we’ve learned in life we must understand, some were born to suffer while others born to laugh, the dream’s all blue. Blue the color of the sea.
David Morgan O’Connor is from a small village on Lake Huron. After many nomadic years, he is based in Albuquerque, where a novel and MFA progresses. His writing has appeared in; Barcelona Metropolitan, Collective Exiles, Across the Margin, Headland, Cecile’s Writers, Bohemia, Beechwood, Fiction Magazine, After the Pause, The Great American Lit Mag (Pushcart nomination) , The New Quarterly and The Guardian. Tweeting @dmoconnorwrites.