by Ivan Ângelo
Ataíde left the house at seven in the morning and worried about the bus being late.
Fernando left at eleven-thirty, angry with life because some notes were falling due.
Ataíde had given a warm kiss to his wife, Cremilda so-and-so, promising to come home directly after work.
Fernando didn’t always remember to kiss his wife. He was too preoccupied.
Ataíde managed to scrape together three ridiculous minimum wages but was hoping for better times.
Fernando usually slept until ten and then threatened his employer: either I get the raise or it’s ciao, baby.
Ataíde every now and then had a terrible toothache, and on those days it was better to stay out of his way.
Fernando was always telling his wife not to talk so much—with no hope; with no results.
Ataíde had no children as yet, but was planning to.
Fernando had two children, despite all the planning.
Ataíde was a bit younger.
Fernando was thirty-something.
Ataíde liked to strum a little samba once in a while.
Fernando, without a good soccer game on Sunday, was unbearable by Monday.
Ataíde made love to his lovely Cremilda at least every other day.
Fernando was on tap once a week: Saturday night, or Sunday morning.
Ataíde—how many times!—because he was quite a boxer, wouldn’t put up with insults, even though his Cremilda always warned him a man shouldn’t be so proud, especially if he’s poor, because someday he might have to beg for something, and that would come as a hard day. But he always answered her by saying I promise you, baby, I’ll think about that, but not right now, okay?
Fernando generally tended to shy away from a showdown.
Ataíde had rather dark skin and black, kinky hair.
Fernando was already showing a bit of a potbelly.
Ataíde, around eleven at night, usually tried to get in a little soccer with a big ball of socks. It helped him digest those poorer cuts of meat, always a little tough despite the efforts of his Cremilda.
Fernando was muttering to himself in his Volkswagen and decided: today, I want to get good and bombed.
Ataíde considered himself something of an artist: he backed away slightly from the wall he was painting—one foot behind the other, his head cocked a little to one side, right hand on his waist—admiring the work he was finishing and telling himself: man, you sure are one hell of a house painter.
Fernando—whenever Inês brought another check over for him to approve would try out a different approach, because Inês had a pair of cover-girl legs, and he liked temporary girls a lot: typists, stenographers, secretaries.
Ataíde had plans to take his Cremilda out to the Palladium Cinema next Sunday, to see the latest James Bond thriller—that is, if he still had some money.
Fernando read cloudy weather with possible showers for the weekend forecast in the papers, and calculated with fury that it would probably spoil the soccer match on Sunday.
Ataíde stopped work at 6:00 p.m. and walked to Plaza Station to buy a coconut chocolate for his lovely Cremilda. While he was there he took the opportunity to have a couple quick shots of rum.
Fernando had left the office at 5:30, and was already drinking by twenty minutes of six—he was good at that sort of thing—when he got into a scuffle with a mulatto who knocked his glass over while buying a coconut chocolate there at the counter: hey, watch what you’re doing, faggot.
Ataíde didn’t hesitate, and slammed him.
Translation by Thomas Colchie