MUTUM OPERATION – FOOTING / SECOND LOW
(Episodes 18 and 19)
The nights in Mutum have always been very lively, since when I still lived there, during my childhood and adolescence. In my memories, I find myself standing on the sidewalk that surrounded the flower beds in Praça Benedito Valadares, where hundreds of people walk, every night, from dusk until the wee hours. This habit of spending hours and hours wandering around the square was known as footing, an expression that in English means taking an informal walk or walk. It was during footing that we flirted with the girls, chatted with friends and discussed football warmly. Especially on the days when Sport or Tringolingo played, which almost always happened on weekends. It was just the time between coming back from the soccer field, which was how we knew the Municipal Stadium, taking a shower, changing clothes and running to the square. Time to do the footing. Whoever had a girlfriend, sat on the cement benches, placed inside, among the well-kept flower beds, full of the most varied flowers and small trees, pruned into geometric or animal shapes. Banks could read the names of those who sponsored them. The lighting of the square was done by small decorative poles, worked artistically, from which hung the lamps protected by ornamental lamps. Those who were close to the banks always had their lamps out, leaving a dark space that was disputed by couples of lovers. The sooner they arrived, the greater the certainty of guaranteeing space in the dark benches. Some friends took turns using the benches, a couple staying there for a set time and then letting another occupy it. There, hugs and kisses took place, between making out and making out and making fun.
During the day there were few who sat on the benches in the garden of the square where the footing was done at night. The heat, caused by the very hot sun in the summer or the cold, excessive in the winter, naturally kept the people away from the square during the day. Factors aggravated by the fact that there are only small trees there, unable to create large shadows.
The same was no longer the case with the part of the square that was right in front of the Hotel dos Viajantes, which always had its benches occupied in the mornings, by some elderly people who sat there, taking advantage of the shadows of the trees, to chat.
There, too, were Arnaldo’s newsstand and Rui’s three shoeshine chairs.
In this part of the square, at night, there was no footing and no couple used the benches to date. At night, they were occupied by couples who lived around the square and there watched the movement in the garden, until the movement stopped.
During the stay of the military troops in Mutum, the footing started to have a greater interest on the part of women, since the soldiers, as they were called in a generic way, started to visit Praça Benedito Valadares when they were not on duty. Consequently, because they are strangers, they have become a kind of extra attraction. Many dating of some couples, until then considered firm, were ended with some “outside”, as we called them, as responsible.
In Mutum, as in some rural cities, there were some girls who did not like to date the boys in the city. They rarely accepted any of us as a boyfriend. But, whenever there was an event with the participation of someone from outside, it was certain that they were not alone. They could be seen in the small square, circling hugging their boys, not caring about the stares that were directed at them. In reality, it was all a matter of bairrismo, because when the situation was reversed, and some girl from outside appeared in the city, there was a real race between us, in an attempt to win her over and go to the meetings on the dark benches of the square. Only, in the case of the military who sought the bombs, we were in danger of losing even our steady girlfriends, because there were many and all from outside.
That’s how it happened with my friend Clemente, son of Dona Candinha Quitandeira and boyfriend of Marcília.
In my memories of my childhood, in Mutum, the figure of Dona Candinha Quitandeira has a special place.
The second drop
Clemente was my soccer companion, since the children’s sport. We grew up together, we were the same age and we were inseparable friends. Wherever one was, the other would be found, for sure. Dona Candinha accepted our friendship very well and went further, stating that “if these two were brothers, I don’t think they would match as much as they do, being friends”.
Not a day went by without me going to Clemente’s house. There, no matter what time she arrived, Dona Candinha made me and Clemente delight in some of the delicacies she did to serve her customers. While we ate, Dona Candinha was always with us, talking and laughing at our games. So time passed while we grew up. Until Clemente started dating Marcília, who was a beautiful brunette who lived on a street that was close to the water tank, where Clemente and I passed when we went to play football.
From seeing us passing so much and from so much that Clemente looked at her, Marcília ended up giving the ball to Clemente who, in turn and even being very shy, did not miss the chance. They started dating and our routine of friends was being left aside, little by little.
