Read an excerpt from Joao Almino’s “Free City” at Dublin Review of Books

These days, months after the seven nights I spent with him and the seventh night, the night of his death, I wonder if I was his murderer. Maybe it’s in order to redeem myself that I combine phrases from his buried papers with stories that I’ve read and heard, especially the ones that I heard from him starting the moment I noticed the joy in his eyes when he saw me at his side, for joy is sometimes expressed with tears, such as when we encounter beauty, justice, or kindness in their purest state. Weariness of this world and acquiescence to the approaching hour of his departure from it were transformed, little by little, by the pleasure he took in my conciliatory gesture. I couldn’t believe everything that he told me, and that “everything” seemed insufficient, but I recognize that, in his tremulous voice, he spoke quite a bit, as if he needed someone on whom he could unload the stories that he’d always kept to himself. During the day he was quiet and sometimes I’d leave to have lunch with my wife and kids at our house in Lago Sul, meet up with my friends at the newspaper, or go to the University of Brasilia library to do research, but at night I’d read aloud to him and he’d revise a sentence here or there and tell me lots of stories, sometimes until the wee hours of the morning, about Valdivino and the crime that possibly never happened.

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