The Bear’s Tower

by | Feb 8, 2019 | Fiction, Issue Seven

¬ Watch the bear, watch the bear, mummy!

The naked toddler, body covered with sand, waves back at the cotton candy beach vendor, who is already dehydrated inside a yellow plush shroud with a long snout.

The boy’s mother, embarrassed, turns around and pretends she can’t hear his son’s pledges. She tells her friend she can’t imagine how somebody can walk along the beach in such a costume, with all that heat. Her colleague, disgusted, adds: ¬ I wonder how smelly it is inside that garment. I would never, ever buy something from that guy. Oh my, it is gross!

The Bear man goes on waving to the kids at the beach. A baby girl with a pink hat on a trolley looks at him and screams. Her father beats the grotesque figure with his bare eyes.

A boy playing paddle tennis makes a sign to a friend and hits the ball hard in the head of the bear. The seller turns, the brat apologizes. The man walks, the two kids laugh.

The season hasn’t even started for real, and the heat is over thirty degrees centigrade. The costume is heavy, and the only uncovered part of his body is the feet, on Havaianas. It should bring him some relief, if it weren’t for the scorching sand that invades the sandals, burning the sensitive skin inside the cracks of his heels.

The gringo, astonished by the number of vendors along the sand, turns to his Brazilian friend and asks what the heck it was, pointing to the man-bear, looking at him with a  mix of disgust and wonder. The host, tired of so much prejudice in such a fat body, responds that it is just a poor guy trying to earn his money honestly. Oh, Brazilians are creative.

One family sheltered in a big beach hut waves to the seller. He seizes the chance to stay, even for a little while, in the shade. He takes out the head of the costume and breathes openly while the children choose their candies. The boy picks up the cotton candy with a Spiderman mask. His little sister is in doubt between Frozen and Snow White. She can’t make up her mind and decides she is going to buy an ice cream later.

The older sister, a teenager, feels sorry for the man and gets a pink cotton candy with no mask on it. The beach hawker stares at her and sees a real princess. The father pays the man. He thanks them, put the plush head down again and points the muzzle ahead.

At the end of the day, he goes back to the candy distributor, returns the merchandise left, stores the custom into a moldy closet and goes have dinner. The money made through the whole day barely pays a set meal of rice, beans, meat and salad at the around the corner diner.

On his way to the boarding house, he passes by a small building behind the waterfront block and sees the teenage princess of the beach. She puts moisturizer on her body, unrelated to anything other than the task of spreading the cream into each piece of that young, tanned skin.

The Bear-man climbs the tower next to the building, enters from the balcony and surprises the girl from behind, covering her mouth with his rough hand, muffling her cry for help. He penetrates the girl standing with renewed energy, many times, as if he hadn’t spent the entire day in that suffocating bizarre costume.

Joyful, he twists her neck back, violently. While exhaling for the last time, she stares at the beach hawker. The recognition is forever registered in those glazed eyes.

Read more Fiction | Issue Seven

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