Then, of course, my visits to Clemente’s house were rare, diminishing until they became scarce. On training days, I no longer passed the street of Clemente’s house. I went straight from my house, in Praça Benedito Valadares, to the countryside, passing through other streets. In addition to being closer, I knew that Clemente would no longer be at home, because his time off was always spent in the company of Marcília, at her house or at one of her friends.
Whenever she saw Dona Candinha, in her wanderings around the city delivering her orders from greengrocers, she complained that I was gone, that I should show up, that I didn’t have to go there at her house only when Clemente was there. So, from time to time, I would arrive at Dona Candinha’s house. And whenever I did, I heard at some point she say “I don’t like this courtship of Clemente with this guy” and when I tried to argue in defense of the two, she replied “this girl doesn’t look good to him”.
My friend Clemente and his girlfriend Marcília had been together for a long time and all of us, his friends, knew that they would end up at the altar of the Matriz de São Manoel. They had even confided in me that I would be their godfather. They did not speak of dates, but they were certain to be married. No one was able to doubt this future reality.
When the bombs fell on Mutum I no longer lived there and Clemente and Marcília were engaged, planning the wedding of which I would be best man. They were still doing the footing in the square.
It was there one night that Marcília, who was awaiting the arrival of Clemente, realized that she was being watched by someone when she was walking with her friends. Curious, she tried in a discreet and disguised way to identify who was watching her. His eyes met that of a Navy soldier, who gave him a smile. From there, for a long time the two were looking for each other with their eyes, flirting in a very bold way. He, the soldier, standing on the sidewalk with other soldiers, and she, Marcília, walking with her friends around the square. From looking at each other, Marcília’s friends decided to give her a cover, since Clemente was slow to arrive. At a certain moment, they stopped by the small group of soldiers in which what flirted with Marcília was part of. Nobody knows what they talked about. What is certain is that shortly after Clemente’s arrival, Marcília told her that she was not feeling well and he took her home. Shortly afterwards, Clemente met me and others of his friends in the pool hall.
As we had not seen each other for a long time, we took the opportunity to update our conversation. The main point, of course, was the episode of the lost bombs, as they became known. We were talking and it was already very late when Clemente said goodbye saying he was going home because he would need to wake up early the next day.
Nobody cared when Dino Maluco entered Bar do Paulo, leaned against the counter and started laughing alone, as was his custom when he wanted to give some news about something he had seen in his wanderings around the city. He was laughing to himself until someone asked him what had happened. There, he would unravel his story. And so it was. When asked what had happened, Dino Maluco said that that night, he was passing through Marcília’s street, Clemente’s fiancee, when he saw Marcília exchanging hugs and kisses with someone other than Clemente. It was a soldier. They were in the alley of her house in the greatest naughtiness. He said that he had seen everything they did, but that they had not seen what he had seen. When someone said that what he was saying was absurd, and that he should be careful, because Clemente would not like anything he was making up, Mad Dino laughed and said that he had already told everything to Clemente, early in the morning , when he was going to work. And that Clemente hadn’t even fought with him.
That night, in the square during the footing, without anyone noticing or being able to prevent it, Clemente fired two shots at the belly of a sailor named Charles. Clemente was arrested in the act and taken to the headquarters of the Military Command, where he would be detained until the justice determined what to do with him. Sailor Charles, attended emergency, still in the square, was removed by helicopter to Vitória, where he was admitted in serious condition and at the Naval Hospital.
When I met Dona Candinha, the other day, and hugged her, saying how much I felt for Clemente, she gave me a sad smile saying only “Didn’t I say that Marcília was not a good bisque? It doesn’t fit my Clement. I knew she was no good for him ”. As for Marcília, on the same day she traveled to Aimorés, from where, according to one of her friends, she was going to take the train to Vitória. Where was the Naval Hospital.
The sailor became the second casualty among the military in charge of searching for the lost bombs in Mutum. And none of the bombs had yet been found.